In it, but not of it. TPM DC

There's been a significant drop in the number of Republican women running for Congress this cycle compared to 2012.

According to findings by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, 74 Republican women, including 17 incumbents, are likely to run or are running for seats in the House this cycle. By comparison, 108 ran for Congress in 2012. The number has remained the same in the Senate, though, with 16 women running both this cycle and in 2012. The findings are regularly updated after each primary election.

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Skeptics of the legal challenge to Obamacare's birth control mandate warn that a ruling against it could declare open season on virtually any law that a person or business can mount a religious-based objection to. If Hobby Lobby can be exempt because of its owners' Christian beliefs, Justice Elena Kagan wondered, what legal principle would stop other corporations from seeking religious-based exemptions from minimum wage or sex discrimination laws?

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The thinking is so ingrained now that it seems superfluous to point it out: Republicans are convinced that Obamacare's unpopularity will propel them to midterm victories in November, enough to take back control of the Senate and therefore Congress. Simple as that.

“I don’t think there’s any serious observer that believes Democrats can take the House, and the Senate is slipping away from them,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said last week. “That’s because Americans are hurting from this law.”

But a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation might bring the GOP's certainty into question: 53 percent of Americans, including 51 percent of independents, say they're tired of debating Obamacare and think that the country should focus on other issues.

Even among Republicans, the numbers are almost evenly split: 47 percent are tired of the debate, while 49 percent think it should continue.

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Updated: March 26, 2014, 10:46 AM

When House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-NC), the leading candidate in the GOP primary to face Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), released the names of the women serving as co-chairs of his Women for Tillis Coalition one name stuck out: Dr. Mary Susan Fulghum.

The Tillis campaign listed Fulghum as a "retired OB-GYN who is very active in the Raleigh community." The campaign noted that Fulghum serves on a number of boards and committees and graduated from the University of North Carolina.

There was, however, no mention of Fulghum's involvement in Planned Parenthood. Fulghum, in fact, happens to be one of the principle founders of the Planned Parenthood Health Systems headquarters in Raleigh, which was first started in 1980. She's listed as a principal founder on Planned Parenthood's website today.

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Obamacare's open enrollment ends next week. Soon after, the Obama administration will announce how many people -- with a few caveats -- signed up for private health coverage through the law for 2014.

At that point, the evaluation will truly begin. Some on the right will inevitably observe that the law fell well short of the original Congressional Budget Office projection of 7 million enrollees. Others on the left will likely counter that it still hit (or came close) to the revised 6 million projection that CBO made after the disastrous launch of HealthCare.gov. Charles Gaba, who has been tracking the enrollment process, anticipates 6.2 million enrollments.

None of that really matters. Health policy experts and insurance companies themselves agree that the raw number of enrollees isn't really significant when the difference is 6 million versus 7 million. If nobody had signed up, that would have been a problem. But that didn't happen.

The real data for measuring Obamacare's success aren't in yet, but they eventually will be. At the top of the list: What happens with premiums in 2015? Plus: Do insurance companies leave the market or enter it? And the ultimate barometer: Has the number of uninsured Americans dropped significantly?

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Updated: March 25, 2014, 8:22 PM

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) campaign on Tuesday pulled a web ad that featured college basketball players out of concerns that it may have violated National Collegiate Athletic Association rules.

"We figured we had shot ourselves in the foot enough for one day, so we took the the web video down as soon as a fair use questions popped up to avoid any misunderstandings," McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton told TPM in an email on Tuesday.

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The North Carolina Senate race -- a prime pickup opportunity for Republicans -- has shaped up to be a bit messier than it probably should be.

With a little more than a month before the Senate primary, the GOP still lacks a de facto nominee. There's a social conservative favorite, Rev. Mark Harris; a Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)-backed candidate, Dr. Greg Brannon; and a GOP-backed establishment candidate who's supposed to have locked up the whole thing by now, State House Speaker Thom Tillis, among others. Most observers say Tillis is the frontrunner, but he's far from a lock on the nomination and there's a chance he could be pushed to a runoff.

"I don't think there's any question that the person who is best positioned to defeat Kay Hagan is Thom Tillis," North Carolina-based Republican strategist Brian Nick told TPM. "And he's the best candidate in the Republican field and the Democrats are certainly cheering on someone else to possibly pull off an upset."

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