Governors who took the virus seriously from the start get a boost

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.
Gov. Roy Cooper answers a question during a briefing in Raleigh, N.C., on July 1, 2020.
Gov. Roy Cooper answers a question during a briefing in Raleigh, N.C., on July 1, 2020.Ethan Hyman / The News & Observer via AP

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann and Melissa Holzberg

WASHINGTON — Our new NBC News/Marist polls of Arizona and North Carolina tell a pretty similar story — President Trump trails in both battlegrounds, as does the incumbent GOP senator.

But there’s a significant difference between the two polls: North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper holds a 59 percent approval rating among voters in his state, while Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey has a 39 percent rating in his state.

What’s more, Cooper, who’s up for re-election this year in a battleground state, is ahead in his gubernatorial contest by 20 points, according to the NBC/Marist poll.

And the poll shows that North Carolina voters — by a 2-to-1 margin — say the state was right to prioritize health protocols for the GOP convention that was supposed to occur there, despite Trump calling the protocols too strict. (The poll was conducted before Trump reversed course, canceling the convention speech he had moved from Charlotte to Jacksonville, Fla.)

It’s all a reminder that the governors — Democratic or Republicans — who have taken the coronavirus seriously from the beginning are getting credit from their voters.

And the governors who haven’t — either by originally downplaying it, or reopening their states too early — are getting penalized.

See Ducey in our Arizona poll. Or Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a recent Quinnipiac poll (48 percent approval). Or Gov. Ron DeSantis in another Quinnipiac survey (41 percent approval).

Tar-heeled and feathered

And that reminder of taking the coronavirus seriously from the beginning or not brings us to President Trump, who travels to North Carolina today to participate in a coronavirus briefing at a biotechnology firm.

As we wrote on Friday, he railed at Gov. Cooper for putting restrictions in place to combat the coronavirus.

“I love the Great State of North Carolina, so much so that I insisted on having the Republican National Convention in Charlotte at the end of August. Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed...”

He ridiculed Democrats who — months ago — started to plan for a virtual convention.

“Joe Biden wanted the date for the Democrat National Convention moved to a later time period. Now he wants a “Virtual” Convention, one where he doesn’t have to show up. Gee, I wonder why? Also, what ever happened to that phone call he told the Fake News he wanted to make to me?”

He moved his acceptance speech from North Carolina to Florida.

And then on Thursday, he canceled that in-person event in Jacksonville.

The results from our NBC/Marist poll of North Carolina (conducted before that cancellation): Trump trails Biden by 7 points, and his approval rating in the state is 41 percent among registered voters, and just 34 percent of voters say he’d do a better job than Biden in handling the coronavirus.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

4,257,304: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 207,027 more cases than Friday morning.)

147,821: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 2,657 more than Friday morning.)

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

11 points: The net drop in Trump’s approval rating in North Carolina since March, per our latest NBC/Marist poll.

2020 Vision: Presidential ad spending outpaces 2016

According to ad spending data from Advertising Analytics, the Trump and Biden campaigns have spent a combined $139 million over the TV and radio airwaves as of last Friday, with the Trump camp spending a total of $95 million throughout the entire campaign and the Biden camp $44 million.

Compare that to 2016, when the combined Trump camp-vs.-Clinton camp ad spending at this same point in the cycle was $94 million — $75 million for Clinton and $19 million for Trump.

Tweet of the day

Well? We’re waiting

The Senate Republican/White House coronavirus relief package should be released sometime today, and over the weekend Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and President Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows met with staff on the Hill to make final changes to the bill.

Here’s Mnuchin on Saturday, per our Hill team.

“As we said on Friday, we have a fundamental understanding and we just want to make sure all the paperwork is ready and finished so it can be introduced on Monday,” Mnuchin said.

On unemployment benefits, Mnuchin said “Let me just say we’ve actually had a fundamental agreement on this. I think the issue has just been more of a mechanical issue of how we institute it, but the fundamental issue we all acknowledged there was a technical problem, where we were in an emergency last time so we instituted this quickly and in certain cases people were paid more to stay home than they were to work.”

He added, “We’re not going to use taxpayer money to pay people more to stay home. So we’re going to transition to a UI system that is based on wage replacement. We’ve talked about approximately 70 percent of wage replacement. And we’re just going through the mechanics of that.”

The Lid: 28 Days Later

Don’t miss the pod from Friday, when we looked at how it took Pennsylvania four weeks to count all of its ballots from its June 2 primary.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Here’s our team’s look at John Lewis’s last trip across the bridge in Selma.

Pro-Trump super PAC America First Action is getting outspent by its Democratic rivals.

The biggest terror threat in Europe and the U.S. used to be jihadists. Now it’s the far right.

The president now says he won’t throw the first pitch at a Yankees game in August after all.

Republicans are jockeying for power on the Hill as they eye a possible post-Trump world.

The New York Times takes a look at the Montana Senate race.

Dan Balz assesses the state of America’s global standing during the pandemic.

Local leaders in New Jersey say that Trump isn’t telling the whole story about a voter fraud case.

And Politico examines the case against Kamala Harris as VP.