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Democrats hope spending deal this week can turn around Biden's polling slide

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 Joe Biden hosts a meeting with corporate chief executives and members of his cabinet to discuss the looming federal debt limit on Oct. 6, 2021 in Washington.
President Joe Biden hosts a meeting with corporate chief executives and members of his cabinet to discuss the looming federal debt limit on Oct. 6, 2021 in Washington.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — August was a rough month for President Biden and the Democrats. So was September.

And they now have seven days left to stop October from being their third-straight rocky month — ahead of next week’s neck-and-neck race for Virginia governor.

Here’s the damage Biden has sustained since August: Five different national polls released last week all showed the president’s job-approval rating in the 30s and 40s — lower than Barack Obama’s in his first year as president, but slightly higher than Donald Trump’s.

Both past presidents, you might remember, suffered considerable midterm losses, as well as gubernatorial defeats in Virginia in 2009 and 2017.

But here’s the potential promise this week could bring for Biden: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hoping to hold a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Wednesday, according to a source who has been briefed on the plan, NBC News’ Leigh Ann Caldwell and Haley Talbot report.

That’s assuming, of course, that Senate Democrats reach an agreement on their larger social spending bill.

So do Democrats reach that agreement? What does that agreement look like? And do House progressives still vote for the infrastructure bill?

Those are the questions we’ll get answers to this week — as Biden also stumps for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia (tomorrow), and as he departs on his big overseas trip (on Thursday).

And here’s what’s at stake, as we put it last month: Democrats like McAuliffe can’t afford for this entire month of October to be as bad as August and September were.

Jersey Boy

Meanwhile, Virginia isn’t the only state holding a contest for governor next week.

So is New Jersey.

And today, President Biden visits Plainfield, N.J., at 11:20 a.m. ET to discuss the universal pre-K provisions in his “Build Back Better” agenda, and he then travels to Kearny, N.J., to talk about infrastructure at a transit maintenance complex at 1:45 p.m. ET.

New Jersey's Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who’s up for re-election, joins Biden at both stops.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

$57,789: How much of his Covid-19 business relief check one man allegedly spent on a Pokémon card, leading to him being charged with wire fraud.

Almost 110,000: The number of child-care workers who have left the labor force during the pandemic.

45,478,109: 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 210,300 more since Friday morning.)

739,915: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 4,863 more since Friday morning.)

413,645,478: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 3,455,741 more since Friday morning.)

12,888,226: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,641,558 more since Friday morning.)

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

68.9 percent: The share of all Americans 18-years and older who are fully vaccinated, per the CDC.

What Obama said in Virginia

Former President Barack Obama campaigned in Richmond, Va., on Saturday for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s gubernatorial contest.

Some of the highlights from Obama, per NBC’s Gary Grumbach: “So we're at a turning point right now, both here in America and around the world. ‘Cause there's a mood out there. We see it. There's a politics of meanness. And division. And conflict. Of tribalism and cynicism. And that's one path. But the good news is there's another path. Where we pull together. And we solve big problems. And we rebuild our society in a way that gives more and more people a better life. And that's the choice.”

Also: “When your supporters hold a rally where they pledge allegiance to a flag that was flown at the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 – the biggest threat to our democracy in my lifetime. When you don't separate yourselves from them, when you when you don't think that's a problem. Well, you know what? That's a problem.”

More: “You can't run ads, telling me you’re a regular old hoops-playing, dish-washing, fleece-wearing guy but quietly cultivate support from those who seek to tear down our democracy.” (Youngkin did release a statement saying it was “weird and wrong” to pledge allegiance to that Jan. 6 flag.)

On the campaign trail today, Terry McAuliffe receives an endorsement from the Virginia Beach African American PAC in Virginia Beach, Va., while Glenn Youngkin stumps in Norfok and Suffolk.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Associated Press reports that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., has blessed some of the taxes the White House wants to impose on the wealthy in order to pay for its reconciliation package.

As the Democratic reconciliation bill continues to be overhauled in the hopes of winning support, Politico breaks down what’s still in it.

President Biden is on the sidelines of 'Striketober' with economy in the balance.

A top Microsoft security official says Russia has launched a new, significant cyber campaign against the U.S. government and other allies.

The Sudanese military has detained the country’s prime minister in what’s being described as a coup, prompting demonstrations in the nation’s capital.

Thousands of documents reveal turmoil at Facebook, capturing the deepest look yet at high-stakes internal decisions.