The Democratic Party is still Barack Obama's party

Image: Barack Obama
President Barack Obama waves to reporters after returning to the White House on Sept. 3, 2015. Copyright Chip Somodevilla Getty Images file
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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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.


WASHINGTON — If you spend enough time on Twitter or read enough opinion columns from the left, you might get the impression that Democrats and progressives have grown dissatisfied with Barack Obama and his presidency.

But that impression distorts the actual reality.

In the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, a whopping 78 percent of Democratic primary voters said they were satisfied that Obama's presidency did as much as was possible at the time in addressing the issues facing the country.

That's compared with 20 percent who said they were NOT satisfied, because more should have been done.

Even among self-described liberal Democrats in the poll, the numbers are essentially the same — 79 percent satisfied, 20 percent dissatisfied.

What's more, Obama's fav/unfav rating among all Democratic primary voters in the poll is 90 percent positive, 4 percent negative.

So you now know why 2020 Democrats have gone out of their way at the debates to praise Obama like Elizabeth Warren did last week — or get criticized when they don't.

This isn't to say that Democratic primary voters want their presidential nominee to pursue Obama's same policies.

A poll from Fox News yesterday found 43 percent of Dem voters wanting a candidate who will build on Obama's legacy, versus 49 percent who want a new and different approach.

But if you believe that Democratic voters don't like Obama, or don't look back fondly at his presidency, you're greatly mistaken.

And that's going to be one of the central dynamics at play in the 2020 Democratic race - just like it was in 2016.

By the way, here's the Democratic horserace in the NBC/WSJ poll among those satisfied with Obama's presidency: Joe Biden 33 percent, Warren 25 percent, Bernie Sanders 13 percent.

And here's the horserace among those dissatisfied with Obama: Warren 27 percent, Biden 19 percent, Sanders 18 percent.

The political consequences of U.S. action against Iran

As tensions and violence rise in the Middle East, it's worth mapping out the political consequences if the United States and President Trump take action against Iran.

An international crisis could very well help Joe Biden in the Democratic race, elevating foreign policy and experience (subjects that have received little attention so far).

Yet Trump NOT taking action could subject him to criticism within his own party.

Remember, Trump's foreign-policy instincts — especially as it relates to war in the Middle East - put him at odds with much of the interventionist wing of the Republican Party.

Whistleblower complaint involves president's phone call with a foreign leader

Here's the story that has everyone in Washington talking today:


"A whistleblower complaint by an intelligence officer that the Trump administration is withholding from Congress involves a phone conversation had by the president, a former U.S. intelligence official familiar with the matter confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday night," NBC's Ken Dilanian writes.

More: "The Washington Post, citing two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter, first reported that the complaint was by an intelligence official troubled by a promise Trump made during communication and interaction with a foreign leader."

"The fact that the complaint had been filed by an intelligence official was known, but the subject had been a closely guarded secret."

2020 Vision: A slightly different Dem horserace

A Fox News poll released Wednesday shows a slightly different Democratic race than our NBC/WSJ poll from Tuesday did. The numbers:

  • Biden: 29 percent (-2 since August)
  • Sanders: 18 percent ( 8)
  • Warren: 16 percent (-4)
  • Harris: 7 percent (-1)
  • Buttigieg: 5 percent ( 2)
  • O'Rourke: 4 percent ( 2)
  • Booker: 3 percent (even)
  • Yang: 2 percent (-1)
  • Klobuchar: 2 percent (even)

In hypothetical head-to-head matchups, Biden leads Trump by 14 points (52 percent to 38 percent); Sanders is up by 8 points (48 percent to 40 percent); Warren is ahead by 6 points (46 percent to 40 percent); and Harris is up 2 points (42 percent to 40 percent).


On the campaign trail today

Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Andrew Yang, Michael Bennet, Tim Ryan, John Delaney and Marianne Williamson all participate in the MSNBC climate change forum at Georgetown University… Kamala Harris campaigns in Iowa… Elizabeth Warren, also in the Hawkeye State, holds a town hall in Iowa City… Sanders later heads to North Carolina… Beto O'Rourke remains in California before leaving for Colorado… And Amy Klobuchar hits Michigan and Wisconsin.

Dispatches from NBC's embeds

Amy Klobuchar finished up the first day of her "Blue Wall Tour" in Pittsburgh, where she discussed the states a Democrat "must win" in 2020.

NBC's Amanda Golden reports on Klobuchar's comments: "All the candidates spent a lot of time in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and then into the Super Tuesday states. But the reason I am doing this Blue Wall Tour, this means the blue wall of the states that we must win, is the states that we better keep visiting time and time again - and not just going to the easy areas, not just going to the blue areas, but going to the purple and red areas and going not just where it's comfortable but where it's uncomfortable - are the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania."

Data Download: And the number of the day is … 16 points

Sixteen points.

That's Joe Biden's lead over Elizabeth Warren in a HEAD-TO-HEAD race among Democratic primary voters, according to a new FOX News poll.


Asked who they would support if Biden and Warren were the ONLY choices in the Democratic primary, 53 percent chose Biden, while 37 percent chose Warren.

Tweet of the day

The Lid: Runnin' down a dream

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we took a second look at some of the horserace numbers from our latest NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

John Bolton slammed Trump's foreign policy in a closed-door speech.

It's official: Joe Kennedy will primary Ed Markey.

The Pentagon says that visits to Trump's Scotland hotel cost nearly $200,000 between 2017 and 2019.


Justin Trudeau is apologizing after a photo surfaced of him wearing "brownface" in 2001.

And be sure not to miss NBC's Andrea Mitchell's conversation with NPR's Terry Gross on journalism and asking tough questions.

TRUMP AGENDA: Fourth time's the charm?

Trump has named a new national security adviser.

Attorney General William Barr once praised a book that claims colleges were unfair to male students accused of sexual assault.

How did Trump react to Benjamin Netanyahu's failure to win a clear majority in Tuesday's elections? "Our relations are with Israel, so we'll see what happens."


Trump is still feuding with the state of California.

Mike Pencehas a new press secretary.

2020: "Medicare for All Who Want It"

Pete Buttigieg is out with his new health care plan, which he calls a "glide path" to Medicare for All.

POLITICO reports that Kamala Harris is going to bet it all on Iowa.

Beto O'Rourke is calling for the federal legalization of marijuana.


The Sanders campaign wants to crack down on leaks.

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