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The Republican Party continues to empower Trump's election falsehoods

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.
Former President Donald Trump arrives for a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Oct. 9, 2021, in Des Moines.
Former President Donald Trump arrives for a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Oct. 9, 2021, in Des Moines.Scott Olson / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — For all of the Democrats’ problems we’ve examined over the last few weeks – President Biden’s declining poll numbers, the progressive-versus-moderate infighting over Biden’s legislative agenda, the party’s fragile congressional majorities – there’s a more consequential problem staring at us right now.

America’s democracy is in crisis.

The former president of the United States continues to insist he didn’t lose an election in which he got 7 million fewer votes and 74 fewer electoral votes than the winner did.

“I never conceded,” Donald Trump said to cheers in Iowa Saturday night. “No reason to concede.”

That former president – 11 months after his defeat and nine months after Jan. 6 – holds a stronger-than-ever grip over his party.

“Come here... I'm thrilled to announce tonight that Sen. Chuck Grassley has my complete and total endorsement for reelection, Chuck,” Trump said Saturday night in Iowa.

“I was born at night but not last night. So if I didn't accept the endorsement of a person who's got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart,” Grassley replied. “I’m smart enough to accept that endorsement.”

Republican Party leaders continue to cast doubts on the legitimacy of the 2020 election – the same election from which they picked up House seats.

“If you look at a number of states, they didn't follow their state-passed laws that govern the election for president,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said on Sunday.

Base GOP voters freely invoke terms like “civil war.”

“We’re not going to take it anymore,” one woman who attended Trump’s Iowa rally told NBC News. “I see a civil war coming.”

And as Congress tries to investigate what happened on Jan. 6, Trump has instructed his former aides to ignore subpoenas from the House’s Jan. 6 Committee, as he has asserted executive privilege over documents the committee has requested.

“This committee's fake investigation is not about January 6th any more than the Russia Hoax was about Russia,” Trump said in a statement Friday night.

Bottom line: If a losing president refuses to concede, if that same former president only gets stronger and stronger inside his party, and if many in that same party believe that Jan. 6 wasn’t a big deal, then we have a really significant problem on our hands.

Poll: Just 10 percent know "a lot" of the specifics of Biden's 'Build Back Better' plan

Back to the Democrats’ problems…

While a new CBS News poll finds that the major components of Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan are popular – like lowering prescription drug prices, paid family leave, universal pre-K – Americans say they don’t know a lot about the specifics of Biden’s plan.

And only a third say that Biden’s plan would help them are their families.

Per the CBS poll, just 10 percent of Americans say they know “a lot” of the specifics about Biden’s plan, another 33 percent have a “general sense” and know some specifics, and a combined 57 percent say they don’t know any specifics or anything that’s in it.

Maybe more ominously for Democrats, 36 percent say Biden’s plan would help them and their families, 33 percent say it would hurt them, and 31 percent say it would have no effect.

Tweet of the day: Burn after eating

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

82: The number of days until the child tax credit, which Democrats are pointing to as a key legislative accomplishment ahead of next year’s midterms, expires unless the party can agree on expanding it.

$610 million: How much has been spent containing the Dixie Fire in the Northern California area.

90 percent: The full vaccination rate of the Navy (active duty) ahead of a Nov. 28 Covid-19 vaccination deadline, per the Washington Post.

76.5 percent: The full vaccination rate of the Marine Corps (active duty) ahead of the same vaccination deadline.

44,390,062: 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 177,309 more since Friday morning.)

718,160: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 3,363 more since Friday morning.)

401,819,240: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 2,266,796 more since Friday morning.)

7,786,263: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC.

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

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

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Questions arise over how OSHA will be able to enforce President Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate.

Merck is requesting FDA approval for a Covid-19 antiviral pill that it says could open up a new front in the battle against the virus.

Designers share their views on what a Covid-19 memorial could be like.

Gen. Ray Odierno, who served in a variety of roles including as Army chief of staff, passed away Friday at 67.

Iowa’s days as the first presidential nominating contest for Democrats may be numbered.

The New York Times catalogs a series of issues related to gift exchanges between former President Trump’s White House and foreign countries, including that furs given to him by the Saudi royal family were fakes.