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Mara Liasson

When a party is in trouble, it often says the problem is the message not the product.

In the case of the Biden agenda, that's not completely spin. When the particulars of Biden's plans are described to voters, majorities approve.

But polls also show voters don't know much about what the Democrats are passing. This week, Biden tried to change that.

When it comes to the future of American democracy, Democrats are sounding the alarm loudly and often that the country is in a constitutional crisis.

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Last night was rough for Democrats.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED JOURNALIST #1: Democrats are waking up. This is a gut punch.

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If the Republicans take the House back in the 2022 midterm elections, they get to pick a speaker, and there's no requirement that the speaker has to be an elected representative.

"Can you just imagine Nancy Pelosi having to hand that gavel to Donald J. Trump?" mused Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a vocal Trump loyalist, when he spoke to a crowd in Iowa this summer. "She didn't like when that Jan. 6 guy was sitting in her chair in her office. She is sure not going to like seeing Donald Trump sitting in her chair."

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And we are going to hear now from NPR's Mara Liasson. She is joining us. Hang on one second. We're having a little bit of a computer problem here. Hey, Mara, you with me?

MARIA LIASSON, BYLINE: Yes, I'm here.

Updated June 10, 2021 at 5:03 PM ET

It's hard to make an intellectual argument in favor of the Electoral College. Most people feel that the person who gets the most votes should become president.

After all, that's how we run every other election in this country, says Jesse Wegman, the author of Let the People Pick the President.

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The American political tradition enshrines majority rule, with rights for the minority. But some wonder whether the United States is sliding toward minority rule.

More and more Democrats are saying the system is out of whack.

Twice in the last 20 years, their presidential candidate got more votes but lost the election. And now that the 2022 redistricting cycle is beginning, Republicans in many states will be able to get fewer votes but end up with a majority of seats.

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President Biden is getting close to the 100-day mark of his presidency. NPR's Mara Liasson has been asking what those days have revealed about him.

To a growing number of Democrats, the filibuster is a giant barrier to the things they want to accomplish. At the funeral last year for congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, former President Barack Obama listed some of them: ending partisan gerrymandering and making Election Day a national holiday, as well as statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

President Biden is continuing his victory lap this week after passing the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which addressed the most immediate crises Biden has faced coming into office: a pandemic still spreading and an economy still millions of jobs short of where it was a year ago.

Joe Biden ran on competence and experience, and he chose a chief of staff known for both: Ron Klain.

"We're seeing a functioning White House. Go figure," says Chris Whipple, who wrote The Gatekeepers, a book about White House chiefs of staff. "That's a tribute to Klain."

In the first 49 days of the administration, Klain has had a big win and also a notable loss, but he entered the role with broad experience and a good relationship with the president.

Taking the win

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Joe Biden's first full week as president has been a gusher of executive orders, some big legislative proposals — and a very different model of presidential leadership than his predecessor.

Traditionally, the first week is when new presidents set the tone. For Biden, that's all about taking down the temperature and trying for "unity." But unity means different things to different people.

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Joe Biden's first full week as president has been a gusher of executive orders, some big legislative proposals and a very different model of presidential leadership. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson reports.

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In a matter of hours on Jan. 6, the Republican Party went from shrugging off its loss of the White House to a party in crisis.

It was becoming clear just before the violent insurrection at the Capitol that the party had lost two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, making President Trump the first president since Herbert Hoover whose party lost the White House, the House and the Senate in one term. And plenty of Republicans blamed Trump for the Democrats' success in Georgia.

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And I want to bring in another voice - that of NPR's Mara Liasson, who was listening in, along with the rest of us, to that last conversation.

Hey, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi there.

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Democrats are trying to figure out what the voters were trying to tell them this year, because it was kind of confusing.

President-elect Joe Biden won the popular vote by 4.5 percentage points — a 7 million vote margin — and got 306 electoral votes, which President Trump once called "a massive landslide victory" when he got the same number in 2016.

But Biden had no coattails.

With another COVID-19 relief bill awaiting his signature or veto, what's President Trump's end game? A new Congress begins Jan. 3, a new president in 24 days, and millions of Americans are struggling.

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Progress on the COVID-19 relief bill, as a lame duck President Trump continues to spread falsehoods about the election amid the continuing COVID-19 crisis and now an alleged Russian cyberattack.

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Well, soon after the Electoral College vote ended with the final ballots cast in Hawaii, President-elect Biden spoke to the nation.

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In the two weeks since it became clear that President Trump lost the election to Joe Biden — a period bookended by befuddling press conferences from his longtime lawyer, Rudy Giuliani — the president has made it clear that he will spend his remaining days in the White House in the same way he spent much of his term in office: fighting.

In the hours before President Trump began to realize that he may not get to "Make America Great Again, Again," the former reality television star who stunned the world in 2016 with his improbable leap to the White House allowed for a moment of candor.

"You know, winning is easy. Losing is never easy. Not for me, it's not," Trump told reporters on Election Day, his voice hoarse from an unforgiving three-week marathon of rallies.

Now, the world is seeing just how difficult it is for a man who built his brand on winning to lose.

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