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Suburban voters fuel Biden's lead in Pennsylvania

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: Supporters of Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-0CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Supporters of Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden stand outside the AFL-0CIO headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 7, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If you want to know how Joe Biden could be tied in Florida but ahead in Pennsylvania by 9 points among likely voters, per our new NBC News/Marist polls, we have two answers for you.

One, Miami isn’t Philadelphia — either in size or demographic composition.

And two, the Florida suburbs aren’t the Pennsylvania suburbs, especially those around Philly.

Just look at the numbers: While Biden leads Trump by 15 points in the Miami area (56 percent to 41 percent), he’s up by a whopping 67 points in Philadelphia proper (82 percent to 15 percent), and by 28 points in the Philly burbs (62 percent to 34 percent).

So Biden is winning by a greater margin in the Philadelphia suburbs than he is in the Miami region.

Another set of numbers: While Biden leads Trump by 9 points among likely Florida voters from big cities (53 percent to 44 percent), he’s up by more than 50 points among those from Pennsylvania’s big cities (75 percent to 22 percent).

And while Biden is up by 6 points overall in Florida’s suburbs (52 percent to 46 percent), he’s ahead by 19 points in the Pennsylvania burbs (58 percent to 39 percent).

Joe Biden’s biggest demographic strengths are with Black voters and whites (both college-educated and non-college — compared with four years ago), as well as in large metropolitan suburbs.

So it makes a lot of sense, as CNN’s Harry Enten points out, why Biden might look stronger in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – and even places like Georgia.

And why he’s weaker, on average, in Florida, especially when he’s underperforming among Latinos from four years ago.

But a caveat on the Latino vote: There’s a significant difference between Florida Latinos and those from the Southwest.

Otherwise, Arizona wouldn’t be in play for Biden and the Democrats.

Watching the Catholic vote in Pennsylvania

Here are some other interesting numbers from our NBC/Marist poll of Pennsylvania: White Catholics make up 24 percent of all likely voters in the state, and they’re breaking for Trump by 10 points, 53 percent to 43 percent.

But there’s a divide.

Among those who say they’re practicing Catholics (representing 13 percent of all likely voters), Trump is up by more than 40 points, 69 percent to 28 percent.

But among those who aren’t practicing Catholics (representing 11 percent), Biden is ahead by 25 points, 60 percent to 35 percent.

It all likely explains the continued potency of abortion, which is an issue that largely hasn’t gotten the attention this cycle that other issues have.

Barr the door

Every time you think Trump’s Justice Department couldn’t get more brazen, you get news like this:

“The Justice Department filed court documents Tuesday seeking to represent President Donald Trump in a lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, who claimed he sexually assaulted her in the 1990s.”

More: “The Justice Department, which is supposed to act as an independent federal law enforcement agency, argued that under the Federal Tort Claims Act, or FTCA, its lawyers can usurp Trump's private legal team and change the venue from New York state court to U.S. District Court in Manhattan.”

Make no mistake: This is a tactic to — at the very least — delay the defamation lawsuit against Trump.

As Jeff Greenfield tweets, “Off hand, you might think that a President having taxpayers foot the bill for a case rooted in the charge that he sexually assaulted a woman decades ago might cause some political fallout. Trump and Barr are betting otherwise.”

Shameless plug: Pete Williams to interview Barr

Make sure to tune in to our own Pete Williams’ interview with Attorney General Bill Barr today.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

6,327,499: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 28,857 more than yesterday morning.)

190,851: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 477 more than yesterday morning.)

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

9 points: Joe Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania, according to a new NBC/Marist poll. (Trump won the state by less than a percentage point in 2016.)

Nearly 20 points: Biden’s advantage in the Pennsylvania suburbs, according to NBC/Marist. (Trump won Pennsylvania’s suburbs by about an 8-point margin in 2016, according to exit polling.)

More than 330,000: The number of acres consumed so far by a new round of wildfires in Washington state.

At least 1,210: The number of students and teachers in Florida who have been sent home to quarantine since schools reopened on August 10.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Trump blasts Harris

Campaigning in North Carolina last night, President Trump upped his attacks on the Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris: "Nobody likes her. She could never be the first woman president. She could never be. That would be an insult to our country."

On the campaign trail today: Joe Biden delivers remarks today in Warren, Mich.

Ad Watch from Ben Kamisar

Today’s Ad Watch is about when the enemy of your enemy is your friend — but only this one time.

The NRCC is up with a new spot in Nebraska's Second District that uses Joe Biden’s condemnation of Medicare for All during the Democratic presidential primary debate to attack Democrat Kara Eastman, who is running against Republican Rep. Don Bacon. In the spot, Biden calls Medicare for All “preposterous,” criticizing the cost of the plan and saying it would raise taxes.

The spot is an attempt to frame Eastman as outside the mainstream on an important issue in a red-leaning district. But it also runs counter to the narrative the Trump campaign is trying to create of Biden — that he’s taking his policy cues directly from the far left — in a congressional district that doles out its electoral vote separately from the state’s popular vote.

The Lid: Sunshine on my shoulders

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we broke down what you need to know about the latest NBC News/Marist poll of Florida.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

A coronavirus vaccine trial by AstraZeneca is on hold after a participant became ill.

Celebrities and progressive groups are leading a new virtual get-out-the-vote push.

The Trump campaign is footing the bill for sod replacement on the White House grounds after damage from the equipment and crowds for RNC events held there.

Trump says he may now cast his vote in person in Florida.

The Congressional Black Caucus is bracing for upheaval with an influx of progressive, younger lawmakers.