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

If you were betting on President Barack Obama's chances to win Nevada in a Vegas casino, you would probably consider the state's staggering unemployment rate, its history of voting for Republicans in seven of the last 10 presidential elections and its large Mormon population. And you might be wise to put your chips on him anyway.

Despite the many factors working against Obama in the Silver State, he is still favored to beat Mitt Romney there in November. Nevada bore the brunt of the recession arguably worse than any other state. Its unemployment rate dipped below 12 percent for the first time since 2009 last week, but its jobless rate is still the highest in the country. While any improvement is welcome for the state's beleaguered economy, there was an important caveat: The dip in unemployment numbers was partly due to a shrinking labor force. On paper, that should validate Romney's constant criticism that the economy has not recovered fast enough under Obama.

But recent polls indicate that talking point is simply not resonating in Nevada. A survey from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) last month gave Obama a healthy 8-point advantage over Romney in the state. Another poll released last month by Rasmussen Reports, a Republican-leaning firm, showed the president's approval rating in Nevada at 55 percent. The current PollTracker Average of both the presidential contest and Obama's approval rating in Nevada tells a similar story.

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A new Gallup survey shows the percentage of Americans who identify themselves as "pro-choice" on the issue of abortion has reached a record low.

Among 1,024 adults surveyed nationwide, 41 percent call themselves pro-choice, down six percentage points from last July and narrowly below the previous low recorded in May of 2009.

But the poll comes with an important caveat: 52 percent of those surveyed believe that abortion should be legal under certain circumstances.  Only 20 percent believe it should be illegal in all circumstances, while 25 percent believe abortion should be legal under all circumstances.   

In the wake of President Barack Obama's highly publicized announcement, a new poll shows that opposition to same-sex marriage has sunk to an historic low.

The Washington Post/ABC News survey released Wednesday shows that a majority of Americans, 53 percent, believe same-sex marriage should be legal, while only 36 percent believe it should be illegal.  For perspective, a WaPo/ABC poll from a mere six years ago showed that only 36 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage.  

It's evidence of the ongoing shift in public opinion of same-sex marriage and perhaps further indication that Obama will not pay a political price for his support for marriage equality; indeed, his new position will likely yield a neutral outcome at the polls.  

From the Washington Post: 

The president’s announcement may prove to be a wash: Most Americans say Obama’s stance on gay marriage will not play a big role in their vote for president. And the number of voters who say it makes them more apt to support Obama’s bid for reelection is roughly the same as the number who say they are now more likely to oppose a second term for him.


  The PollTracker Average also currently shows a majority in support of same-sex marriage.  



The ABC/Washington Post survey of 1,004 adults nationwide was conducted May 17-20.  It has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.  

A new poll shows that North Carolina is still very much up for grabs, with President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a dead heat in the Tar Heel State.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of WRAL-TV in Raleigh, Romney earns the support of 45 percent of likely voers, while Obama trails with 44 percent support.  That's well within the poll's margin of error of 4.4 percent.  

The poll also revealed that same-sex marriage, an issue that has generated considerable coverage in recent weeks due to Obama's public support and North Carolina's constitutional ban, might be a factor in the state's general election campaign.  Among the likely voters survey, 36 percent said the candidates' contrasting positions on the issue will be a "very important" factor, while 24 percent said it would not be a factor at all.

The current PollTracker Average currently gives Romney a narrow edge over Obama in North Carolina, which will play host to the Democratic National Convention in September.  


The new Quinnipiac poll of Florida shows a majority of voters there oppose same-sex marriage, already banned under the state constitution.  

Among voters surveyed, 50 percent said they oppose same-sex marriage, while 40 percent support.  But when given a three-way choice, 36 percent same-sex couples actually should be allowed to marry, 34 percent support their right to form a legal union but not marry, while 23 percent believe they should not receive any legal recognition of their relationships.  Florida passed a constitutional amendment in 2008 that defined marriage as union between a man and a woman.

But gay marriage will likely have little impact on the presidential race there: 63 percent of voters said President Barack Obama's recent support of same-sex marriage will makae no difference on their vote, while 59 percent likewise said that Mitt Romney's opposition to civil unions will not be a factor.  

