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Meet the Press Blog: Latest news, analysis and data driving the political discussion

Smart political reporting and analysis, including data points, interesting national trends, short updates and more from the NBC News political unit.
Image: Illustration of photos depicting voters on line, voting booths, the Capitol, the White House and raised hands.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The latest political news and analysis from the campaign trail:

Rising stars tapped to chair Democratic training organization

The nation’s largest Democratic training organization announced Thursday that its first honorary co-chairs will be Reps. Katie Porter, D-Calif., Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., and Nikema Williams, D-Ga., signaling a commitment to training an ideologically, geographically, and demographically diverse pipeline of candidates up and down the ballot ahead of the 2022 midterms

“The future of our party is about competing everywhere and lowering the barriers of intrigue for anyone who wants to make a difference,” Kelly Dietrich, who leads the National Democratic Training Committee, told NBC News, calling the co-chairs “pioneering women.” Both Porter and Underwood flipped their districts red to blue with their elections, while Williams is on the frontlines of Democratic efforts to keep Georgia blue from her seat, once held by the late Rep. John Lewis.

President Joe Biden praises Congresswoman Lauren Underwood as they tour the Children's Learning Center at McHenry County College on July 7, 2021 in Crystal Lake, Ill.Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune via AP, Pool

The NDTC will use the congresswomen to amplify their free training programs for Democrats across the country hoping to run for office themselves, or looking to work on campaigns.

Underwood herself actually participated in NDTC trainings before running and winning one of 2018’s tightest races. Her advice for could-be candidates and the politically-inclined, she told NBC, is “don’t be shy about what you don’t know.”

The NDTC has seen more than 130,000 people sign up for trainings since the summer of 2016, fueled in part by a backlash to the election of former President Donald Trump. But since Trump’s departure, interest has remained high, to the tune of 32,000-plus so far this year according to the committee. Overall, more than half — 53 percent — of trainees have been women. And geographically, rural and suburban areas not typically falling for Dems are seeing high degree of interest.

To Underwood, the numbers tell a larger story about who’s engaging and why — and what it could mean for a candidate pipeline that, only until recently, had been filled by a majority of white male contenders.

“We’re seeing the activations of these social networks that might have been built from PTAs, or church groups, or neighborhood associations,” Underwood said. “These women who now understand that our democracy won’t be fixed passively. We have to get in there and work for it and the ladies are bringing the same skills, dedication, and mindset that we do to everything else in our lives to our politics. And we’re not afraid to ask for help.”

Progressive group gives air cover to moderate Democrats on Biden's $3.5 trillion budget

The liberal group Future Forward USA Action is launching an ad campaign to protect moderate Democrats who are under fire from conservatives over President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion economic package.

The group said it will spend $1.4 million next week in seven key districts represented by Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., and Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev.

The ad buy, first reported here by NBC News, comes as a response to the conservative group American Action Network's TV ad campaign launched last week, which targets a similar group of House Democrats over the budget with the goal of turning Democratic lawmakers against it.

It is an attempt to bolster the prospects of passing the so-called reconciliation bill, which is a centerpiece of Biden's economic agenda, and will require the vote of nearly every House Democrat to pass. It would be a major expansion of the social safety net, paid for with tax hikes on corporations and Americans who earn over $400,000.

The AAN ad campaign torches the package of a "socialist agenda" that will exacerbate inflation and hurt the middle class. The Future Forward response says the package will close corporate tax loopholes and tax the rich to lower costs on health care, utility bills and child care for most Americans.

"President Biden and Democrats in Congress are working to lower everyday costs for working families Right on cue, the special interests are going to pour in money to try to stop it from happening but we won't let their lies go unanswered," said Chauncey McLean, the president of Future Forward USA Action.

McAuliffe responds to Youngkin’s crime ad

Well, that didn’t take long. 

