Trump is losing ground in America's suburbs

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: Jim Tangeman, left, a supporter of Donald Trump, debates a critic of the president at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair
Jim Tangeman, left, a supporter of Donald Trump, debates a critic of the president at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox during the Iowa State Fair Aug. 11, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

WASHINGTON — For all of the discussion about whether Democrats can win Texas in 2020, or whether they have solid chances to flip Senate seats in Arizona and Georgia, one demographic development has become crystal clear:

President Donald Trump is losing America’s suburbs.

In the six national NBC/Wall Street Journal polls conducted this year, Trump’s job rating has been underwater among suburban residents — with just one exception.

Jan. 2019

  • Urban: 28 percent approve, 69 percent disapprove (-41)
  • Suburban: 46 percent, 53 percent (-7)
  • Rural: 66 percent, 29 percent (+37)

Feb. 2019

  • Urban: 31 percent, 67 percent (-36)
  • Suburban: 49 percent, 50 percent (-1)
  • Rural: 60 percent, 36 percent (+24)

March 2019

  • Urban: 30 percent, 66 percent (-36)
  • Suburban: 44 percent, 52 percent (-8)
  • Rural: 65 percent, 31 percent (+34)

May 2019

  • Urban: 32 percent, 66 percent (-34)
  • Suburban: 52 percent, 46 percent (+6)
  • Rural: 55 percent, 43 percent (+12)

June 2019

  • Urban: 35 percent, 62 percent (-27)
  • Suburban: 45 percent, 53 percent (-8)
  • Rural: 59 percent, 38 percent (+21)

July 2019

  • Urban: 33 percent, 65 percent (-32)
  • Suburban: 47 percent, 50 percent (-3)
  • Rural: 62 percent, 34 percent (+28)

One other set of numbers: Per the 2018 national House exit poll, 51 percent of all voters were suburban residents, and they broke evenly for Democratic and Republican candidates, 49 percent to 49 percent.

And what do Arizona, Georgia and Texas have in common?

They have lots of suburban voters — either outside one major metropolitan area (in the cases of Arizona and Georgia), or outside multiple major cities (regarding Texas).

The question Democratic primary voters need to ponder: Which of their 20-some candidates is best able to win these suburbs?

Data Download: The number of the day is … eight

Eight.

That's the number of House seats currently in play in Texas — at least.

That comes after the retirements of four Republican House members there and as the party grapples with hemorrhaging support in the suburbs.

GOP divided over gun restrictions

Speaking of Trump’s problem in the suburbs, note how GOP senators from rural states have reacted to “red flag” laws on gun purchases:

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Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.: "I have a lot of concerns about the due-process component.”

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.: “Knee-jerk reactions and more gun laws are not the solution.”

Versus to how GOP senators from big states have reacted:

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.: “[W]e must not allow people who threaten harm to themselves or others to have guns.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.: “My focus is on keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have guns.”

We’re doubtful of Congress’ ability to pass any new gun laws – the tried-and-true playbook is simply to wait out coverage of a shooting tragedy.

Still, this GOP divide is something to watch.

2020 Vision: Harris says it’s time to build a new house on health care

On “Meet the Press,” here was Kamala Harris talking health care:

Chuck Todd: "You want to do a new system and over a 10-year period."

Harris: "Yes.:"

Todd: "There're a lot of people who've said, 'We're in the middle of still trying to build the last system. The last system hasn't been fully implemented. Medicaid is not in all 50 states.' Why do a new system before you find out if this one doesn’t — this one won't work?"

Harris: "What President Obama accomplished was historic. Many presidents before him attempted to reform America's health care system and failed. He accomplished it with the Affordable Care Act. He has also said — he has used a term "starter house." That it was a good beginning."

[snip]

Todd: "Well, there's building on and there's buying a new house. And I say this if we're going to use the house analogy. I guess the question is, is your plan ..."

Harris: "As your family grows, you probably need a bigger house."

On the campaign trail today

Kamala Harris stumps in Iowa, hitting Burlington, Muscatine and Davenport… Bernie Sanders holds town halls in Wolfeboro and North Conway, N.H… And Cory Booker raises money in New York.

Dispatches from NBC’s embeds

Many candidates finished their Iowa swings at the state fair over the past weekend, and NBC’s Julia Jester, Micki Fahner and Priscilla Thompson report the fun day Sen. Michael Bennet had.

“He ordered a corn dog, played a game of bumper cars, and rode a face down flying ride. He stopped by the state Democratic Party booth where, notably, Bennet was not included on the caricature poster of 20 candidates they’ve been signing. He later flipped pork chops with his daughter and the Iowa Pork Queen.”

In Orient, Iowa, Sen. Bernie Sanders was asked about the media’s coverage of him in a town hall. NBC’s Gary Grumbach reports what Sanders said he was concerned about, “What we have to be concerned about in terms of media is you have a small number of very, very large corporate interests who control a lot of what the people in this country see hear and read. They have their agenda. So what we are trying to do in our campaign is and I hope people to go our social media we have an active social media.”

Tweet of the Day

The Lid: The state of play in Iowa

Don't miss the pod from Friday, when we looked at the state of play in Iowa with six months to go.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

Evangelical are chafing at Trump's use of profanity.

The New York City medical examiner's office says it needs more information after an autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein's body.

Dems are ripping Trump for repeating conspiracy theories about Epstein's death.

The New York Times dives into how the language of "invasion" and a "flood" of immigrants got so ubiquitous in conservative media.

And Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson examines the persuasion vs. turnout debate.

Trump Agenda: The R-word

The president, who's always been conscious of his brand, is vexed that the label of "racism" has become attached to it.

The Washington Post looks at how Americans are struggling to talk about guns and race.

2020: Warren turns heads in Iowa

The AP reports on Elizabeth Warren's successful Iowa swing.

The House Democrats to watch in 2020 aren't just the "squad" — it's moderates fighting for re-election.

Beto O'Rourke says that Trump's El Paso visit shows that he's "sick" and "unfit for the presidency."

Pete Buttigieg is continuing to staff up.

In a New York Times op-ed, Joe Biden writes that "banning assault weapons works."