In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Betsy McCaughey's addition to Donald Trump's council of economic advisors seems fitting: Both are conspiracy theory-floating sensationalists who have what you might describe as a hostile relationship with the truth.

Trump announced that McCaughey, along with seven other women, was joining his economic team Thursday after critics noted the council was made up entirely of men, only one Ph.D.-holding economist and four Steves among them, upon its initial rollout.

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Donald Trump was a "bigot who's clearly unfit for office" Thursday during a press call with reporters where he once again called on Republicans to confirm Supreme Court Justice nominee Merrick Garland.

Reid charged that if Republican senators were looking for a way to distance themselves from Trump, confirming Garland—which they have refused to do for months—is a good option.

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Donald Trump’s remark Tuesday that “the Second Amendment people” might take out a President Hillary Clinton to stop her from appointing liberal Supreme Court justices fits a now-familiar pattern: Trump takes an idea that has been simmering at the fringes of the hard right and shouts it from his platform as the GOP presidential nominee.

His campaign disputed the interpretation that the remark, delivered in Trump’s typical off-the-cuff style, was some sort of call-to-arms or that it alluded to assassination. But scholars who study gun rhetoric in political discourse, as well as gun safety advocates at the front lines of the gun control debate, placed his comment in the context of a long lineage of language pitting gun holders as the last defense against a tyrannical government.

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Donald Trump's got a big problem with the electoral map.

As the Republican presidential nominee barrels and blusters toward the November election, his poll numbers slipping after his attacks on a Gold Star family and amid growing dismay and defections from members of his own party, states that once looked promising for the novice candidate are falling out of his grasp.

In interviews with a dozen electoral map experts, TPM found there is an illuminating consensus that Donald Trump's path to victory is exceedingly narrow with less than three months to go until Election Day.

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A new study suggests that low-income people living in states with Obamacare's Medicaid expansion are healthier than those in states without it, the New York Times reported. The study's authors — who published their results in JAMA Internal Medicine Monday — were hesitant to say that Medicaid expansion prompted the results, the Times said, but the low-income people surveyed in expansion states Kentucky and Arkansas reported feeling healthier than those in Texas, a non-expansion state. The study comes as another report released Monday by the Urban Institute estimated that for every $1 state spends on its Medicaid expansion program, it brings in $7 to $8 in federal spending.

Currently, 19 states have refused to expand Medicaid.

The health survey found that respondents in Kentucky and Arkansas were, by nearly 5 percentage points, more likely to report being in excellent health than those in Texas. They were also less likely to skip taking medication due to costs, less likely to visit the emergency room and more likely to have access to primary care.

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Donald Trump’s delegitimizing attacks against Hillary Clinton may not help him win the White House, but they could lay a foundation for Republicans in 2017 and beyond to obstruct her agenda if she is elected.

Trump is borrowing a page from a Republican playbook, after all, that dates back to allegations against President Bill Clinton and, of course, claims that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and actually is Muslim. But while his tactics set the stage for a repeat of the Obama era of knee-jerk obstruction, Trump goes far beyond even birtherism, which he played a large part in stoking during the 2012 election cycle, when he suggests that a hypothetical victory for Clinton in November could only be the result of a fraudulent election.

"Much more alarming is the language about the election rigged," Theda Skocpol, a professor of government and sociology at Harvard University, told TPM.

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It was supposed to be a blockbuster year for Democrats as they marched to retake the Senate, but the Democrats' are finding their job a little tougher than first expected.

In Florida, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) has faced attacks for embellishing his resume and then, making matters worse, the incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) jumped back in the race. In Ohio, former Gov. Ted Strickland has struggled to make up a fundraising gap against incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and in Pennsylvania, Democrats ended up spending valuable resources –more than $1 million– boosting Katie McGinty in a primary against former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

If Democrats are having a harder time than expected in a few marquee races in 2016, none of it may matter in the time of Donald Trump.

This week, polls showed the Republican presidential candidate's campaign in free fall –high single-digit and sometimes double-digit deficits– that even the strongest senatorial candidates likely won't be able to weather.

In Pennsylvania, a Franklin and Marshall College poll found Clinton had an 11 point lead. In Florida, a Suffolk University poll found Clinton was up 6 points in a head-to-head match-up with Trump. In New Hampshire –where Democrats recruited a popular two-term sitting governor to run for the Senate– Clinton was up 15 points against Trump.

Those are margins that get very difficult for Republican senators to outrun, experts say.

"You cannot just withstand a blowout," said Rob Jesmer, a former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "I could see a scenario where we lose the White House and hold the Senate, but if Trump is just getting destroyed even if our guys can outperform the ballot at three to four or even five points, it is very problematic."

Democrats need five states to win the Senate majority back in November and four to tie it. They are most bullish on states like Wisconsin and Illinois, which seem to be trending blue. Their next best hope seems to be in New Hampshire and in Indiana, where the last-minute recruiting of Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) could be enough to bring Democrats to a tie in the Senate. If Clinton wins the White House, four seats will be enough to give them the majority on tie votes.

From there, however, the road to the majority relies heavily on hard races against incumbents in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania where the saving grace for Democrats may be that the presidential campaign will dominate the airwaves.

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Like he has done on many other issues, Donald Trump is fumbling and overplaying the typical GOP talking points on the supposed threat of voter fraud. But that hasn’t stopped the voting rights community from worrying that he might be further fueling the arguments used to justify voting restrictions pushed by Republican lawmakers across the country, even if Trump is speaking with only himself in mind.

“The whole aura of illegitimacy he is casting on the election in general ... he is feeding an already very hungry beast here with these kinds of accusations,” Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford Law professor who served on the Presidential Commission on Election Administration in 2012, told TPM.

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When Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) was facing an onslaught of outside spending in her member vs. member congressional primary in June, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was one of the only politicians in the GOP who swooped in to try to save her.

He recorded a robocall for Ellmers, who had been one of his earliest congressional supporters. It didn't work. Ellmers lost, but as the three-term incumbent watches Trump's campaign weather a near implosion, she says she's still not ready to give up on him.

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Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly said that North Carolina's motion had been filed with the Supreme Court. It had been filed to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

North Carolina is asking the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to halt its ruling striking down the state's voter ID law, and other voting restrictions the state passed in 2013. The state filed a motion for a stay with the appeals court Wednesday, asking the court to block implementation of the ruling while North Carolina readies a petition for the Supreme Court to hear the full case.

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