Editors’ Blog

Fascinating Prime Badge

Kate Riga and I spent most of today’s episode of the podcast marveling at what on earth Lindsey Graham was thinking or smoking when he decided to push abortion even further to the center of the national campaign dialog. Nicole Lafond discusses the issue below, with Mike Pence getting on board with Graham’s proposal. What really surprises me though is Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ted Bud who’s running for a Senate seat in North Carolina.

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Where Things Stand: Pence Joins Graham’s Great ‘Election Interference’
This is your TPM evening briefing.

While vowing his undying allegiance to the “pro-life” movement, Turning Point USA founder and far-right provocateur Charlie Kirk could barely contain his ire with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) this week as he sweatily yelled at the senator for his abortion ban legislation. Kirk described the introduction of a bill that would ban abortion federally at 15-weeks just weeks out from the midterms as synonymous with “election interference.”

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Republicans Move to Ban Abortion Nationwide Prime Badge

With the morning we have a bit more clarity on the national abortion ban Lindsey Graham announced last night and says he will be introducing today in the Senate. It appears to be a national ban on abortions past 15 weeks, with as yet unspecified exceptions. It’s still possible that the number will be 20 weeks. We’ll have to see that detail. This NBC News piece explains the strategy, which is more or less what we thought: an updated version of the GOP playbook over the last couple decades which is to move the debate from absolute bans, where their position is overwhelmingly unpopular, to “late term” abortions where a broad swathe of the public gets more squeamish and uncertain.

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Gas on the Fire Prime Badge

I’m still trying to understand the precise details of this. But Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) just announced that he will introduce a national abortion ban bill in the Senate tomorrow. The news just surfaced a short time ago. And I’m still seeing conflicting reports as to whether his bill is a ban at 15 weeks or 20 weeks. The first report was from TPM alum Alice Ollstein.

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More 2020 Poll Forebodings Prime Badge

Over the last couple weeks we’ve seen write-ups pointing to the possibility or probability that polls in 2022 will underestimate Republican strength just as they did in 2020. Now Nate Cohn has one in The New York Times. Cohn’s analysis is particularly interesting to me since he’s been a fairly consistent skeptic of polls in recent cycles in terms of their ability to accurately gauge the strength of the Trump coalition. G. Elliott Morris had a similar write-up in The Economist last week. Philip Bump kicked the tires on Morris’s claims in the Post. While they break down the numbers, the gist is pretty straight-forward: If you take the polling error from 2016 and 2020 and plug it into our current polls you go from Dems being in a strong position for holding and even expanding their senate majority to more like a 50-50 odds of holding the chamber at all. On the House, a GOP majority and maybe a significant one is basically a given.

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More Details On Those Rumored Jan. 6 Subpoenas

Rumors have percolating in recent days among right-wing pundits that dozens of Trump allies had been subpoenaed by the DOJ โ€” but it’s been hard to get a clear picture what’s true and what’s not.

Now the New York Times has some details, reporting that 40 people were subpoenaed in recent days as part of the DOJ’s Jan. 6 investigation, including some who helped on the fake electors scheme. Names on the list overlap with those subpoenaed by the congressional Jan. 6 Committee. Story here.

We’ll have more on this, too, in the next few days.

Fruit of the Poison (Leonard Leo) Tree Prime Badge

A friend of mine pointed out to me this tweet from the head of Leonard Leo’s new “Honest Elections” outfit, the one that was recently given more than a billion dollars. He’s referring to the “independent legislature theory” the right is now trying to push in a case before the Supreme Court.

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Russia’s War and the Global Economy

I have noted a number of times over the last 18 months that we are in the midst of a vast contest and drama which includes not only multiple events unfolding in the United States but abroad as well. I’m usually talking about a broad struggle between civic democracies and nationalist authoritarianism. There’s another dimension of this unfolding now in Ukraine, where there has been a series of rapid battlefield advances by the Ukrainian army, of which you’ve no doubt seen news.

I’m still trying to understand whether we’re likely to see new fronts stabilize after Ukraine reconquered land over the last week, or whether the Ukrainian army has built up such momentum that it can continue this run of battlefield victories, reclaiming large amounts of territory. Regardless, we’re now heading toward winter, which will not only change the nature of the conflict on the ground but bring the energy part of the equation to the fore.

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Stephen Miller Subpoenaed

According to CNN, Stephen Miller has now been subpoenaed by the DOJ seeking information tied to Trump’s SAVE AMERICA Pac, the fake electors scheme and communications with various Trump adjacent malefactors.

Big Stuff Happening in Ukraine

In recent months many of us have gotten used to the Russia-Ukraine war as mostly a stalemate, with small gains in each direction often canceling each other out but no dramatic changes. That seems to be changing and perhaps rapidly. You’ve likely seen some reports of the Ukrainian offensive in the Kharkiv region. As near as I can tell (which isn’t that great) this started as what was partly a tactical feint toward the south which allowed the Ukrainians to catch the Russians off guard further north. The gains over the last 72 hours have been dramatic.

This illustration gives some sense of it.

From what I can tell this is unfolding as a relatively traditional mechanized and armored advance that once it breaks through key points can build momentum and move very rapidly. At least in this localized area it seems to have escalated to something like a rout or at best a hasty if not disorganized retreat by Russian forces.

What remains unclear to me is enough about the terrain or forces in the area to know whether the Russians can keep this advance relatively localized or whether this can continue into the rest of occupied portions of eastern Ukraine and fundamentally change the course of the war. Just no idea. Rapid mechanized advances like this can sometimes drive all before them. They also sometimes just run out of steam.

In any case, I would recommend to you again two Twitter lists I’ve curated with experts from whom we can learn more. This one is about the Ukraine war generally and this focuses more narrowly on the military dimensions of the conflict.

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