Most Democratic primary voters are 'still shopping' for a 2020 candidate

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Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke greets supporters during a campaign rally on June 28, 2019, in Austin, Texas.Nick Wagner / Austin American-Statesman via AP

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

WASHINGTON — Exactly 200 days away until the Iowa caucuses and 208 days until the New Hampshire primary, the most significant news in the Democratic presidential contest isn’t who’s up or down in the horserace.

Instead, it’s the overwhelming percentage of Democratic voters who say they’ve yet to make up their minds.

Our most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found just 12 percent of Dem primary voters saying their minds are definitely made up.

The poll also showed that just 39 percent are paying “very” close attention to the race, versus more than 60 percent who are paying some, little or no attention to it.

And this week, a CNN/University of New Hampshire poll found only 16 percent of likely New Hampshire primary voters saying they’ve definitely decided on their candidate.

That’s compared with 20 percent who said they were leaning towards someone and a whopping 64 percent who said they’re still trying to decide.

“Still shopping,” Jamie Harrison and Kathy George of Peterborough, N.H. told NBC’s Julia Jester and Amanda Golden while waiting in line to see Elizabeth Warren on July 8.

“It’s still so early. I’m between Sanders and Warren, and still doing recon too. I think people want more information,” added Traci Joy of Nashua, N.H.

And Mattea Citarella, a first-time voter from Stratham, told our New Hampshire embed reporters that she’s considering Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg — while attending an event for Joe Biden.

“That is what makes this election so unpredictable and exciting,” she said.

So for all of the attention on the movement in the Democratic horserace — “Biden’s ahead!” “Warren is moving up!” “Bernie is moving down!” — remember that most Democrats haven’t made up their minds yet.

Which means we’re still bound for several more surprises between now and the first contests.

“Send her back”

NBC’s Jonathan Allen’s dispatch on last night’s chilling Trump campaign rally in North Carolina:

“One day after the House voted to condemn his racist tweets, and just hours after it killed a resolution to impeach him, President Donald Trump resumed his rhetorical assault on four freshman Democratic women lawmakers Wednesday at a re-election rally in Greenville, N.C.”

"These left-wing ideologues see our nation as a force for evil," Trump said of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

"Omar laughed that Americans speak of al Qaeda in a menacing tone," he added. "You don’t say America with this intensity. You say al Qaeda makes you proud. Al Qaeda makes you proud. You don’t speak that way about America," he added, referring to her remarks in a 2013 interview. (PolitiFact has rated his characterization of Omar’s remarks as “false.”)

The crowd broke into a chant of "Send her back!" Allen writes.

Tweet of the day

Mark Sanford’s primary challenge against Trump looks very real

Former South Carolina Gov. and Congressman Mark Sanford has released this video:

“I’m frustrated with many things in Washington these days. But on the top of my list is the way people there have seemingly forgotten that debt, deficits and spending really do matter,” Sanford says to camera.

“You can have a parade in Washington with lots of military equipment, as the president ordered for the 4th of July. You can avoid talking about it, as people are in Washington or in the presidential race. But these things do not make us strong – and they don’t make the problem go away.”

Remember, modern incumbent presidents who have avoided credible primary challenges have gone on to win re-election (Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama).

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And those who received credible primary challenges have lost (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush).

2020 Vision: Let the drawing of lots commence!

At 8:00 pm ET, CNN will hold a live random drawing to determine which presidential candidates participate on what night of the upcoming debates on July 30-31.

CNN’s drawing is divided into three parts.

Draw #1 includes 10 candidates with the lowest polling averages: Bennet, Bullock, de Blasio, Delaney, Gabbard, Gillibrand, Hickenlooper, Inslee, Ryan and Williamson.

Draw #2 includes six with middling polling averages: Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Klobuchar, O’Rourke and Yang.

Draw #3 includes the four with the highest polling averages: Biden, Harris, Sanders and Warren.

The idea is to evenly split up the three groups into two nights of debates.

On the campaign trail

Elizabeth Warren and Steve Bullock stump in Iowa… Julian Castro is in New Hampshire, hitting Portsmouth and Nashua… Joe Biden raises money in Los Angeles… And Pete Buttigieg addresses the Young Democrats of America National Convention in Indianapolis.

Dispatches from NBC’s embeds

John Hickenlooper held a meet-and-greet in Laconia, N.H., where he was met with an inquisitive group of high school students.

NBC’s Julia Jester and Amanda Golden have the highlights: “He also seemed to not quite answer the questions he was asked, on more than one occasion. Two prime examples: When asked about what he would do to strengthen early childhood education, he talked about women’s rights. When asked about how he would aim to make college more affordable, his answer was to fix health care and skill-train workers He could not articulate an actual plan to deal with mental health across the country (aside from saying it’s a national epidemic), especially for students (when asked by students in attendance, twice). The high schoolers easily discerned that he did not answer their questions.”

Data Download: The number of the day is … 57 percent

57 percent.

That’s the share of Republicans who agree with this statement, according to a Pew Research Center analysis: “If America is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation.”

That’s up more than 10 points from the same survey last year, when just 44 percent of Republicans agreed.

Overall, the survey finds that the majority position in the country is the other option provided to respondents, which was that “America’s openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as a nation.”

About six-in-ten Americans agreed with that statement, including 86 percent of Democrats but just 37 percent of Republicans.

The Lid: Take it to the bank

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at why the second quarter of presidential fundraising maybe got a little bit less attention than the first quarter did.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

Democrats agree that they shouldn’t remake the mistakes of 2016, writes the New York Times. The problem? They can’t agree on what the mistakes were.

The Washington Post has more on that party at Mar-a-Lago that included Trump, Jeffrey Epstein and NFL cheerleaders.

Sen. Johnny Isakson is in the hospital after a fall.

Thousands of protestors called on Puerto Rico’s governor to resign.

Microsoft is planning to give away software to shield U.S. voting machines from cyberattacks.

Trump agenda: Deal or no deal?

Senate Republicans are hoping that the administration will accept a budget deal — but there’s some worry that he’ll reject any bipartisan compromise.

Here’s why Rand Paul says he blocked a bill to boost funds for 9/11 victims.

Dem agenda: Held in contempt

What comes next for Planned Parenthood?

Here’s what went down with yesterday’s impeachment vote in the House.

And the House voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce chief Wilbur Ross in contempt.

Lawmakers were not happy with Facebook’s cryptocurrency plans

2020: Who qualified for the debate – and who didn’t

Here’s who qualified for the second Democratic primary debate.

Benjy Sarlin wraps Bernie Sanders’ defense of Medicare for All yesterday.

Big-time Democratic donors are overwhelmingly favoring Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris.

The Marines are telling California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter to stop using their emblem in campaign materials.