IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump's rough day hints at limits of his power over GOP

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: Former President Donald Trump at the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021 in Phoenix.
Former President Donald Trump at the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021 in Phoenix.Brandon Bell / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — For someone his political party still can’t quit, Donald Trump sure had a rough day on Tuesday.

The House’s Jan. 6 committee heard testimony from the Capitol police who fought with rioters on that day, with excommunicated Republican Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Il., taking starring roles on the committee.

Notably, Trump didn’t comment on yesterday’s testimony (but he did fire off statements on masks, crime and the Ohio-15 special election).

Then Trump’s endorsed candidate in Texas' 6th Congressional District — Republican Susan Wright — lost to fellow Republican Jake Ellzey, demonstrating the limits to a Trump endorsement, even in a low-turnout runoff. (George P. Bush, you can breathe a sigh of relief.)

And as of publication time, Trump hadn’t commented on that setback, either.

Since Trump left office and especially after Jan. 6, Republican leaders have tried different ways to deal with the former president.

They’ve appeased him, traveling to Mar a Lago or Bedminster to break bread with him. They’ve tried to sidestep questions about him. And they’ve warned about what might happen to the party if they lose Trump’s base of voters.

But they’ve never to tried to marginalize a former president who, it turns out, doesn’t have as much power as they think he does.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

53.3 percent: The share of the vote Republican Jake Ellzey got in yesterday’s Texas runoff.

46.7 percent: The share fellow Republican Susan Wright got.

Over 300 percent: The increase in U.S. Covid cases nationally since June 19th, per the CDC director.

3,177: Tokyo’s number of new, daily cases on Wednesday, the second-straight day the city set its record for highest daily cases.

17 percentile points: The decline in math achievement for Latino third graders in the spring of 2021 compared to 2019, according to a new report. Students in other minority groups also saw outsized declines in achievement during the pandemic.

24 percent: The share of white evangelicals who say they won’t be vaccinated for Covid as a new study shows higher rates of vaccine resistance among evangelical Christians.

342,607,540: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S., per the CDC. (That’s 395,489 since yesterday morning.)

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

60.1 percent: The share of all American adults at least 18 years of age who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

Tweet of the day

What the NBC/WSJ poll got wrong in 2020 — and what we are doing to fix it

Political polls of all stripes swung and missed in the 2020 presidential election.

In fact, according to a recent American Association for Public Opinion Research report, the cumulative error was the largest in 40 years.

That includes the performance of our national NBC News/Wall Street Journal, which showed Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 10 points in the final survey before the election, when Biden’s eventual popular-vote victory over Donald Trump was 4.5 points, 51.3 percent to 46.8 percent.

In the months after the election, the bipartisan team of pollsters who conduct the national NBC News poll — the Wall Street Journal is no longer a partner — evaluated the poll and its 10,000 interviews in all of 2020 compared with actual voters from states’ voter files.

Some of the findings from the analysis:

  • The actual electorate was whiter and older than our poll showed: In our October merged surveys, 18 percent of voters were 65+ (when actual senior voters were 26 percent, per the modeled voter file), and 72 percent were white-non Hispanic (when they were actually 74 percent).
  • The poll overstated Biden’s support among seniors: One reason why is because of the percentage of Black seniors (versus white seniors) was higher than it turned out to be.
  • The poll overstated Biden’s support in urban areas (and also slightly in rural areas) compared with the actual results: "Our analysis of county-based data shows our over-estimation of Biden's margin over Trump was primarily concentrated in urban areas across geographies," the pollsters said.
  • The poll was slightly too Dem-leaning: The modeled party score from our voter file (D+9) and our October surveys (D+8) was more Democratic than the actual 2020 voters turned out to be (D+5).

The NBC pollsters found other complicating factors, including declining poll participation rates, the coronavirus pandemic (blue-collar voters made up 19 percent of registered voters for the poll in 2019 and 20 percent in the Jan. 2020 survey, but they were 17 percent for the rest of 2020), and Trump’s unique role (Biden was +10 on the ballot, but it was D+5 in congressional preference).

Going forward, here are the changes the pollsters are making:

  • They are adjusting samples to be slightly older and keep white non-Hispanics above 70 percent of registered voters.
  • They are incorporating additional quotas by age and ethnicity, and will use a geography-based sampling frame based on size and county type.
  • They will ask undecided voters again for a final preference between the Republican or Democratic candidate if forced to make a decision today.
  • And they will closely track the percentage of blue-collar workers in our surveys.

McAuliffe seizes on Youngkin’s comments on “election integrity”

With GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin set to appear at an upcoming “election integrity” rally, Democrat Terry McAuliffe is up with a new TV ad reminding Virginia voters about Youngkin’s past comments on the issue.

"Our election integrity task force was launched week one,” the ad has Youngkin saying. “This is the most important issue we're going to talk about," the Republican adds.

Then the McAuiffe ad’s narrator follows: "For Youngkin, the most important issue isn't jobs — it's repeating Donald Trump's lies."

Youngkin’s campaign responded to the ad: “Terry McAuliffe opposes requiring a photo ID to vote, which undermines the integrity of our elections and makes it easier to cheat. Glenn Youngkin will restore Virginia’s photo ID law and make sure it is easy for every eligible person to vote and harder to cheat.”

More from the Youngkin campaign: “As an American, Glenn Youngkin is absolutely right that in order for Virginia to do well economically, the foundations of our country must be strong, including confidence in the integrity of our elections and Americans’ willingness to accept the results of our democratic process.”

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new masking guidance recommending that all people where masks indoors if Covid is spreading rapidly in the community, and that all kids wear masks in schools.

The Washington Post reports the White House will require vaccinations for federal employees unless they want to be repeatedly tested for Covid.

The Justice Department says Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., was not acting in an official capacity when speaking at the rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, a finding that means Brooks won’t be let off the hook in a lawsuit against him.

Many House Republicans say they weren’t able to catch yesterday’s Jan. 6 committee hearing.

Simone Biles will miss individual all-around final at Tokyo Olympics to focus on her mental health.

There are higher rates of Covid-vaccine resistance among evangelical Christians than other religious groups, a new study shows.