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Tom Kludt

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Tom

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, and his wife, MacKenzie, have made a significant financial contribution to the coalition campaigning to defend a state law in Washington that protects civil marriage for same-sex couples.

Washington United for Marriage (WUM) announced on Friday a $2.5 million financial gift from the Bezoses, bringing the coalition's fundraising total to $5 million.

"I am thrilled by Jeff and MacKenzie's staggeringly generous donation," said WUM's volunteer finance co-chair Jennifer Cast said in a press release.  "Their support of our efforts to approve R74 comes at an important time and will have great impact.  I am deeply grateful to both of them as this donation is going to help us make history."

Washington voters will decide on Referendum 74 in November.  If approved, the referendum will uphold a measure legalizing same-sex marriage that was passed by state lawmakers in Olympia and signedby outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) in February.

Priorities USA Action, the Super PAC supporting President Barack Obama, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are highlighting Mitt Romney's deteriorating favorability ratings among Latino voters in Colorado, Nevada and Orlando and Tampa, Fla., a trend the groups claim is a direct result of their Spanish language ads that have run in those media markets.

A memo released Thursday by Priorities USA and SEIU focuses on tracking polls conducted on behalf of the groups that show Romney's unfavorable ratings among Latino voters have spiked since May in each market where the ads have aired.  The polls also show Obama with a commanding lead over Romney among the key voting bloc in the aforementioned states and cities.  

"The poll mirrors what we are hearing in the field," SEIU national political director Brandon Davis said in a press release.  "When voters hear Romney's disingenuous rhetoric and how his policies would devastate communities, they recognize that re-electing President Obama is essential to moving the country forward."

The ads can be viewed here, here and here.  According to the PollTracker Average, Obama has maintained an enormous lead over Romney among Latinos throughout the campaign.

 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will likely issue a sharp denunciation of President Barack Obama's record during his keynote address at next month's Republican National Convention, but a new poll from Monmouth University shows that both men are widely admired by Garden State voters.

The poll, released Thursday, shows that 55 percent of likely voters have a favorable view of the first-term governor, compared with 35 percent who have an unfavorable view. Obama, meanwhile, is viewed favorably by 53 percent, while 38 percent view the president unfavorably.  

Thursday's poll also shows Obama leading presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney among likely New Jersey voters, 50 percent to 42 percent.  Obama holds a comparable lead in New Jersey, according to the PollTracker Average of the presidential race in the state.

Militants took down an Iraqi army helicopter on Thursday in fighting around the town of Hadid, the AP reports.  The clashes left at least 19 people, including 11 police officers, dead and appear to be a part of an effort by al-Qaida to reclaim one of its erstwhile strongholds.    

 

 

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.

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