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New Hampshire sits at the center of the battle for Senate control in 2022

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: New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu introduces Vice President Mike Pence during the GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu introduces Vice President Mike Pence during the GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner on June 3, 2021 in Manchester, N.H.Scott Eisen / Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — It’s not a presidential election cycle, but the state of New Hampshire is poised to play a critical role in the fight for power in Washington, D.C. once again in 2022.

All eyes are on New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, who many Republicans view as one of the key ingredients to taking back control of the upper chamber — if he mounts a Senate bid.

But while the political world waits for that decision, the rough-and-tumble world of political advertising certainly is not waiting for anything. The New Hampshire race already ranks as the third-most expensive Senate race in the country when it comes to ad spending, according to AdImpact, with $2.9 million already spent.

And before the field is even set, both sides are making clear this will be a nationalized race.

Progressive groups are taking swipes at Sununu over things like signing new abortion restrictions, ahead of a major Supreme Court decision on abortion next year. And they’re calling him Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “handpicked” candidate, trying to counter his strong approval rating in the state by tying him to Washington. (Expect them to also try to tie Sununu to former President Donald Trump, who weighed in last month to say he’d “like to see [Sununu] run.)

Republicans are working a similar angle, tying Hassan to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer while attacking H.R.1/S. 1 as Hassan’s “Washington power grab.”

So far, six groups have already spent at least six figures on ads, all for a race that doesn’t have a Republican candidate — yet.

Sununu has been open about his decision-making process, explaining it to NBC’s Henry Gomez in this great story last month. And he has a lot of factors to weigh, not the least of which being how nationalized this race might become.

The governor has held onto strong approval numbers despite the difficult job of weathering the storm of the pandemic, and he's positioned himself well for a northeastern Republican — he's strong with independents and has been able to walk a careful line with Trump.

That's the kind of profile that has Republicans salivating over a potential bid. But that balancing act gets tougher if he runs for Senate, when it would be harder to keep national forces and Trump at an arm’s length, and away from his political legacy.

A dire warning from U.N. climate scientists

A new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes a blunt pronouncement: Global warming has been unprecedented and the effects are irreversible for the long-term. But the world knows what it needs to do to curb those effects and it needs to act now.

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It’s a reminder that while the politics over the issue may not be settled, science doesn’t wait for a political consensus to shake out.

Here are a few of the top findings from the sobering report that one top climate scientist called a "reality check":

  • "Human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2000 years."
  • "Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe."
  • "Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level."
  • "Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades."

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

1 million: The number of students who did not show up for school last year, either in person or online.

463,477 acres: The size of the Dixie Fire, now the second-largest in California history, which has blazing for weeks.

35,841,717: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 252,407 more than Friday morning.)

620,690: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,532 more than Friday morning.)

351,400,930: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 2,434,511 since Friday morning.)

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

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

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ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Some hospitals are seeing an uptick in children seriously sick with Covid-19.

The Washington Post has a deep dive into how the delta variant upended the battle against Covid.

A federal judge will allow Norwegian Cruise Line to move forward with plans to require passengers show proof of Covid vaccination, even though its against Florida law.

The Taliban continues to amass territory as American forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

A top Cuomo aide has resigned amidst the fallout from the attorney general investigation into the governor.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is interviewing former DOJ officials about Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

The Jan. 6 Committee has hired former GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman to a senior staff position.