One day after Virginia Republican gubernatorial Glenn Youngkin’s campaign released a new TV ad hitting Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe on crime and linking him to Dem groups have called to “defund the police,” McAuliffe’s camp is out with this response ad

The Democratic nominee's spot features testimonials from current and former Virginia law enforcement officials: “Our job is to keep Virginia safe,” says one law enforcement official to camera.  “We know the truth about Terry McAuliffe’s record,” says another.  “When McAuliffe was governor, Virginia was the fourth-safest state in America,” says a third. 

And it goes on to try to turn Youngkin's argument around on the Republican, arguing that his comments on gun laws makes him a "threat to our safety."

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported last month, while Youngkin has spoken about protecting Second Amendment rights, he did not get an endorsement from the National Rifle Associaton. 

Youngkin plays the 'defund the police' card against McAuliffe in Virginia governor race

In Virginia’s gubernatorial contest, Republican Glenn Youngkin is out with a new TV ad linking Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe to “defund the police” advocates in his party.

The ad claims that "crime in Virginia is skyrocketing" and that "the murder rate is at a 20-year high."

“Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is running again, but how can he keep us safe? His record as governor — murder jumped 43 percent, and now he refuses to even meet with Virginia police officers. Instead, he's touting endorsements by extreme left-wing groups that want to defund the police, abolish ICE and close prisons," the ad's narrator says, pointing to calls within the Democratic Party for a smattering of police reform running the gamut from slashing police funding to diverting it reform how police interact with people. 

It's a tactic the Youngkin campaign has been more vocal with in recent weeks, including in digital videos that echo similar points. 

McAuliffe's team pushed back on the ad with a statement touting McAuliffe's record:  "We know Glenn struggles with it, so here's the truth: As governor, Terry McAuliffe made Virginia the fourth safest state in the nation. He put in place one of the toughest laws in the country to combat domestic violence, and he has released a detailed plan to keep Virginians safe, including keeping guns out of dangerous hands. Glenn Youngkin's right-wing agenda would only make Virginia less safe — he's bragged about opposing any common-sense gun safety measures, and the Washington Post says his Trumpian economic plan would defund the police."

Former GOP Attorney General Laxalt is running for Senate in Nevada

Former Nevada Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced Tuesday he's running for Senate, giving Republicans their most formidable challenge to Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. 

Laxalt revealed his decision on Tuesday morning in a social-media video, which leans heavily on the conservative culture war and argues that "right now, it seems like the wrong side is winning." 

"The radical left, rich elites, woke corporations, academia, Hollywood and the media, they are taking over America. That’s your empire, right there, telling lie after lie; making excuses for chaos and violence; censoring truth that doesn’t fit their agenda; amplifying anger and envy, they demand control; ruthlessly enforcing conformity, canceling any who stand in their way," Laxalt says in the video. 

"We must stand in their way because it's not just about us — we owe it to our kids and generations to come." 

The video goes on to mention his Navy service, which he says was inspired by the attacks on 9/11, and his time as attorney general. 

Laxalt is instantly the favorite in the GOP primary, and Republicans believe that a strong midterm environment could give them fertile ground in a battle for Senate control. With the Senate currently evenly divided, and Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote, the dynamics in every competitive race could help decide control of the Senate in 2022. 

Adam Laxalt, former Nevada attorney general, speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2021.Elijah Nouvelage / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

However, Democrats have had a string of recent successes in Nevada statewide elections — they've won every presidential election since 2004, flipped both Senate seats in 2016 and 2018, and flipped the governor's mansion in 2018 by defeating Laxalt, who was the GOP nominee.

And Democrats have pointed to Laxalt's unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial bid, as well as his repeated attempts to cast doubt on the 2020 election results in the state, to message against his candidacy. 

"Failed politician Adam Laxalt has a history of corruption and consistently uses his public position to work against Nevadans. As Attorney General, he used his office to benefit his special interest donors, and he became Donald Trump’s main lackey in Nevada by orchestrating bogus lawsuits to prop up the Big Lie and overturn the 2020 election," Nevada Democratic Victory spokesman Andy Orellana said in a statement. "While Senator Cortez Masto is putting Nevadans first, Laxalt is only ever looking out for himself.”

