Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

As long as everyone has nothing to do but perseverate over polls until tonight's debate, I thought I'd give you a walk-through of the six national polls released today.

Monmouth: Clinton +3 Quinnipiac: Clinton +1 YouGov/Econ: Clinton +4 Bloomberg/Selzer: Tie Morning Consult: Clinton +2 Franklin Pierce: Clinton +2

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As media orgs often do before a major election event, various news organizations have released a veritable storm of new polls this morning. We have five new national polls just this morning along with a number of state polls. This comes after several key polls were released yesterday. As of this moment Hillary Clinton holds a .6 percentage point lead over Donald Trump nationwide. (When I first started writing this post we had four national polls and it was Trump +.1.) Meanwhile The TPM Electoral College stands at Clinton 264, Trump 221. From yesterday that takes into account Colorado moving back into the Toss Up category from lean Clinton.

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Bloomberg/Selzer is out with a new poll this morning showing a straight tie at 46% in a head to head race between Clinton and Trump. Trump actually leads by two points, 43% to 41% when third party candidates are added. For context, the Selzer poll is a highly regarded national phone poll, not one of the many more erratic online polls we've seen this cycle.

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A few days ago Politico reported that the Secret Service was paying a big chunk of money to fly on Trump's airplane even though the plane wasn't more expensive to fly with them on the plane. That story basically amounted to a quirk of normal procedure. The Secret Service picks up the cost of the travel of the agents who are traveling with the candidate to protect him or her. But it's Trump's own plane and he always travels on it. So it's a bit cheesy. But it's mainly because Trump is the only candidate who owns his own jetliner (and Tag Air Inc., the 'airline' which is comprised of Trump's various airplanes and helicopters.)

But now Huffington Post has uncovered a new part of the story.

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There is a raging debate right now about just how close the presidential race is. Is it really that close? Is it time for Democrats to panic? On and on and on. As you may have picked up from my tone I think there's a lot more heat here than light. Or to put it in statistical terms, the discussion has a high margin of ego and acrimony, even though the actual disagreements seem relatively limited.

The debate between Nate Silver and his critics essentially comes down to the meaning of "close". At heart there's an argument here over something that seems as emotive as statistical - how much should we emphasize that while Clinton remains the favorite to win, we can't take for granted or assume she'll win? This doesn't strike me as a truly statistical argument. More concretely, people are arguing over whether the current 538 model is more volatile than it should be, whether it's picking up a lot of polling noise as opposed to signal. This is a statistical and probability question that is frankly beyond me.

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Most of the commentary I've seen about Monday night's debate focuses on whether Trump will show up hot and angry or be a suddenly polished and articulate Donald Trump we've never seen before. There's also a feverish debate over expectations which posits that if Trump doesn't kill anyone or find some new extremely sympathetic person to make racist comments about that he'll win - judged against extremely low expectations. Neither of these ring true to what I've seen from the two candidates over the last 18 months or what I glean from the state of the race.

For starters, Trump definitely said some crazy things in the numerous Republican debates. But fairly few of the really damaging things he said in this campaign were in the debates. They tended to be at rallies or in interviews. Put simply, Trump wasn't as crazy or unhinged in debates as people seem to remember. So if we're expecting him to come in trash talking and angry I think we may be surprised, at least at first.

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Here's the third episode of my new podcast with Bloomberg Businessweek's Josh Green. We talk about that Mark Penn memo from the 2008 campaign, which he was the first to report way back in 2008 and also his 2015 profile of Steve Bannon, Breitbart capo and now Trump campaign capo. Josh basically has the inside track on everything that turns out to be central about the 2016 campaign. So I talked to him about it. Hope you enjoy.

With this in mind, who's gets rattled more easily, who's cooler under pressure: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?