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Tom Kludt

Tom Kludt is a News Writer for Talking Points Memo based in New York City. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, Tom served as assistant polling editor for TPM Media's PollTracker during the 2012 campaign. Before joining TPM, he worked on political campaigns and wrote for various publications in Minnesota and his native South Dakota. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Tom

Reuters reports:

Damascus and Syria's second biggest city, Aleppo, came under shell fire on Thursday as troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad stepped up efforts to crush rebels threatening the government's two main power centers.

One of the most senior figures to defect from Assad's inner circle, Brigadier General Manaf Tlas, put himself forward as someone who could help unite the fragmented opposition inside and outside Syria on a blueprint for a transfer of power.

A bomb attack that killed four of Assad's closest lieutenants last week prompted predictions among his enemies that the 46-year-old president's time in power was drawing to a close.

But in the days that have followed that attack, Assad's forces have noticeably toughened their response to the armed revolt, with fixed-wing combat aircraft seen in action over Aleppo and rebel fighters said by opposition sources to have been summarily executed on the streets of Damascus.

 

President Barack Obama's approval rating among business owners dropped from the first to the second quarter of 2012, research conducted by Gallup shows.  

Based on Gallup's daily tracking polls, Obama's approval rating among business owners dipped from 41 percent in the first quarter to 35 percent in the second quarter. Fifty-nine percent of business owners surveyed in the second quarter disapprove of the job Obama is doing.

The president's approval rating is lowest among farmers, fishers and forestry workers: 34 percent approve, while 57 percent disapprove. Obama earns the highest marks from professional workers among all occupational groups, with 52 percent approving of his performance and 43 percent disapproving.  

Crossroads GPS will roll out a series of new ads this week targeting Democratic Senate candidates in New Mexico, North Dakota and Nevada, according to National Journal.

The group will spend $451,000 for an ad focusing on Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), $138,000 on an ad targeting North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp and $233,000 on an ad crticizing Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM).  

Watch "Hiding," the Crossroads GPS spot that takes aim at Heitkamp's stance on the Affordable Care Act.  

  

President Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney in Michigan and Pennsylvania, but the outlook in both states remains uncertain, according to two new polls released Wednesday.

In one of a pair of releases by Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP), Obama comfortably tops Romney in Michigan, 53 percent to 39 percent. But the 14-point margin runs counter to several other recent public polls that have shown a much more competitive race in the Great Lakes State. A poll conducted by East Lansing, Mich.-based firm Mitchell Research & Communications and released on Tuesday showed Romney edging Obama among likely voters in Michigan, 46 percent to 45 percent.

The latest PPP survey meshes with expectations in the state, which has long been considered favorable terrain for Obama due to his administration's successful restructuring of the U.S. automotive industry. Wednesday's poll shows that Obama is widely seen as being better for the automotive industry than Romney, 55 percent to 29 percent. Romney has a strong connection to Michigan, where he was born and raised and his late father, George Romney, served as governor. But PPP's survey shows that only 22 percent consider the presumptive Republican nominee a Michigander, compared with 67 percent who do not.

The PollTracker Average shows that Michigan still favors Obama, although the race there has clearly tightened since Romney emerged from the Republican nomination contest.

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Republicans are much more enthusiastic about the 2012 presidential election their Democratic counterparts, according to the latest USA Today/Gallup poll.

The poll shows that 51 percent of Republicans nationwide are "more enthusaistc about voting than usual" in November's top-of-the-ticket election, whereas only 39 percent of Democrats feel the same way.

In fact, enthusiasm among Democrats has waned over the course of this year's campaign. A USA Today/Gallup poll in February showed 45 percent of Democrats were more enthusiastic about casting their votes in the 2012 election than previous cycles. Currently, 43 percent of Democrats say they are less enthusiastic about voting this year, compared with 33 percent of Republicans who are less enthusiastic.

The poll presents a marked contrast from four years ago.  In mid-June of 2008, 61 percent of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic about voting in that year's presidential election, while only 35 percent of Republicans were more enthusiastic at that point in the race between Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL).  

President Barack Obama continues to lead big among Latino voters, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll released Wednesday.

The poll — based on an oversample from Tuesday night's NBC/WSJ survey — shows Obama earning the support of 67 percent of Latino voters nationwide, easily trumping Mitt Romney, who earns the support of just 23 percent.  

Obama has consistently outpolled Romney among the burgeoning voting bloc, and the president's standing among Latinos only grew stronger after his directive last month to suspend the deportation of some young illegal immigrants.

The PollTracker Average shows Obama with a comparably large lead among Latinos, an advantage he has held over Romney throughout the campaign.

The widely watched U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts remains close, a new poll released Tuesday evening shows.  

According to the latest survey from MassINC Polling Group, Democrat Elizabeth Warren earns the support of 40 percent of voters, while Republican Sen. Scott Brown picks up the support of 38 percent. The 2-point gap is within the poll's 4.4 percent margin of error.  

Voters nationwide appear to be growing frustrated with both presidential candidates as negative campaigning intensifies, but Massachusetts voters are warming up to both Warren and Brown. Tuesday's poll shows that Warren's favorability rating stands at 47 percent, a 13-point jump from MassINC's April poll and a sign that voters continue to learn more about the Harvard Law professor and consumer watchdog. Brown's favorability rating also increased, albeit by a smaller margin, from 46 percent in April to 50 percent in the most recent poll.

The PollTracker Average currently shows an extremely tight race between Warren and Brown.

 

A new poll released Wednesday shows that New York voters overwhelmingly approve of the job their first-term governor is doing, but they're not quite ready to see him make a move to the White House.  

In the latest poll from Quinnipiac University, 73 percent of Empire State voters approve of the job Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is doing, while only 16 percent disapprove. Elected in a landslide in 2010, Cuomo has held sky-high approval ratings throughout his first two years in office. The PollTracker Average shows Cuomo's approval rating has been well above the 50 percent threshold for the better portion of his first term.  

Still, New York voters aren't sure whether they're ready to see Cuomo, widely pegged as a rising star in the Democratic Party, launch a presidential bid. Only 36 percent of New York voters say they want Cuomo to run for president in 2016, while 39 percent say he shouldn't run. The poll shows that voters think Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would make a better president than Cuomo, 54 percent to 30 percent.  

David Axelrod, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, acknowledged on Wednesday that the president's image has taken a hit due to escalating negative attack ads.  

Appearing on "Morning Joe," Axelrod responded to Tuesday's NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which showed that 43 percent of American voters hold a negative view of Obama — up 5 points from June's NBC/WSJ survey.  

"Understand that there have been probably $110, $120 million of negative ads run against the president in the last -- just in the last few months and so they're going to have an impact," Axelrod said. "You know, they're going to have an impact. That's just part of politics. I think what's noteworthy is the president's standing has held up under this torrent, and I think there are growing questions about Gov. Romney that he's abetted because they won't talk about his past and the future. That's a hard way to get elected president of the United States." 

Election Day may not be until November, but a substantial majority of voters already think they've learned enough about President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, according to a new poll from Pew Research Center. 

The poll shows that 90 percent of registered voters believe they already know enough about Obama, while 69 percent  believe they all that they need to know about his Republican challenger.  Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed suggested they still need to learn more to glean a clear picture of Romney.  

Voters would like to learn more about specific parts of Romney's background.  Forty-one percent say they would like to learn more about his record as governor of Massachusetts, while 36 percent would like to know more about Romney's tax returns, which have been the subject of heavy scrutiny from the Obama campaign.  Only 16 percent say they want to learn more about the religious beliefs of Romney, who is a lifelong Mormon.  

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