Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

All your polling questions answered!

If you missed it, Episode #4 of my new podcast is out. In this episode I talk to Professor Charles Franklin, one of the country's preeminent polling experts about un-skewing, phone v online polls, how not to make yourself get stupid and more. Check it out.

After what seems like a clear inflection point around the time of the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton is edging up toward 50% for the first time in the race. The PollTracker Average currently puts Clinton at 49.2% compared to Trump's 42.9% - a 6.3 percentage point lead. This is with three new polls out this morning.

Trend chart after the jump.

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Through all the swings and vicissitudes of this campaign and the often fairly dramatic shifts in the polls there have been a number of persistent patterns that have held my attention. One of those is what I've referred to as the 'Clinton Wall', the fact that while the margin separating the two candidates has swung wildly, Trump has never been able to move into a lead over Clinton. He keeps running at that wall. But he bounces off each time. Another pattern is the shifting electoral map itself. Clinton has had much more persistent and more robust leads in a series of states that weren't even considered swing states a decade ago, even as she's struggled (at least in relative terms) in some fairly reliable blue states.

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This story has been known in its outlines for many years. But with this weekend's Times revelation it takes on a new relevance. In short, it is the story of how Donald Trump ran his Atlantic City-based casino empire into the ground but managed to survive and rebound by finding other people to assume his debts. It's a highly revealing story about Trump the man and businessman because it's hard to believe the totality of what happened didn't involve committing some serious crimes. But it's also the critical backstory to that loss of almost $1 billion which appears to have allowed Trump to avoid paying income taxes almost ever since.

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As I've mentioned at various points in recent months, when stupid things happen in politics many people are tempted to believe that looks are somehow deceiving and that what looks stupid, ill-prepared or desperate is actually canny, intended or ingenious. We should all resist this temptation.

When things look stupid or ridiculous, they generally are.

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I mentioned this on Twitter a short time ago. Now I'm seeing others who know much more about this saying similar things. Here's my thought. After thinking over the Times revelation, I wonder whether there's a much, much bigger story here that the Times didn't put together or more likely did see but couldn't prove.

In any case, here's what I'm thinking.

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As you've no doubt seen, we have a blockbuster story on the Trump tax returns front. In 1995, Trump declared almost $1 billion in business losses - generally tied to the implosion of his Atlantic City casino empire - and those losses have likely allowed him to avoid paying any income taxes for almost 20 years. Here's the Times exclusive; here's the version of the story at TPM. There are many moving parts of this story. But I thought I'd share some thoughts on parts I have some knowledge about.

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