Voters begin to get ballots as California gubernatorial recall heats up

Mail ballots are beginning to go out in California's recall election, and we've seen a flurry of activity in the race in recent days. 

The stakes are high for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. A new online poll from CBS/YouGov found that 52 percent of likely voters plan to vote "no" and keep Newsom in office, compared to 48 percent who want to recall Newsom.

The Democrat's approval rating among adults is 57 percent and 60 percent view his handling of the coronavirus outbreak as "very good" or "somewhat good." But the story has been the same for months — the question comes down to turnout, and polling has shown Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting to recall Newsom than Democrats are about saving him.

More Republican voters in the poll (78 percent) say they definitely will vote, when compared to Democrats (73 percent), and 72 percent of Republicans say they are very motivated to vote, when compared to 61 percent of Democrats. 

It's against that backdrop that we've seen a smattering of ad spending as of late. Since July 1, Democrats have outspent Republicans $11 million to $1.7 million, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact. 

The Democratic efforts' ads include appeals by key spokespeople, including Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (who frames the recall as a costly attack by "Trump Republicans" on the results of the last gubernatorial election) and California Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla (who delivers a similar Spanish-language message). 

The Washington Post also reports that the Democratic effort is also out with a new spot that attacks surging Republican Larry Elder over recent comments opposing mask and vaccine mandates

The attacks on Elder come as he's gained traction recently. While 45 percent of voters said they were not sure who they'd vote for or would not vote for a candidate if Newsom was recalled, 23 percent said they'd support Elder, far-and-away the highest of any candidate on that question (Democratic YouTuber Kevin Paffrath scored 13 percent, while no other Republican eclipsed 3 percent. Republican Caitlyn Jenner captured just 2 percent).  

He's spent about $966,000 on TV and digital ads since the start of July, significantly more than any other Republican candidate. His recent ads have attacked Newsom on a handful of different topics — school choice, his state's Covid restrictions and his record broadly. 

Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego, is also up with a spot that highlights his record on crime, him standing up to a "defund police mob," and on balancing budgets.

All voters in California are going to be mailed ballots, which they must get postmarked by the day of the recall, Sept. 14. However, those ballots have until Sept. 21 to make it to county elections offices. 

MTP Daily: What do the Census numbers mean for redistricting?

Thursday's Census data release revealed some major population trends that have shaped the American population growth over the last decade — America is becoming less white and more multi-cultural, with more and more people fleeing rural areas and moving to the cities and suburbs. 

How these macro-level trends have played out in communities across the country will have a profound impact on how congressional lines are drawn during the forthcoming redistricting cycle, the unofficial start of which began Thursday with the release of this Census data. 

Dave Wasserman — the House editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, and an NBC News contributor — joined Friday's MTP Daily to run down some of the biggest questions facing Republicans and Democrats ahead of redistricting. He also takes a look at how the GOP-controlled Texas, the Democratic-controlled New York, and Colorado, which uses an independent commission to draw congressional maps, may fare. 

Cuomo joins list of scandal-plagued N.Y. resignations

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., officially exits office on Aug. 24, he will join a lengthy list of recent, high-ranking New York politicians who resigned thanks to scandal. 

For Cuomo, the resignation follows the release of a devastating report by State Attorney General Letitia James, which found that he had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks in Manhattan on May 11, 2021.Eduardo Munoz / Reuters file

But Cuomo is hardly the first N.Y. politician who left their position early amid scandal. Here are some of the other most prominent Empire State politicians to resign in disgrace over the last 15 years (not including those who simply chose not to run for re-election): 

Gov. Eliot Spitzer — Resigned March 2008

The once-popular Democrat won the 2006 gubernatorial race with more than 65 percent of the vote and was widely viewed as a rising star in the party. But Spitzer departed the governor’s mansion just over one year into his first term after being implicated in a prostitution ring. The scandal became a global story as the one-time “Sheriff of Wall Street,” a nickname given to Spitzer during his tenure as the state’s attorney general, saw his political career come to a rapid end thanks to his own admitted lawbreaking. 

