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First Thoughts: 'Family Ties' vs. 'Modern Family'

Republicans as the party of “Family Ties” and Democrats as the party of “Modern Family”… As GOP leaders try to move the party on some social issues, the rank-and-file isn’t moving yet… The Gang of 16 GOP senators who voted against yesterday’s filibuster on guns… All the moving parts in the gun debate… Gang of Eight immigration proposal expected on Tuesday… Rubio to appear on “Meet the Press”… McConnell couldn’t have asked for a better outcome… And measuring the 2016ers in our NBC/WSJ poll.

*** “Family Ties” vs. “Modern Family”: If you want to know why Republicans are from Mars and Democrats are from Venus, or why Republicans are the “Family Ties” party and Democrats are the “Modern Family” party, just look at our NBC/WSJ poll. Fourteen years ago, back in 1999, the poll asked this question: What should be a more important goal for society -- promoting greater respect for traditional values, or encouraging greater tolerance? An overwhelming majority of Republicans (by 76%-16%), a majority of independents (54%-31%), and a plurality of Democrats (49%-41%) all picked traditional values. But when we asked that question again in our new NBC/WSJ poll, there was a significant change: Almost two-thirds of Democrats picked tolerance (64%-31%), and independents moved, too (narrowly siding with traditional values, 48%-43%). But the Republican percentage remained virtually the same from 1999 (77%-18%). This movement by Democrats and the non-movement by Republicans might very well represent the biggest difference between the two political parties, especially when it comes to social issues and values.

Democratic pollster Fred Yang and conservative pollster Bill McInturff join The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd for a "deep dive" look at the latest NBC and Wall Street Journal poll numbers and the cultural divides in America.

*** As GOP leaders try to move the party, rank-and-file isn’t moving: Our new NBC/WSJ poll numbers on gay marriage also highlight this movement-vs.-non-movement difference between the parties. Four years ago, back in 2009, 55% of Democrats, 37% of independents, and 22% of Republicans said they supported gay marriage. Now? These are the percentages: Democrats 73% (an 18-point increase), independents 54% (17 points), and 27% of Republicans (5 points). In fact, GOP opposition to gay marriage slightly increased, albeit within the margin of error, from our Dec. 2012 to our April 2013 poll. So politically, while Republican leaders are trying to move on social issues -- see the RNC report as it relates to gay rights, Bobby Jindal earlier on contraception, and even Paul Ryan last night saying that the GOP must find common ground on abortion rights -- the rank-and-file of the party isn’t ready to move. Just look at the resolution opposing same-sex marriage that the RNC is expected to consider today. Of course, the one BIG exception to this immigration reform.

*** The Gang of 16: Yesterday, by a 68-31 vote, a group of bipartisan senators defeated a GOP filibuster on the Democratic-backed gun-control measure, so now Senate debate begins on the legislation. Sixteen GOP senators voted against the filibuster, while two Democrats (Mark Begich and Mark Pryor, both up for re-election next year in red states) voted for it. But we want to focus on the 16 GOP senators for a second, because they tell a larger story beyond guns. Here are the 16 who voted for cloture: Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dean Heller (R-NV), John Hoeven (R-ND), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John McCain (R-AZ), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS). If you’re the White House, these are the universe of 16 GOP senators willing to work you – on the budget, immigration, and guns. Of course, there’s one VERY BIG exception: Marco Rubio, who’s working on the bipartisan immigration proposal, voted FOR the filibuster.  But for the most part, these 16 senators have been ones most open to going to a dinner with the president (in fact, we think all but three have been to a dinner with him already), and they all seem to playing a part in one of the compromise working groups, either immigration, the budget or guns. File away this list, you’ll need it quite a bit if you are covering Congress.

*** All the moving parts in the gun debate: There are several other moving parts in the debate over guns. As NBC’s Mike Viqueira reports, the next Senate vote will come on Tuesday, with a procedural vote (requiring 60 to pass) on the Manchin-Toomey compromise on background checks… In addition, per NBC’s Kasie Hunt, former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) will lobby senators who might be on the fence on the background checks. And today, her organization begins robo-calls thanking Sens. Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey for their work on background checks. (An example: “Hi, I'm Mark Kelly -- combat veteran, astronaut, and most importantly, husband to my brave wife Gabrielle Giffords. I'm calling to thank your senator, Pat Toomey, for working across party lines to sponsor critical legislation to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill by expanding background checks.”)… Also, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns is airing a new TV ad (featuring a Newtown, CT parent) urging passage of background checks.

