IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Biden is far less unpopular than Hillary Clinton was four years ago, polling shows

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally in Kansas City, Mo., on March 7, 2020.
Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally in Kansas City, Mo., on March 7, 2020.Charlie Riedel / AP file

WASHINGTON — One of the biggest differences in the presidential polling between 2016 and now is that Joe Biden’s negative numbers aren’t close to where Hillary Clinton’s were at this exact same point in the race.

In the June 2016 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll — so after clinching the Democratic nomination but before the party’s convention — Clinton’s favorable/unfavorable rating was 33 percent positive, 55 percent negative (-22).

And Trump’s was worse: 29 percent positive, 60 percent negative (-31).

But compare those numbers with the fav/unfav results from our recent June 2020 NBC News/WSJ poll.

Here’s Biden among registered voters: 37 percent positive, 38 percent negative (-1).

And here’s Trump: 40 percent positive, 51 percent negative (-11).

Now Republicans still have the opportunity to define Biden — 23 percent of voters have a neutral opinion of him (compared to 8 percent for Trump now and 12 percent for Clinton in 2016).

Trump has improved on his numbers from four years ago (that’s what happens when you fully take over your party, which wasn’t the case back in June of 2016)

And Biden still has plenty of work to do with the youngest voters (his fav/unfav here is just 26 percent positive, 35 percent negative), and his VERY positive rating is just 17 percent (though that’s 2 points higher than Clinton’s in June of ’16).

But not only is Biden leading the ballot by a wider margin than Clinton was at this point in 2016, and not only is he besting Trump among voters who have an unfavorable view of both candidates.

He’s also much less unpopular than Clinton was four years ago.

By the way, here are the fav/unfav ratings for all of the figures and countries our recent NBC News/WSJ poll tested:

  • Anthony Fauci: 50 percent positive, 11 percent negative (+39)
  • Barack Obama: 57 percent positive, 30 percent negative (+27)
  • Joe Biden: 37 percent positive, 38 percent negative (-1)
  • Donald Trump: 40 percent positive, 51 percent negative (-11)
  • China: 5 percent positive, 56 percent negative (-51)
  • Russia: 5 percent positive, 56 percent negative (-51).

Please don’t come to Tulsa, city health director and newspaper say

President Trump has postponed that Tulsa rally that had been scheduled to take place on Juneteenth – instead, it will occur on Saturday, June 20.

But no matter the date, the city’s health director says he’s concerned about the safety for attendees, as well as for the president, given the region’s increase in coronavirus cases.

“I think it’s an honor for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa City-County Health Department, told the Tulsa World.

More from Dart: “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”

And the Tulsa World has an editorial out this morning saying this is the “wrong time” for Trump to come to the city.

“Tulsa is still dealing with the challenges created by a pandemic. The city and state have authorized reopening, but that doesn’t make a mass indoor gathering of people pressed closely together and cheering a good idea. There is no treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine. It will be our health care system that will have to deal with whatever effects follow,” the paper writes.

“The public health concern would apply whether it were Donald Trump, Joe Biden or anyone else who was planning a mass rally at the BOK.”

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

2,105,928: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 72,083 more than Friday morning.)

116,413: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,843 more than Friday morning).

23.54 million: The number of coronavirus TESTS that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

58 percent: The percentage won by conservative Bob Good in Saturday’s drive-thru GOP convention in central Virginia, which saw the ouster of incumbent Rep. Denver Riggleman.

16: The number of terms served by New York Rep. Eliot Engel, who faces a competitive primary challenge on June 23 from progressive Jamaal Bowman.

Nearly a million: The number of votes counted in the Georgia Senate Democratic primary as of Friday, up from about 310,000 in the 2016 primary contest.

2020 Vision: We’ve got a real race in Iowa Senate

In yet another sign of how the political environment has shifted over the last few weeks, a Des Moines Register poll released over the weekend shows a really competitive contest in Iowa’s Senate race.

The poll has Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield at 46 percent, and it has incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, at 43 percent, which is within the margin of error.

“This is definitely a competitive race,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who conducted the survey.

And check this out: Another release from the Des Moines Register poll shows Democrats leading on the generic ballot among likely voters in three of the state’s four congressional districts.

So what’s going on in Iowa isn’t a Joni Ernst issue.

It’s a Donald Trump/GOP issue.

Tweet of the day

Bipartisan consensus on banning police chokeholds

While Senate Republicans and congressional Democrats have a chasm between them in their ideas on police reform, it seems like there is one policy they can get behind – banning chokeholds.

On Sunday, two Republican senators at the forefront of crafting the Senate Republican bill came out against that use of force. On CNN, Sen. James Lankford said, “I do believe chokeholds should be banned.” And Sen. Tim Scott told one of us on “Meet the Press” yesterday that chokeholds are “a policy whose time has come and gone.” But it seems like no-knock warrants, the policy that precipitated the killing of Breonna Taylor, may not be as bipartisan.

The Democratic bill would end no-knock warrants in drug-related cases. Scott on Sunday said, “[T]here's no actual database on no knocks. We don’t know when it’s used, to whom it’s used against. We don't know the race, the sex, the age.” He added, “We just don't have the information to get there. I know that the House bill says, ‘let's just eliminate it for drug cases’, but we have no information that supports that that is the best way to go.”

As for President Trump, he is said to be finalizing his own executive order on police reform. On Thursday he said it would “encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalation.”

The Lid: Join hands, start a love train

Don’t miss the pod from Friday, when we looked at how our most recent NBC/WSJ poll showed 55 percent of American voters preferring consensus and compromise over big change.

Shameless plug: AFI DOCS film festival is back (and virtual!)

Meet the Press is excited to once again work with our friends at the American Film Institute. This year the AFI DOCS film festival is going virtual. The online event begins this Wednesday, June 17, and will feature more than 50 documentaries, including a track of short films sponsored by Meet the Press. The festival will run online June 17 through Sunday, June 21. Tickets and Passes are available now at

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

President Trump may be remaking the demographics of both major political parties.

The Trump campaign won’t say if it will enforce CDC guidelines at its Tulsa rally.

The Daily Beast reports that Trump’s niece, Mary, is publishing a tell-all book.

Elizabeth Warren’s allies have penned a letter making the case for her as VP.

A new group of young conservatives advocating for climate change solutions is up with a new ad buy on FOX.