A stark divide emerges inside the GOP

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President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a press conference on Capitol Hill on May 19, 2020.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann and Melissa Holzberg

WASHINGTON — As President Trump’s numbers have declined in recent weeks, our NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that some of that erosion has come from inside his own party — among the non-Trump wing of the GOP.

In short, Trump doesn’t have a base problem. Rather, he has a Republican problem.

According to the poll, 53 percent of all Republican voters say they consider themselves more supporters of Trump than the party, while 39 percent say they’re more supporters of the party than Trump.

And among this non-Trump wing of the GOP, just 54 percent approve of his handling of the coronavirus (versus 92 percent of Trump supporters); 46 percent approve of his handling of race relations (versus 91 percent); and only 32 percent say they prefer a congressional candidate who focuses more on reopening businesses than controlling the virus (versus 69 percent).

Even on the presidential ballot, just 70 percent of the non-Trump wing of the GOP say they’re voting for Trump (versus 100 percent of Trump supporters), and only 64 percent say they’re enthusiastic or comfortable with Trump’s candidacy (versus 100 percent).

It might be easy to dismiss these non-Trump Republicans as a minority of the party.

But you need them if you want to win re-election.

And if Trump loses in November, they will have a say in the future direction of their party.

The Battle of Atlanta

If Republicans believe they have a political problem in Atlanta’s suburbs, is this really the best way to fix it?

“Georgia's governor on Thursday sued Atlanta's mayor over that city's mask law, a day after the governor banned local governments from requiring the coverings that health experts say help to stop the spread of COVID-19,” per NBC News.

"The State of Georgia continues to urge citizens to wear masks. This lawsuit is about the rule of law," Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement.

On “Today” this morning, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms accused GOP Gov. Brian Kemp of playing politics.

“I don’t think it’s happenstance that this lawsuit came the day after Donald Trump visited Atlanta, and I pointed out that he was violating city law by not having on a mask at Atlanta’s Hartsville-Jackson International Airport,” Lance Bottoms told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.

When Guthrie asked if Kemp was playing politics with his lawsuit, the mayor said yes: “I absolutely do. I think that he is putting politics over people.”

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

3,597,548: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 77,010 more cases than yesterday morning.)

139,333: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 978 more than yesterday morning.)

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

$350 billion: How much Democrats want for minority communities in the latest coronavirus relief bill.

More than a million: The number of coronavirus cases in India, which now ranks third in the world on infections.

Just 38 percent: The share of Americans who approve of the president’s handling of coronavirus, according to a new ABC-Washington Post poll.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Unmasking the electorate, Part 2

Last month’s NBC News/WSJ poll showed whether or not you wear a mask when you’re in public tells you a lot about your 2020 vote.

And the same holds true in our most recent July poll — even as the percentage of voters who say they always wear a mask has increased.

In our poll, 74 percent of all registered voters say they always wear a mask when they're in public (up from 63 percent last month), and Joe Biden leads Trump by 29 points among these voters, 60 percent to 31 percent. (Biden’s lead here last month was 40 points.)

Fourteen percent of voters say they sometimes wear a mask, and Trump is ahead here by 43 points, 66 percent to 23 percent. (It was 32 points last month.)

And 11 percent of voters say they never or rarely wear a mask, and Trump leads here by a whopping 72 points, 83 percent to 11 percent. (It was 76 points last month.)

Ad watch from Ben Kamisar

Today’s Ad Watch confirms something many suspected — remember those ads attacking Andrew Romanoff in the Colorado Senate Democratic primary? Well, Majority Forward (the non-profit ally of the Senate Majority Fund, which had backed John Hickenlooper) was behind them.

It's far from the first time an outside group formed in the final weeks of a campaign is ultimately revealed as a shell for a larger group's ambitions. It's a tactic both parties have relied upon in recent years, with a few recent, high-profile examples coming from Democrats.

We’ve seen it in Alabama’s 2017 Senate special election and earlier this cycle in North Carolina.

And it’s a good reminder now that we know another mysterious, Democratic-linked group is running ads in Kansas seeming to boost Republican Kris Kobach in that state's GOP Senate primary.

Read more from the MTP Blog here.

Negotiating time

The next round of coronavirus relief is likely to be over $1 trillion, per NBC’s Hill team: “Republicans and Democrats are now staking out their negotiating positions, with Republicans privately acknowledging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told his colleagues he thinks at least $1 trillion is required in the next bill. Some in his conference want more, sources said.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested on Thursday that the administration and Senate Republicans have set the number at $1.3 trillion, but said repeatedly that’s ‘not enough’ and that she and House Democrats will demand a higher number.

“First it was going to be no bill. And then it was going to be some little bill. Now it's 1.3, it's not enough. It's not enough,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday.

Unemployment benefits will run out for millions of Americans by the end of July, but it’s not clear yet that legislation will be passed by then – and Pelosi has left open the possibility of keeping the House in session in the first week of August to pass the bill.

The Lid: America, the Beautiful?

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at a finding in our latest poll about how voters rate America as a place to live.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

NBC’s Jonathan Allen looks at what’s behind Trump’s accusation that Joe Biden wants to “abolish the suburbs.”

Trump’s niece claims that she has heard him use racial and anti-Semitic slurs.

Elizabeth Warren wants an investigation into virus relief funds.

Here’s how the counties in NBC’s “County to County” project are faring in the age of coronavirus.

Justin Amash won’t seek reelection.

The New York Times asks if Ohio is maybe in play in 2020 after all.

The Washington NFL football team faces accusations of sexual harassment and a toxic culture, per a new Washington Post report.