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

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that most Americans believe presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney would be a better president for financial institutions and the wealthy while a slight majority pegs President Barack Obama as the better candidate for the middle class.

The poll examines how Americans feel about the economy — unquestionably the bellwether issue in the 2012 presidential campaign — as well as their perceptions of the two candidates. Among those surveyed, 65 percent believe Romney would do more to advance the interests of wealthy Americans, while only 24 percent believe Obama would do more on that front.  

The venture capitalist turned Massachusetts governor is viewed as the candidate who would do more to advance the interests of financial institutions by a similarly large margin, 56 percent to 32 percent.  When asked who would do more to advance the interests of middle class Americans, 51 percent give the edge to Obama while 42 percent say Romney would do more.  

Despite this ostensibly favorable outcome in the poll, the president is still locked in an extremely competitive campaign with Romney — a reflection of the economic pessimism that still pervades the country.  

From ABC News:

Other elements also will inform the economic debate in the months ahead. More people think new regulations on financial institutions are too weak rather than too strong, by a 15-point margin, 38 to 23 percent. More also feel that unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy is a bigger problem than overregulation that stifles free enterprise.

Both those may help Obama, but broader economic discontent works against him. And the public divides on whether or not they feel they have a fair chance to get ahead, a weak report on the American dream that reflects the still-sour public mood after four-plus years of downturn.

An endorsement of same-sex marriage was long considered risky for President Obama because of the expected backlash from the African-American community. Few seemed to consider the alternative, which polling suggests is playing out instead: Rather than changing their minds about the president, some black voters are reconsidering gay marriage.

A pair of polls released in the last week suggest Obama's highly publicized announcement may have helped trigger a shift in attitudes among African-Americans, a historically socially conservative voting bloc, in states where same-sex marriage has been at the forefront of public debate. On Thursday, Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) released the results of a survey showing that the state law legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland is a strong favorite to be upheld by voters in November, with 57 percent of likely voters saying they will vote for the referendum and only 37 percent intending to vote against.

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This might be Mitt Romney's classiest fundraising effort yet.  

Romney's campaign is urging supporters to make a donation for the chance to win a prize package that includes a dinner with the presumptive Republican nominee and Donald Trump. The winner will also receive airport transportation in "the Trump Vehicle," a free stay at Trump International Hotel & Tower New York and a tour of the board room used in Trump's NBC reality series, "The Celebrity Apprentice."  

Trump, who has emerged as one of President Barack Obama's most outspoken critics, endorsed Romney in February.  

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has endorsed Ted Cruz in the increasingly competitive Republican primary for open U.S. Senate seat in Texas.

"Ted Cruz is spellbinding, a tremendous orator and principled," Santorum said on Glenn Beck's radio show. "Understands these issues at his core. We need people who can motivate and lead. Ted has that capability."

Cruz, the state's former solicitor general and a tea party favorite, has already won the endorsement of Sarah Palin.  Cruz is viewed as the top challenger to state Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, with both candidates vying for the seat being vacated by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R).

(h/t CNN

A new poll released Thursday should serve as an encouraging sign for gay rights advocates in Marryland who are campaigning to keep a state law that legalized same-sex marriage on the books.

The statewide poll, conducted by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) on behalf of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, shows that 57 percent of likely voters intend to vote for the referendum to uphold the law that was signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) in March.  Only 37 percent of likely voters are plan to vote against the law.

The poll also finds a significant shift in opinion among African-American voters in Maryland, which has played a large role in the measure's emergence as a favorite to pass.  

From PPP

The movement over the last two months can be explained almost entirely by a major shift in opinion about same-sex marriage among black voters. Previously 56% said they would vote against the new law with only 39% planning to uphold it. Those numbers have now almost completely flipped, with 55% of African Americans planning to vote for the law and only 36% now opposed.

The latest NBC/Marist survey of Virginia released Thursday shows Tim Kaine holding a six-point lead over George Allen in the race for the Commonwealth's open U.S. Senate seat.

Among registered voters statewide, the state's former Gov. Kaine tops Allen, who represented Virginia in the Senate from 2001-2007, 49 percent to 43 percent.  After his gubernatorial term ended in 2010, Kaine became the chair of the Democratic National Committee, a post he left last year to launch his campaign.  The two candidates are vying to replace Sen. Jim Webb (D), who defeated Allen in 2006 and announced last year that he will step down after his first term in office.

The PollTracker Average of the race mirrors the results of the NBC/Marist survey, with Kaine currently enjoying a roughly six point lead over Allen.


A new Quinnipiac poll of Florida shows that two-term Democratic  Sen. Bill Nelson could be in the fight of his life in his matchup against U.S. House Rep. Connie Mack (R).

The statewide poll of registered voters gives Mack a narrow one percentage point lead over Nelson, 42 percent to 41 percent — within the survey's margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

Mack, who represents Florida's 14th Congressional District, is the heavy favorite to win the Republican Party's nomination in August.  In the Quinnipiac poll, he claims the support of 40 percent of Republicans.  No other GOP candidate tops ten percent.  

The PollTracker Average currently gives Nelson a razor-thin lead.


A trio of polls released Thursday give President Barack Obama marginal leads over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in three crucial swing states. 

The latest NBC/Marist surveys polled registered voters in Ohio, Virginia and Florida.  Obama enjoys his largest lead over Romney in Ohio, where NBC/Marist found the president favored by voters over the former Massachusetts governor, 48 percent to 42 percent.  The president's leads over Romney in Virginia and Florida are identical: 48 percent to 44 percent.  

Not only will the three states figure prominently in the 2012 electoral college map; they are also home to three elected officials rumored to be on Romney's veep shortlist.  The bad news for Romney: tapping Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R), Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) as a running mate would not improve the Republican ticket's chances in their respective stomping grounds.  The NBC/Marist poll found there is little change in the three swing states when Portman, McDonnell or Rubio are added to the hypothetical matchup, with the Democratic ticket of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden maintaining their leads in all three states.

The current PollTracker Average of Ohio, Virginia and Florida illustrates just how tight the race is between Obama and Romney in the three battlegrounds.  Below, the average for Florida shows Romney with a narrow lead: 


Gen. Colin Powell told CNN's Wolf Blitzer Wednesday that, like President Barack Obama, he supports the right of same-sex couples to get married. 

"I have no problem with it," Powell said. "In terms of the legal matter of creating a contract between two people that's called marriage, and allowing them to live together with the protection of law, it seems to me is the way we should be moving in this country. And so I support the president's decision."