Rep. Chris Lee — Resigned February 2011 

Lee, a Republican, was first elected to Congress in 2008 to represent New York’s 26th Congressional District, which includes portions of both Erie and Niagara County. Shortly after winning reelection in 2010, the blog site Gawker revealed that the married Lee responded to a woman's dating ad on Craigslist by sending her a shirtless photo of himself. He resigned right after the article was released and was later replaced in a special election by none other than future New York Lt. Gov. (and soon to be governor) Kathy Hochul. 

Rep. Anthony Weiner — Resigned June 2011

Perhaps more infamous for his scandals since resigning, Weiner, a Democrat, first ran for Congress in 1998 to fill the 9th Congressional District seat vacated by a Senate-bound Chuck Schumer. 

Winning seven-consecutive elections in the district, Weiner served until the discovery that he’d used his public Twitter account to send a woman a link to a sexually explicit photo of himself. After initial denials, he soon admitted to exchanging sexually explicit photos with several women in the years prior and resigned. Weiner attempted to return to politics but was caught having more lewd conversations with women, despite being married. And Weiner eventually pleaded guilty after being charged with sending an explicit message to a teenager. He eventually served 15 months in prison and is now a convicted sex offender. 

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner arrives at U.S. Federal Court in New York on Sept. 25, 2017, for sentencing after pleading guilty to one count of sending obscene messages to a minor.Lucas Jackson / Reuters file

Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — Resigned February 2015 

Silver, a Democrat, was a central power broker in New York politics for nearly 40 years. First elected to the New York State Assembly in 1977, he was elected speaker in 1994 and served in that role until he was arrested on federal corruption charges in 2015 related to bribery accusations and forced to resign. After a series of appeals in court, he was sentenced to over six years in prison last July. 

Former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — Resigned May 2018 

The one-time Democratic state senator was first elected as New York’s attorney general in 2010 and reelected in 2014. Following reporting in the New Yorker at the height of the Me Too movement in 2018, where at least four women accused Schneiderman of physical abuse between 2013 and 2016, Schneiderman resigned. Soon after, Governor Cuomo assigned Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas to look into criminal charges against him. Ultimately, Schneiderman was not prosecuted by Singas, who said “legal impediments” and statutes of limitations stood in the way. 

Rep. Chris Collins — Resigned October 2019 

Collins, a Republican, was first elected to the House in 2013 following the ousting of one-term incumbent Kathy Hochul. After serving for several years, he was arrested by the FBI in August 2018 along with his son for insider trading and lying to the bureau. After narrowly winning reelection later that year, he eventually resigned from Congress and changed his plea to guilty on conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements. Sentenced to 26 months in prison in January 2020, Collins, an ardent Trump supporter and a one-time member of his transition team in 2015, received a pardon from Trump in December of last year. 

Former Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., enters U.S. District Court ahead of a sentencing hearing on Jan. 17, 2020, in New York.Scott Heins / Getty Images file

Republicans who voted against Electoral College certification see smaller fundraising gains

Six months after about 140 House Republicans voted against the 2020 Electoral College certification after the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, members who voted that way have seen smaller increases in their fundraising, on average, than their GOP colleagues who voted to certify the results.

That’s according to an analysis by NBC News, which examined the fundraising totals of 151 House Republican lawmakers through this June, versus their totals at this same point in 2019.

While Republicans as a whole are seeing promising fundraising signs in the race for the House majority on the whole, there appears to be a clear divide between the performance of those who objected to the Electoral College count and those who did not. Note: The period of time covered in the analysis coincides with pledges from many companies to re-evaluate and their political contributions in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, although some have since gone back to business as usual.

The 96 Republicans included in the analysis who voted against certification have seen their fundraising totals increase by an average of almost 6 percent from the previous cycle.

By contrast, the 55 Republicans who did not object have witnessed their fundraising increase by an average of about 30 percent.

Among all those who objected, Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., has seen the largest drop in fundraising, raking in just over $23,000 so far this year, compared with more than $230,000 Guest had raised in the same time period in 2019.