The Quinnipiac poll, released Wednesday, also showed Romney besting Obama in Florida, 46 percent to 41 percent.  

Newt Gingrich has issued a warning to former rival Mitt Romney, who is set to formally accept the Republican nomination at the party's national convention in Tampa, Fla.: beware of Ron Paul supporters.

Paul has picked up delegates at various state party conventions, which Gingrich thinks could cause a disruption on the floor of the Republican National Convention in August.  

“I think the biggest danger in the short run is that they not think through how they’re going to handle the convention in Tampa, and how they’re going to handle the Ron Paul forces,” Gingrich said on Sean Hannity's radio program Monday.

(h/t ABC News)

Amid renewed scrutiny of his time at Bain Capital, a new poll examines how voters view presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's career at the private equity firm.

The poll, conducted by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) on behalf of Daily Kos and SEIU, found that 57 percent of voters believe Romney's primary concern at Bain Capital was making a profit.  A much smaller group of voters — 12 percent — believe that Romney was largely motivated to create jobs, while 25 percent say he cared about both equally.  

Romney's career with Bain has been a linchpin of his presidential campaign, with the former Massachusetts governor routinely touting his role as a job creator in the private sector.  President Barack Obama's campaign has sought to reverse that narrative over the last week, highlighting layoffs made by Bain while Romney was at the helm.

The poll of 1,000 registered voters nationwide was conducted May 17-20.  It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.  

Archbishop Timothy Dolan took aim at the Obama administration Tuesday, arguing that the president's contraception policies are "strangling" the Catholic Church.

"They tell us if you're really going be considered a church, if you're going to be really exempt from these demands of the government, well, you have to propagate your Catholic faith and everything you do, you can serve only Catholics and employ only Catholics," Dolan said during an interview on CBS Tuesday.  "We're like, wait a minute, when did the government get in the business of defining for us the extent of our ministry?"  

The remarks from the outspoken and influential American bishop come nearly a week after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave a commencement address at Georgetown University amid protests from various Catholic groups.  Dolan criticized Georgetown, a Jesuit school, for inviting Sebelius, who had a significant role in developing the administration's policies on contraception coverage.

"Well, I do think that's a problem," Dolan said. "Georgetown is the oldest Catholic university in the country. Part of Catholic identity is to be in union with the bishops."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is not welcome in the country that has been the theatre for the longest war in the history of the United States.  

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer that aired Monday, Karzai said that Rohrbacher — the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee and a staunch critic of the Karzai government — must walk back previous statements if he ever wants to enter Afghanistan.

"Until he changes his tongue, until he shows respect to the Afghan people, to our way of life and to our constitution ... No foreigner has a place asking another people, another country to change their constitution. Have we ever asked the United States to change its constitution?" Karzai told Blitzer.

Karzai was referring to Rohrbacher's repeated calls for a more decentralized Afghan government.

The latest ABC/Washington Post poll shows President Barack Obama with a narrow 3-point advantage over presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney in what has been a hyper-competitive introduction to the general election season.

Among registered voters nationwide, the survey found 49 percent intend to vote for Obama in November while 46 plan to support Romney, well within the poll's 4-point margin of error. The poll also confirmed what has been clear all along: the economy will loom large in this race.  

From the Washington Post:

Despite flare-ups over issues including contraception and same-sex marriage, more than half of all Americans cite the economy as the one concern that will decide their vote in the fall, relegating others — such as health care, taxes and the federal deficit — to single-digit status.

More than eight in 10 Americans still rate the national economy negatively, but there are strains of optimism as it continues to recover from the collapse of 2008. A majority of Americans — 54 percent — say they are more hopeful than anxious about the situation over the next few years, while 58 percent are bullish about their financial prospects.

When asked which candidate would do a better job in handling the economy, voters were split: 47 percent give the nod to Obama and 47 percent prefer Romney.  The two candidates are also tied when it comes to creating jobs, with 46 percent of voters saying they trust Obama compared with 45 percent who favor Romney. But the president has the clear upper hand when it comes to relating to voters, with 48 percent saying Obama better understands the economic problems facing people in this country compared with 40 percent who say Romney.  

The PollTracker Average also shows Obama with a razor-thin lead over Romney.