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

If this election year represents a potential crossroads for Democrats -- wherein the party must choose to either embrace progressive principles or espouse moderation in the name of electability -- Tuesday's U.S. House primary contest in Illinois's 10th Congressional District might well be instructive.

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At a time when Barack Obama's national approval rating is varying wildly from pollster to pollster, the President is receiving an encouraging sign in another key swing state.  The latest Public Policy Polling (D) survey of North Carolina shows Obama besting all four potential Republican challengers in hypothetical general election match-ups.  

Among registered voters in the state, Obama tops the prohibitive GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, 49 percent to 46 percent, as well as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 49 percent to 44 percent. Romney leads among usual Republican primary voters, claiming 31 percent to Santorum's 27 percent. 

Long a Republican stronghold, North Carolina went blue in 2008 when Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the Tar Heel State since Jimmy Carter in 1976.  The state will be highly coveted again this year, as it is widely thought to be crucial to the Obama's re-election chances.  The TPM Poll Average of North Carolina shows an extremely close race between Obama and Romney, although the president has been trending upward since January.

The latest Public Policy Polling (D) survey of Pennsylvania shows Rick Santorum is not only the runaway favorite to win his home state's Republican presidential primary but also the most formidable GOP candidate in hypothetical match-ups with President Barack Obama. 

Among Republican primary voters in the Keystone State, Santorum claims the support of 43 percent of respondents.  Mitt Romney is a distant second with 25 percent, while neither Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul top 15 percent.  

When the survey was opened up to include all registered voters in the state, the president holds a mere two-point advantage over Santorum, who represented Pennsylvania as both a congressman and United States senator.  Obama enjoys a larger lead over Romney — widely considered to be the frontrunner for the GOP nomination — 49 percent to 42 percent, which represents an encouraging development for the President in a state that he almost certainly needs to win in November.  

From PPP: 

Obama's 7 point lead over Romney in Pennsylvania is a shift from last year when we twice found them tied, once found Romney ahead by a point, and once found Obama ahead by three. In addition to Obama's approval numbers improving, Romney's image has taken a hit in the state over the last 3 months. His favorability numbers were already bad at 32/51, but now they're worse at 30/60. Obama's turned a 2 point deficit against Romney with independents into a 51/38 lead.

The TPM Poll Average shows the president with a comparable advantage in Pennsylvania, where Obama has maintained a roughly six-point lead over the former Massachusetts governor since early January. 


Both Rasmussen and Gallup track President Barack Obama's job approval on a daily basis, but the two prominent pollsters are offering very different takes with their latest releases. 

In every release since Friday, Rasmussen has shown the president's approval ratings well under the 50 percent mark. Obama's numbers dipped significantly on Saturday and Sunday, with only 44 percent approving of his job performance on both days. The 44 percent approval rating matched Obama's 2012 nadir in the Rasmussen survey.

Gallup, meanwhile, has shown the president above water over the same time period.  In fact, Obama's approval rating is just short of 50 percent in today's release, with only 43 percent disapproving.

Both pollsters conduct their tracking surveys over a three-day span and both are based on a sample size of 1,500 respondents; however, Gallup surveys adults — any citizen over the age of 18 — whereas Rasmussen only polls "likely voters."  

The TPM Poll Average captures the steady improvement in Obama's approval rating in the weeks after the new year began, along with the slight drop that has occured over the last month.     

A week ahead of his state's Republican presidential primary, former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (R) has endorsed Mitt Romney. 

Riley pledged his support to Romney while acknowledging that the former Massachusetts governor, who has struggled to build a coalition of support in southern states, faces an uphill battle in Alabama. 

"I think Romney is an underdog in the state of Alabama but that doesn't take away any of my support for him," Riley said in an interview Wednesday.

Riley served as governor from 2003 until 2011. The Alabama primary is scheduled for March 13.  

The latest Public Policy Polling (D) survey offers encouraging news for gay marriage proponents in Maine, as voters in the state prepare to take up the issue this November. 

In the statewide poll of registered voters, 54 percent of respondents indicated that gay marriage should be legal, while only 41 percent said it should remain illegal. 

The polling marks a significant turnabout in Maine, where then-Gov. John Baldacci's (D) measure to legalize gay marriage was overturned by voters in 2009, 53 percent to 47 percent. 

“It looks like Maine will reverse its 2009 vote on gay marriage this fall,” Dean Debnam, President of PPP, said. “That’s symbolic of the shift in public opinion that’s occurred on this issue over the last few years.”

Newt Gingrich on Wednesday continued his steadfast refusal to drop out of the Republican presidential race for the benefit of Rick Santorum, arguing that the former Pennsylvania senator is not a safe bet to defeat Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama.

"If I thought he was a slam dunk to beat Romney and to beat Obama, I would really consider getting out," Gingrich said during a morning interview Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" radio show. "I don't."  

The Associated Press is reporting that state treasurer Josh Mandel has won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Ohio.  Official results were unavailable, but the AP characterized it as an easy victory.  The 34-year-old Mandel will now face Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown in the general election.  

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), a top supporter of Mitt Romney, released a statement this evening celebrating the former Massachusetts governor's victory over Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) in the Commonwealth's primary:

"With today's victory in Virginia, Mitt Romney has again demonstrated that his bold and conservative plan to get spending under control, make government smaller and more efficient, and help the private sector create good paying jobs is resonating all across America. He is winning primaries in every region of this country, from New Hampshire to Nevada, and today Governor Romney has added the Commonwealth of Virginia to the list. Voters know that Mitt Romney is a strong, principled, results-oriented conservative who will bring people together to get our economy back on track and Americans back to work. He is a leader. Mitt Romney has experience in both the private and the public sectors in providing the type of positive leadership that we desperately need in Washington. I look forward to doing all I can to help ensure that Mitt Romney is elected President this November, and we bring opportunity back to America."         

In case there was any lingering doubt, the latest survey of Georgia from American Research Group confirms what most have expected all along: Newt Gingrich will likely claim a decisive win in the state he represented in Congress for 20 years.

The statewide survey of likely Republican primary voters shows Ginrich claiming 44 percent support.  Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are well behind the former House Speaker, polling at 24 percent and 19 percent respectively.

The TPM Poll Average of Georgia tells a similar story: barring a shocking upset, Gingrich is poised to win the Peach State in a landslide.