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The 'silent majority' is speaking on coronavirus and Trump is on the other side

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: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during his visit at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, S.D., on July 3, 2020.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Trump, who this past week has falsely claimed that the coronavirus is harmless for 99 percent of cases and said that the pandemic will disappear, is on the wrong side of public opinion about the virus.

That’s the unmistakable conclusion from the first installment of our online NBC News |SurveyMonkey Weekly Tracking Poll on social and economic issues.

According to the poll, a combined 70 percent of Americans are “very” or “somewhat” worried that they or someone in their family will be exposed to the coronavirus. That includes 88 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and even 51 percent of Republicans.

Seventy-nine percent are worried about a potential second wave of the virus, and that includes 95 percent of Dems, 83 percent of indies and 62 percent of Republicans.

Now there’s partisan disagreement in the poll on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus (86 percent of Republicans approve, while 92 percent of Democrats disapprove) and on reopening businesses (61 percent of Republicans say their biggest concern is that they’ll reopen too slowly, while 87 percent of Dems say their biggest worry is that they’ll reopen too quickly).

But the Republican responses here are the outliers: Trump’s overall coronavirus approval stands at 43 percent, and 63 percent of Americans are more concerned that businesses will reopen too quickly.

And check out these numbers: 70 percent of Americans say they trust their own governor over Trump when it comes to reopening businesses in their area.

That includes 93 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and even nearly half of Republicans (45 percent).

The public-opinion debate about the coronavirus is over, and President Trump is on the losing side.

And that might explain why Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who’s 86 years old, said he’s not attending next month’s Republican convention.

"I’m not going to go. And I’m not going to go because of the virus situation," he said.

The most racist tweet of Trump’s presidency?

He’s referred to LeBron James and CNN’s Don Lemon as being “dumb.”

He’s said the same of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

Back in May, Trump called the protesters reacting to George Floyd’s death “thugs,” adding: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

And he retweeted that video of an apparent supporter saying “white power” (which he later deleted).

But perhaps the most racist tweet of Trump’s presidency — at least when directed at African Americans and authored by him — came yesterday.

In one single tweet, he asked the lone major Black NASCAR driver, Bubba Wallace, to apologize for the NASCAR community uniting behind him after finding a noose in his garage; he said the entire episode was a “hoax” (when there was an actual noose, even if the FBI concluded it had been in that garage well before Wallace was ever assigned to it); and to top it off, he attributed lower NASCAR ratings to its decision to bar the Confederate flag.

In fact, NASCAR’s ratings are up.

It all raises the question: What is Trump trying to get out of this?

Does he legitimately think, as NBC’s Benjy Sarlin suggested yesterday, that there are potential swing voters who back the Confederate flag?

And does he really think he can drive the coronavirus out of the news?

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

2,956,013: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 56,547 more cases than yesterday morning.)

131,323: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 386 more than yesterday morning.)

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

A quarter of a million: The number of new coronavirus cases reported in the first five days of July.

As much as $150 million: The total of PPP loans approved for affiliates of Planned Parenthood, according to new disclosures by the SBA

At least $150,000: The PPP loan approved for an affiliate of small-government organization Americans for Tax Reform

Between $1 million and $2 million: The PPP loan approved for the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, New Jersey

Between $2 million and $5 million: The PPP loan approved for Kanye West’s limited liability company.

$1.6 billion: How much the government will pay vaccine developer Novavax to expedite the development of 100 million doses of a vaccine by the beginning of next year.

2020 Vision

Previewing today’s primaries in New Jersey: Delaware and New Jersey are holding their primaries today, and the Garden State has the real action we’re watching.

Here’s the preview of the New Jersey races, per NBC’s Alex Domb.

N.J.-2: Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., who switched parties from Democrat to Republican, is getting a GOP challenge, while Democrats will pick their nominee (with the leading candidates being political scientist Brigid Callahan Harrison and Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy).

N.J.-3: Republicans Kate Gibbs and David Richter are battling for the right to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J.

N.J.-7: Republicans, including Tom Kean Jr., are competing for the opportunity to challenge Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J.

N.J.-8: Dem Rep. Albio Sires is getting a primary challenge from the left from lawyer Hector Oseguera.

Ad watch from Ben Kamisar

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, joined a chorus of GOP candidates making tough-on-China pitches this cycle, NBC’s Liz Brown-Kaiser reported Monday.

Ernst’s first 2020 TV ad centered on the “supply chain threat” posed by the country, arguing that “we rely on communist China for far too much” and that she wants to “bring it home.”

It’s the latest in a long line of Republican (and a few Democratic) candidates who have leaned heavily into attacks on China as part of their messaging as they look to carve out a message on the coronavirus that doesn’t include litigating the Trump administration’s response.

McConnell talks about more coronavirus relief

Speaking in Kentucky yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went further than he has before on his plans for the next phase of coronavirus relief.

“I'll be unveiling something, which will be a starting point, in a few weeks. And we'll be dealing with the administration and the Democrats all the rest. I can't comfortably predict we're going to come together and pass it unanimously like we did a few months ago. There are a few more – the atmosphere has become more political than it was in March – but I think we will do something, the country needs one last boost,” McConnell said, per NBC’s Capitol Hill team.

The Lid: Ye of little faith

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we delved into the Supreme Court’s decision on “faithless electors.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Jon Huntsman lost his primary bid for Utah governor.

Possible VP pick and Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has tested positive for COVID-19.

Roger Stone wants another delay in starting his prison sentence.

The white woman who called the police on a Black man birdwatching in Central Park faces a false report charge.

ICE says that international students in the U.S. must take in-person classes in order to remain in the country legally.