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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

This afternoon I was reading one of Newt Gingrich's mass emails (I know), in which he argues the case for Donald Trump's recent foreign policy speech. Trump is neither a "dove" nor a "hawk", Gingrich explains, but an "owl" who wants vast American military superiority but with a hard-nosed emphasis on diplomacy rather than intervention, which - wait for it! - is what Newt has been arguing for all along. Whatever, that's standard Gingrich. But in arguing that Trumpist foreign policy is actually a species of Realism and a new emphasis on 'putting America first', Gingrich is part of a line of argument which a number non-ridiculous people are now pushing.

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I never thought Democrats would be able to force Republicans to hold a vote on Judge Garland this year, at least not before the election. But from the beginning I suspected that their refusal to do so would likely cost them the Senate. Not that the public would or will necessarily rise up and toss out the Republicans over the Supreme Court, certainly not for Garland himself. But as I explained earlier, the refusal to do what really everyone understands is a basic job responsibility of Senators is potentially lethal politically for Republican senators in blue states who are only barely holding on in a presidential election year in any case. The key thing is that that this 'not doing your job' argument is most powerful with loosely politicized voters with minimal partisan attachments - precisely the people, the relatively few people, who are genuinely up for grabs in these kinds of elections.

But Trump's all but certain nomination adds an important new twist.

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There are numerous articles I've seen this morning talking about the emerging "gender war" in the 2016 general election, which now seems officially underway. 'Trump’s ‘woman’s card’ comment escalates the campaign’s gender wars', 'Trump escalates his gender war' are just a couple examples. There's plenty of misogyny in our society and our politics. Women face various campaign or perception hurdles men do not. Is this female candidate tough enough to be president? Is she too tough ("angry", "abrasive") and therefore not likable? Etc etc. But the simple fact is that if you are explicitly fighting a 'gender war' with a female candidate, you're already losing and probably losing badly, as Tierney Sneed's article this morning confirms in the polling numbers.

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Take a moment to read this piece by Tierney Sneed. It's a really good granular look at just where Trump starts with general election cycle with women voters. The topline numbers won't surprise you: Trump's doing terribly with women. But the internal breakdowns are more telling. He's being annihilated among single women who are always a mainstay of Democratic support. But he's also doing terribly with the groups of women Republicans rely on to win elections, especially white married women. Tierney has the details.

Here's a choice nugget buried down near the bottom of The Washington Post's piece on the Clinton v Trump battle's escalating 'gender wars.'

Bob Sutton, chairman of the Broward County GOP Executive Committee in Florida, voiced confidence that Clinton would be easy to defeat in a debate — with a comment not likely to endear him to some female voters.

“I think when Donald Trump debates Hillary Clinton she’s going to go down like Monica Lewinsky,” he said.

There are many things you could say about Donald Trump's foreign policy speech. At a minimum we can recognize that it is a restatement of Trump's foreign policy ideas stripped of references to Mexican rapists and other shocking asides. But here's the one thing I think is most salient.

Trump is proposing making aggressive new demands of virtually every country in the world - whether that's countries in Europe (who are part of NATO), China, Japan, Mexico, Russia or in less high profile ways virtually every other country in the world. This might make sense for Russia, perhaps China, maybe Europe. It can't make sense to do it with everyone at once.

And here is what is key.

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The hidden genius of the Cruz outta-the-box Carly as VP pick is that Fiorina is almost as widely reviled as Cruz himself and election and polling measures has very little political appeal to speak of at all.

And no what I just said makes no sense at all.

It's been a consistent feature of recent US presidential elections that they are less about persuasion than mobilization of relatively stable political coalitions. There is a thin segment of up-or-grab voters but it tends to be as little as five percent and seldom more than ten percent of electorate, and only those in a handful of swing states really drive the campaigns' attention. Because of this, the campaigns are largely talking past each; and that is by design.

But watching last night's victory speeches I realized that this general election is likely to take that model to an entirely new level.

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