*** Gang of Eight appears likely to unveil immigration proposal on Tuesday: Meanwhile, on the issue of immigration, NBC’s Carrie Dann and NBC Latino's Sandra Lilley report that Tuesday appears to be the day for the formal unveiling of comprehensive immigration reform from the Gang of Eight. (That said, aides add the caveat that the legislation must be reviewed before a final unveiling is ready.) It's not clear yet what form that presentation will take and how the legislative language will be available when it’s public. At this point, aides are down to the issue of drafting the legislation. Previously, big hang-ups required the lawmakers involved to hash them out personally; those are resolved and we’re at the staff level now. Meanwhile, the New York Times has a readout of some of the details of the bill, including a heavy focus on merit-based visas for both high- and low- skilled workers.

*** Rubio to appear on “Meet the Press”: Speaking of the Gang of Eight, one of its members -- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) -- will appear on “Meet the Press” this Sunday, along with Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). The expectation is that Rubio is, essentially, previewing what the Gang of Eight is going to propose.

*** McConnell couldn’t have asked for a better outcome: After yesterday’s developments in the Mitch McConnell/Ashley Judd/possible bugging story in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader McConnell couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. As one of us wrote yesterday, “A local liberal group has become the target of scrutiny in a probe into the surreptitious recording published earlier this week capturing a campaign strategy session with Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election team. A local Democratic Party official told NBC News Thursday that two members of the activist group Progress Kentucky claimed that they were responsible for a recording published this week on the website of the progressive magazine Mother Jones.” When McConnell originally accused Progress Kentucky on Wednesday, he had no evidence to back it up; in fact, his office later walked back the accusation. But now it appears that he could very well be correct. More importantly, the story has become all about process (who recorded it, how was it done?) and not about the substance (the McConnell camp’s tough talk about Ashley Judd). And it really does put the Democrats in a tougher position in this race, simply because as tough of a campaigner as McConnell is, he can claim he’s playing by the rules while his opponents are not.

*** Measuring the 2016ers: Finally, in our weekly look at the emerging 2016 presidential race, it’s worth noting that we have now measured seven different potential candidates in our NBC/WSJ poll since the 2012 election -- four Republicans (Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie), two Democrats (Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden), and one independent (Michael Bloomberg). Some of the findings, per NBC’s Sarah Blackwill: Ryan (with a 49-point net positive rating) narrowly leads Paul and Rubio among Republicans… Among conservatives, the order in personal popularity is the same: Ryan, Paul, Rubio, Christie trailing… And on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton crushes Biden among all subgroups… And for Bloomberg, he interestingly has better numbers among Democrats (36%-11%) than indies (22%-33%). So the big take away on the GOP side is this: Ryan is the closest thing to a “front-runner” the party has, because of his name I.D. as the party’s VP running-mate (something that should NOT be discounted). But don’t underestimate Rand Paul; he’s got ratings with INDIE voters that rival Christie while doing better with GOPers and conservatives than both Christie and Rubio. Paul’s had quite the 2013 “rollout” for someone who was treated with gadfly status just six months ago. Below are the breakdowns:

Hillary Clinton’s overall fav/unfav: 56%-29% (April ’13)
Men: 49%-32%
Women: 62%-25%
Democrats: 88%-5%
Indies: 46%-29%
GOP: 23%-56%
Liberals: 86%-5%
Obama voters: 89%-3%

Biden’s overall fav/unfav: 41%-37% (Jan ’13)
Men: 39%-41%
Women: 43%-34%
Dems: 70%-11%
Indies: 34%-34%
GOP: 10%-72%
Liberals: 70%-16%
Obama voters: 75%-8%

Paul Ryan: 30%-34% (Dec’ 12)
Men: 35%-33%
Women: 25%-36%
Dems: 7%-55%
Indies: 27%-21%
GOP: 62%-13%
Conservative: 58%-11%
Romney voters: 68%-5%

Marco Rubio: 28%-16% (April ’13)
Men: 34%-17%
Women: 22%-14%
Democrats 12%-26%
Indies: 27%-12%
GOP: 49%-6%
Conservatives: 45%-6%
Romney voters: 56%-5%

Rand Paul: 27%-23% (April ’13)
Men: 34%-20%
Women: 21%-25%
Democrats: 8%-39%
Indies: 32%-14%
GOP: 53%-6%
Conservatives: 47%-5%
Romney voters: 62%-4%

Chris Christie: 36%-12% (Feb ‘13)
Men: 38%-15%
Women: 34%-10%
Democrats: 36%-14%
Indies: 32%-17%
GOP: 39%-9%
Conservatives: 34%-12%
Romney voters: 41%-11%

Michael Bloomberg: 25%-26% (April ’13)
Men: 26%-34%
Women: 24%-19%
Dems: 36%-11%
Indies: 22%-33%
GOP: 15%-39%
Conservatives: 10%-43%
Liberals: 38%-12%
Moderates: 31%-18%
Obama voters: 39%-11%
Romney voters: 15%-46%

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