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Biden's sinking poll numbers threaten Democrats' razor-thin majority one year out

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
Joe Biden delivers remarks on Covid-19 response and vaccinations in the South Court Auditorium of the White House, on March 29, 2021.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The 2022 midterms are still more than a year away, but President Biden’s political standing is already in dangerous territory for his party.

A Gallup poll this week had Biden’s approval rating at 43 percent. Pew had him at 44 percent. And most other polls this month — though not all of them — also show the president underwater.

Using Gallup’s historical numbers, that’s worse than Barack Obama’s standing in all of 2009 and much of 2010, when Democrats lost the U.S. House in a midterm shellacking.

It’s slightly better than Donald Trump’s in 2017, before the GOP would also lose the House that next year.

And it’s about the same trajectory as Bill Clinton’s in his first year of his presidency. And in case you forget how the 1994 midterms fared for the Democrats, yep, they lost control of Congress.

Midterm elections are always referendums on the president, and the two recent times when a president’s party actually performed well during them were in 1998 (during that roaring economy and the backlash to Clinton’s impeachment) and 2002 (after 9/11).

The good news for Biden and Democrats is that the midterm elections aren’t today, so they still have time to turn things around.

It’s still super early.

But right now — after the Delta Covid surge, after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, after another crisis at the border, and amid a congressional stalemate on the president’s legislative agenda — Biden is standing on unstable footing.

How Biden’s numbers affect the drama on Capitol Hill

And how do you translate Biden’s political standing to the current legislative standoff on Capitol Hill?

We guarantee you some of the at-risk Democratic members have seen poll numbers that show them in dangerous territory, too.

By the way, we still don’t have an answer from President Biden to the questions we posed yesterday: Should Monday’s infrastructure vote go forward?

And if so, should all Democrats vote for it?

That’s a bad sign for Democrats who want to see the infrastructure legislation pass on Monday.

Biden wins Arizona — again

It appears the partisan review of Maricopa County’s 2020 election results shows that Joe Biden won Arizona.


NBC News: “Maricopa County, Arizona, said Thursday that a draft report from a company in a contentious, partisan review of November's election has confirmed the winners ... NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix said that it obtained a copy of the report and that the review widens Biden's victory margin by 360 votes.”

“Every time Trump and his supporters have been given a forum to make their case, they have swung and missed,” GOP election lawyer Ben Ginsberg told the Washington Post.

“If Trump and his supporters can’t prove it here — with the process they’ve designed — then they can’t prove it anywhere,” he added.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

4: The number of top former Trump White House officials — Steve Bannon, Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino and Kashyap Patel — subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee.

$147,719: How much the Department of Education paid Alachua County school officials to offset the fines their faced for installing a mask mandate.

83 percent: The share of Americans who relied on national news outlets for their news on the pandemic in April 2020 who are vaccinated, per Pew. Those who listened most to former President Trump and their personal and community connections last year are far less likely to be vaccinated now.

42,739,354: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 115,918 more since yesterday morning.)

688,483: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 3,455 more since yesterday morning.)

387,821,704: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 327,988 more since yesterday morning.)

55 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

66.2 percent: The share of all U.S. adults at least 18 years of age who are fully vaccinated, per CDC

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The CDC Director authorized Pfizer Covid vaccine booster shots for a broader group than advisors recommended — including the elderly, those with underlying medical conditions, and those whose work or institutional living situation puts them at increased risk.

Texas’ secretary of state’s office announced a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election results in four counties, shortly after Trump backed one.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general is suing in the hopes of blocking a GOP attempt to audit the 2020 election results in the state.

Politico reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is warming to Herschel Walker and other controversial Republican Senate candidates backed by Trump.

Families of missing Black men plead for more resources and accountability from police like they’re seeing in the investigation into the death of Gabby Petito.

The former police officer convicted of killing George Floyd will appeal the verdict.