Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I'm excited to announce the debut of our 2016 TPM Electoral Scoreboard. In 2012 the Scoreboard was our most popular tool of the entire election season. The Senate Scoreboard will debut soon. (Click on the image below to go to the Scoreboard page.)

The Scoreboard runs off polling data from PollTracker. And unlike many other predictive maps it runs purely on poll data. It debuts today with Clinton at 271 electoral votes, Trump with 179 and 88 in the Toss-up category.

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I'd like to take a moment to pull together a series of recent threads on Donald Trump. We've now seen another episode of Donald Trump's impulsive and self-destructive behavior play out in his fight with the Khan family. There was a less noted moment where he apparently didn't realize that Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula two years ago and has been operating in eastern mainland Ukraine ever since. This brings me back to my early posts drawing concern to Trump's mix of policy friendliness and financial ties with Russia and especially persons in the orbit of Vladimir Putin. They all flow together in ways that may not at first be clear.

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We now have what I believe at least is our first major Republican elected official saying he will vote for Hillary Clinton. Rep Richard Hanna of New York. "I think Trump is a national embarrassment. Is he really the guy you want to have the nuclear codes?" he said in an interview with the local paper.

Candidly, that's what you do if you're really 'Never Trump.' This is what I was getting at - or rather what I think Obama was getting at - in my write up on President Obama's speech last week at the DNC. The country's sense of itself is built on a string of mythic national moments. The McCarthy Era, Watergate. If we're lucky and Trump is defeated, I believe people will quickly come to look back on it as a McCarthy-era-like near miss. People will be asking, which side were you on? What did you do? Did you stand up?

In an interview today with a local ABC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, Donald Trump suggested that what angered critic Khizr Khan was Trump's aggressive efforts to prevent terrorists from entering the country.

"It's a very big subject for me, border security is very big. When you have radical Islamic terrorists probably all over the place, we’re allowing them to come in by the thousands and thousands. And I think that’s what bothered Mr. Khan more than anything else. And, you know, I’m not going to change my views on that. We have radical Islamic terrorists coming in that have to be stopped. We’re taking them in by the thousands.”

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It may not seem terribly important right now with all the stories roiling the campaign. But I think there's a good chance it's the most important. Over the last 48 hours Trump's allies, surrogates and now Trump himself have forcibly injected the topic of voter fraud or 'election rigging' into the election. Longtime TPM Readers know this topic has probably been the publication's single greatest and most consistent focus over fifteen years. The subject has been investigated countless times. And it is clear that voter fraud and especially voter impersonation fraud is extremely rare - rare almost to the point of non-existence, though there have been a handful of isolated cases.

Vote fraud is clearly the aim in what is coming from Trump allies. But Trump's own comment - "I'm afraid the election's gonna be rigged, I have to be honest" - seems to suggest some broader effort to manufacture votes or falsify numbers, to allude to some broader conspiracy. Regardless, Trump is now pressing this issue to lay the groundwork to discredit and quite possibly resist the outcome of the November election.

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We now have a reasonable number of polls out after the Democratic convention to get some sense of a convention bounce. Here's the trend chart for July, with the dates of the conventions superimposed over the chart. I marked the 'start' of each day. So they may little a narrower than they should be. But you get the idea.

For the full national horserace chart and data set click here.

As I said earlier, bounces often fade. But not always. Often they create a new baseline that drives the fall campaign. In any case, we'll need to wait about a week longer until we have a solid idea where we are as the fall campaign begins.

We're seeing more and more Republican officeholders saying nice things about the Khans. That's great. But with a minuscule exception, they all continue to say Donald Trump should be the next President of the United States. As President Obama suggested in his convention speech, we're at one of those critical moments of choosing as a country. The Ryans and McConnells and Blunts and all the rest amount to a "Yes-But" caucus. Yes, we need to honor and respect the families of those who've made the ultimate but we still want Donald Trump to be the next President.

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There are smart terrible people and dumb terrible people. While they're both dangerous in positions of power, the dangers they represent are significantly different. We've been watching the now multi-day war between Donald Trump and the Khan family. Trump has managed the amazing feat of finding himself savaging the mother of a dead American soldier who literally had never said a word against him. What is most important about understanding what is happening here, however, is not the callousness or shamelessness of Trump's behavior. It is that it all could have been so easily avoided - not the damage to the Khan family but the damage to Trump himself. This may seem like a perverse way of looking at what has unfolded. But it's actually the most instructive for understanding Trump's actions, how his mind works and the sort of danger he represents.

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