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Biden finds himself stuck between independents and his base

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: President Biden Speaks At U.S. Capitol On Anniversary Of January 6 Attack
President Biden gives remarks in Statuary Hall of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2022.Greg Nash / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Friday ... President Biden discusses increasing the supply of semiconductors and talks to the nation’s mayors. ... White House chief of staff Ron Klain is under scrutiny. ... Atlanta prosecutor requests special grand jury in Trump investigation. ... The FBI raid of Rep. Henry Cuellar’s home is tied to a federal investigation regarding Azerbaijan. ... And RIP, Meat Loaf.

But first: There is one final set of numbers from our latest NBC News poll to chew on: A plurality of Americans — 42 percent — say Biden is too unwilling to compromise, versus 23 percent who say he’s too willing to compromise, and 27 percent who say he’s found the right balance.

That’s a reversal from a year ago when our poll showed 42 percent saying Biden would find the right balance, 28 percent saying he’s too unwilling to compromise and 27 percent saying he’s too willing.

What’s happened here?

Well, first, the percentage of independents saying Biden is too unwilling to compromise shot up from 18 percent last January to 55 percent now — a 37-point increase.

And second, the share of Democrats believing Biden will find the right balance declined from 68 percent to 52 percent, while the percentage of Dems thinking the president is too willing to compromise inched up 4 points, from 27 percent to 31 percent.

Bottom line: Biden right now is stuck — between a majority of independents who think he’s too unwilling to compromise, versus a third of Democrats who think he’s too willing to compromise.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … 1 in 5

Since the start of 2022 — so fewer than 21 full days — America has reported one-fifth of all of its Covid cases since the pandemic began, according to NBC News historical data. There have been almost 15 million recorded cases of Covid in America so far this year, with the current total since the start of the pandemic at around 69.5 million.

It’s a number that puts the staggering jump in cases, amid the rise of the omicron variant, in perspective. But there’s another important number to consider alongside it: 4 percent. That’s the portion of Covid deaths in America that have occurred in 2022 — about 35,000 of the 864,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Public health experts have been encouraged that cases are decoupling from deaths, particularly amid the widespread availability of vaccines and as more therapeutics are developed. Even so, hospitals are still extremely stressed thanks to the widespread transmissibility of the variant, with the country regularly setting records for Covid hospitalizations.

Other numbers you need to know today

$4 million: That’s how much Democrat Wes Moore raised in his campaign for Maryland governor in 2021, propelling him to the top of the fundraising game after Maryland's first fundraising deadline of the campaign. His running mate raised another $770,000.

$1.4 million: About how much former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt says his Senate campaign raised in the fourth quarter of 2021.

$777,000: How much Republican businessman Bob Stefanowski booked on television ads, per AdImpact, in the opening days of his bid for Connecticut governor.

Midterm roundup

Building Back Together, the outside group supporting Biden’s agenda, announced its first ad campaign of 2022 yesterday, dropping $1.5 million on TV, digital, radio, and print ads and billboards highlighting the White House’s accomplishments. The group is targeting “key constituencies, including Black, Latino, and AAPI communities in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin,” per a press release.

Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., falsely claimed the 2020 election was stolen and appeared with a “Stop the Steal” graphic in his latest TV ad for the Senate primary. The spot has aired on Newsmax and OANN, per AdImpact.

An FBI raid on Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar’s home this week raised questions about whether it could affect the Texas Democrat’s primary race in March. NBC’s Pete Williams explains that Justice Department policy bars investigations with the goal of influencing an election, but does not prohibit investigations that could impact an election. The raid is said to be part of an investigation into businessmen with ties to Azerbaijan.

On Thursday’s “MTP Daily,” NBC's Dasha Burns in Luzerne County, Pa., and Guad Venegas in Washoe County, Nev., spoke to voters about one issue weighing on their minds ahead of the midterms: affordable housing. One construction business owner blamed “the current administration” for rising supply costs.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Russian counterpart as tensions over Ukraine loom large.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain is under scrutiny as Biden struggles.

CNN reports that Rudy Guliani and other top Trump campaign officials oversaw the attempts to offer alternate electors in key states in 2020.

The Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney is seeking a special grand jury to aid her investigation into whether Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign interfered unlawfully in the election.