Reps. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., Jim Baird, R-Ind., and Jodey Arrington, R-Texas were among the other objectors who saw their fundraising totals decrease by more than 70 percent versus 2019.

But Republicans are proving, as a whole, to be strong fundraisers as they push to flip both the House and Senate. The 151 Republicans analyzed have increased their fundraising numbers overall cycle-to-cycle by an average of more than 14 percent. By comparison, the 196 Democrats analyzed have seen their numbers increase by an average of just 2 percent.

The fundraising analysis did not include any lawmaker who took office after 2019 for which there is no previous fundraising cycle to compare, including prolific fundraisers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. And it does not include retiring lawmakers, or those running for higher or state-level office.

Two of the highest-profile Republicans who didn’t object to the Electoral College and who have positioned themselves against former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims the election was stolen, Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., have seen among the largest fundraising increases.

But prominent objectors have seen big fundraising gains too — Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., are among the lawmakers who have at least doubled their fundraising from this point last cycle.

The objective was to compare incumbents’ fundraising before and after Electoral College certification of the 2020 presidential election. And certainly the debate over the certification of the election is not the only variable that could contribute to a change in fundraising.

Still, this analysis — coming in an atmosphere where there is increased attention on contributors after the Jan. 6 attack — suggests that GOP objectors have seen a decline in their fundraising even as some of those same companies who once swore off donating to objectors, including UPS and American Airlines, have since returned to that practice in the months since January 6

Democratic group launches ad campaign to tout Biden agenda in key states

A nonprofit aligned with President Joe Biden is launching a new million-dollar ad campaign that aims to do double duty: promoting the president’s agenda, and backing some of the key lawmakers he hopes to keep in office beyond the 2022 midterm elections.

New ads from Building Back Together share a similar script touting Democrats’ Covid relief law and plans to spend trillions more on infrastructure, education, manufacturing and caregiving. But each is tailored to voters in the key states and congressional districts. 

Spots airing in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and New Hampshire, for example, say Biden and their Democratic senators’ “pulled our economy back from the brink. And now they’re fighting to create millions of good paying jobs and lower the costs of healthcare, child care and prescription drugs.”

All four states have a pair of Democratic senators. But only one in each — Arizona’s Mark Kelly, Nevada’s Catherine Cortez-Masto, Georgia’s Rafael Warnock, and New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan — will face voters next November in contests critical to the party’s hopes of maintaining or growing a bare-minimum Senate majority.

The organization says the 30-second TV spots will air in each of the state’s biggest TV markets on broadcast and cable. Additional digital ads will run in more than 20 targeted House districts in 12 states. The seven-figure campaign is part of an effort by Biden’s outside political allies to sustain support for his agenda, aware of how Republicans and conservative groups began turning the tide against then-President Obama’s agenda in August 2009.

“Democratic Members of Congress have worked hand in glove with President Biden to bring our economy and our families back from the brink of crisis, and now they’re going to help the President deliver on the Build Back Better Agenda so that working families can finally get ahead,” Danielle Melfi, executive director of Building Back Together, said in a statement. 

CORRECTION (Aug. 5, 2021, 11:40 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated Building Back Together's company status. It is a nonprofit advocacy organization, not a super PAC. 

Pelosi PAC urges donors to prevent the 'steal' of House majority in 2022

A fundraising pitch from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is urging her donors to prevent the “steal” of Democratic control of the House.

“They just outspent us by $14 MILLION to steal our Majorities,” warns an email under Pelosi's name to donors sent from her political action committee. The message claims that polling shows Republicans leading Democrats by one percentage point. “If we don’t regain the lead — NOW — Republicans will steal the House and decimate our Democratic Majority.”

It’s a strange turn for Pelosi, who has set up a select House Committee to investigate the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, when loyalists to then-President Donald Trump tried to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. They acted on the premise that, as Trump falsely asserted, the election had been stolen from him.

Pelosi aides did not immediately reply to a request for comment about whether she is less concerned now than she has been about the perils of undermining the credibility of the electoral system.