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With Roe v. Wade in the balance, the 2016 election looms ever larger

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: Women's March \"Hold The Line For Abortion Justice\" At The Supreme Court During Jackson Women's Health Organization v. Dobbs Hearing
Participants hold signs during the Women's March "Hold The Line For Abortion Justice" at the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021 in Washington.Leigh Vogel / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — All elections have consequences. But some elections — like 2016 — are more consequential than others.

That’s the stark reality of this week’s big news that the new 6-3 conservative U.S. Supreme Court appears almost certain to uphold Mississippi’s restrictive abortion law — as well as possibly overturn Roe v. Wade.

Yes, Donald Trump was a one-term president, joining the likes of Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But he also appointed three Supreme Court justices, replacing conservative Antonin Scalia, swing vote Anthony Kennedy and liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Trump installed scores more conservative judges on federal and appeals courts, many of whom are thwarting President Biden’s immigration and Covid response plans.

He pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, and it looks like the current chances of reviving it are slim.

He also left the Paris climate accord, delivering a blow to the Obama Era’s response to climate change (though Biden rejoined it after assuming office).

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2 percentage points, 48 percent to 46 percent, but lost the Electoral College by a combined 77,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In 2020, Democrats regrouped — they boosted their turnout (though so did the GOP); they did a better job of managing Bernie Sanders and the progressive wing of the party; they discredited the Jill Steins and the Green Party — and Joe Biden won the popular vote by 4.5 percentage points and won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by a combined 257,000 votes.

But ask yourself: Which was the election cycle — 2016 or 2020 — that mattered more when it came to the Supreme Court and locking in the Obama agenda?

The answer is pretty obvious. Especially after this week.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

78: The number of days until the government runs out of funding again.

$7.4 billion: The amount from the bipartisan infrastructure law that will be distributed next year alone to overhaul water infrastructure and replace lead pipes.

48,856,194: 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 147,863 more since yesterday morning.)

788,778: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,566 since yesterday morning.)

464,445,580: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 2,181,735 since yesterday morning.)

42,973,222: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,039,812 since yesterday morning.)

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

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

Dr. Oz is up on the air in Pennsylvania Senate

Well, that was fast.

Republican Dr. Oz is already on Pennsylvania’s airwaves with new 30- and 60-second TV ads that are almost identical to his announcement video from earlier this week. Per AdImpact, it’s a $1.3 million buy.

“Covid has shown us that our system is broken. We lost too many lives, too many jobs, and too many opportunities because Washington got it wrong. They took away our freedom without making us safer, and tried to kill our spirit and our dignity,” he says in the 60-second spot.

(Just asking, but does Dr. Oz include Trump and his administration when saying Washington got Covid wrong?)

And he concludes in the ad, “Pennsylvania needs a conservative who will put America first, one who can reignite our divine spark, bravely fight for freedom, and tell it like it is.”

Stacey Abrams discusses bid for Georgia governor

Meanwhile, Stacey Abrams spoke with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Thursday night after her announcement that she’s running for Georgia governor.

On her bid and message: “I believe in our state. I believe that we have the capacity to be an extraordinary place for families to grow, for people to succeed and thrive, and I think we have a failed leader who is currently occupying the office. My mission is service. And to serve people, you have to care about them. You have to care about all of them.”

And on her non-concession after losing in 2018: “And on the night on the 16th of November when I acknowledged that I would not become governor, that [Republican Brian Kemp] had won the election, I did not challenge the outcome of the election unlike some recent folks did. What I said was that the system was not fair. And leaders challenge systems. Leaders say we can do better. And that’s what I declared.”

She added, “I could not in good conscience say that in order to protect my political future, I’m going to be silent about the political present, which is that we have a system under a leader that sought to keep people from casting their ballot, that threw those ballots out, that said that voter suppression was a viable tactic for winning elections.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

A handful of new cases of the omicron variant are popping up around the country.

The White House’s new testing requirement for international arrivals has some concerned about whether they can find a test with a quick enough turn-around time.

South African researchers believe omicron can “evade immunity from prior infection.”