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Sununu's decision underscores how Trump has reshaped the GOP's battle for the Senate

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.
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WASHINGTON — New Hampshire’s Republican governor, Chris Sununu, said no to a Senate bid. So did the state’s former U.S. senator, Kelly Ayotte.

But look at who is running for Senate across the nation — or who might run.

Here’s Blake Masters, a GOP Senate candidate in Arizona: “I think Trump won in 2020,” he says in a campaign video.

Here’s Republican Sean Parnell, who’s running for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat: “Parnell’s estranged wife, Laurie Snell, with whom he shares three children, has accused him of multiple forms of abuse, including strangling her and hitting one of their children so hard he left a fingerprint-shaped welt on the child’s back,” the Washington Post writes of the candidate’s custody battle. Sean Parnell has denied the allegations.

And guess who’s also thinking about running for Pennsylvania’s Senate seat? Dr. Oz.

This is how Donald Trump — one year after losing office — has fundamentally changed the Republican Party by altering the kinds of candidates running for Congress and Senate.

Image: Chris Sununu
Chris Sununu announces that he is seeking a fourth term as governor of New Hampshire during a news conference, on Nov. 9, 2021, in Concord, N.H.Holly Ramer / AP

As our colleagues Sahil Kapur, Alex Seitz-Wald and Henry J. Gomez write, Republicans missing out on a Chris Sununu in New Hampshire, and maybe winding up with a Sean Parnell or Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, matters.

"Arguably, Republicans lost five seats between 2010 and 2012 because of bad general election candidates," said GOP strategist Brian Walsh, who worked at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2012 cycle. "I'm not saying that's necessarily going to happen here. We don't know that yet. But broadly, candidates matter."

But so does a political environment.

And as we saw in 2016, sometimes an environment — along with our polarized politics – can propel even a very flawed nominee to high office.

Sununu’s rationale

By the way, here’s Sununu’s rationale for deciding to run for re-election as New Hampshire governor instead of for the Senate.

“I’d rather push myself 120 miles per hour delivering wins for New Hampshire than to slow down, end up on Capitol Hill debating partisan politics without results,” he said, per the Washington Post.

And after Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., got death threats for voting for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, as well as after Rep. Paul Gosar’s, R-Ariz., incendiary video, does anyone blame him?

The environment on Capitol Hill isn’t one that would attract America’s best and brightest.

Tweet of the day

You’re just my type

Speaking of the political parties and their composition, there isn’t just one type of Democrat. Ditto a particular type of Republican. And there are several key issues that unite — and divide — individuals in each political party.

That’s the takeaway from the latest Pew Research Center “Political Typology” study, which categorizes Americans into nine different political types.

The different types of Democrats:

  • The Progressive Left (representing 6 precent of the public and 12 percent of the Democratic coalition, who are mainly white, non-Hispanic, have liberal views on almost every subject and who mainly backed Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 primaries. Avatar: Elizabeth Warren.
  • Establishment Liberals (13 percent of the public, 23 percent of the Democratic coalition), who are liberal but don’t believe in sweeping change. Avatar: Nancy Pelosi.
  • Democratic Mainstays (10 percent of the public, 28 percent of the Democratic coalition), who are the oldest, most diverse Democrats and who have more moderate views. Avatar: Jim Clyburn.
  • The Outsider Left (10 percent of the public, 16 percent of the Democratic coalition), who are mainly young, very liberal (especially on climate and race) and very frustrated with the political system. Avatar: Greta Thunberg.

The different types of Republicans:

  • Faith and Flag Conservatives (10 percent of the public, 23 percent of the GOP coalition), who are incredibly conservative on all matters. Avatar: Marjorie Taylor Greene.
  • Committed Conservatives (7 percent of the public, 15 percent of the GOP coalition), who are conservative but with a softer edge, especially on immigration. Avatar: Paul Ryan.
  • The Populist Right (11 percent of the public, 23 percent of the GOP coalition), who are mainly rural, less educated and oppose immigration and US corporations. Avatar: Edward Durr (the truck driver who just won office in New Jersey).
  • The Ambivalent Right (12 percent of the public, 18 percent of the GOP coalition), who are the youngest and least conservative Republicans, with majorities favoring abortion and legalized marijuana. Avatar: former GOP strategist Tim Miller.

And in the middle are Stressed Sideliners (15 percent of the public, 15 percent of the GOP coalition, 13 percent of the Democratic coalition), who have a mix of liberal and conservative views and are united in having minimal interest in politics.

Biden goes to Baltimore

President Biden begins his day at the White House meeting with the president of the European Commission, then attends former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s funeral in Delaware, and then he travels to the Port of Baltimore, where he’ll promote the bipartisan infrastructure deal.

Biden’s remarks in Baltimore are scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET.

Coinciding with Biden’s visit to Baltimore, the DNC has been displaying projection highlights touting the infrastructure bill the president will soon sign into law.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

13: The number of top Trump-era officials, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who a government watchdog says violated the Hatch Act.

2.5: How many degrees, in Celsius, that presenters at the COP26 summit warn the Earth is on track to warm this century.

46,712,705: 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 84,941 more since yesterday morning.)

760,894: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 1,731 more since yesterday morning.)

433,156,393: The number of total vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 1,044,533 more since yesterday morning.)

25,368,545: The number of booster vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 573,448 more since yesterday morning.)

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

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

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Jan. 6 committee has issued new subpoenas, including for Stephen Miller and Kayleigh McEnany.

A federal judge ruled against former President Trump as he tries to stop the National Archives from turning over records to the Jan. 6 committee.

Republicans are divided about whether they should be working with Democrats on deals like the bipartisan infrastructure bill, or if those who do should be punished.

Pfizer is applying for Covid-19 booster shots to be approved for everyone at least 18 years old.

The Black principal of a majority-white high school in Texas has been forced to resign amid controversy over critical race theory.