Editors’ Blog

Listen To This: It’s 1864 In Arizona

A new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast is live! This week, Kate and Josh discuss Arizona’s new, near-total abortion ban and what it means for the 2024 elections.

You can listen to the new episode of The Josh Marshall Podcast here.

Trump Feels on the Run on Abortion

Today in Atlanta a reporter asked Trump whether he would sign a national abortion ban if Congress sent one to him as President. He said he would not. A clear “no.” He got asked again, and again said no. It should go without saying that there’s zero reason to believe him. If Congress passed such a law he would almost certainly sign it. But that’s not what’s interesting here. He very conspicuously did not say this in his abortion mini-speech on Monday. It’s not like he didn’t know that was an option. He and his campaign very strategically did not say this. Now he has. It is a very clear sign of just how much Trump and his campaign feel like they’re on the run and on the ropes on this issue, partly because the Monday announcement was generally ineffective and even more after the bombshell news yesterday out of Arizona. Just two days later and they’re already having to do repair work on his big announcement that was supposed to sidestep the issue for the campaign.

Biden’s campaign has settled on a very clear message they’re using in response to every new restriction and horror story. “Donald Trump did this.” It works because it’s true. Indeed, Trump himself has shown he’s unwilling and unable not to keep taking the same credit. Donald Trump did this. And he’s feeling the heat in a way his own campaign did not expect and so far is showing itself unable to deal with.

The GOP-Funded Spoiler Candidates Prime Badge
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Over the coming months we’re going to see a lot of articles about some secret plan Republicans have to totally undermine or destroy Democrats, like this one in the Times. These will all of course be pitched by Republicans eager to spread the word about their devious secret plans, pump up their partisans and demoralize Democrats. The one I’m flagging here has some of that. But it’s worth reading because it is what this campaign will almost inevitably come down to — third party candidates and whether Republicans will be able to elevate them enough to allow Donald Trump to win.

One thing we should expect is for all of the “major” third party candidates — Kennedy, Stein, West — to be funded in part by ultra-high-net-worth Republicans. That’s already happening to some degree.

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Big Fibbin’ Tim Sheehy and a Whopper as Big as Montana

TPM Reader JK checks in on a Montana Senate candidate’s absurd claims about his emergency room visit after he accidentally shot himself while visiting a National Park in Montana.

Speaking as a trauma surgeon, you’re absolutely right about Sheehy. There’s absolutely no reason for doctors to report a bullet in someone, unless it just got there. People come in with “retained missiles” all the time. If there’s a healed scar over it, it doesn’t matter at all – it just means they can’t get an MRI.  And of course it’s obvious when someone has been recently shot vs years ago. The whole story is complete nonsense from bottom to top.

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A Replay of 2004?

I’d missed this from a few days ago. At NBC News, TPM alum Sahil Kapur notes that Democrats use of abortion ballot initiatives to coincide with the November election can be seen as a kind of replay of the 2004 election in which the Bush campaign got state Republican parties and activists to work to get anti-gay marriage initiatives on the ballot to goose turnout for their partisans. There are some pretty basic substantive differences, of course. Abortion rights that existed in 2022 have close to disappeared in many of these states and the ballot initiatives would bring them back and in many cases expand them. At the time legalizing gay marriage wasn’t really on the horizon in any of the states in question. But the functional similarity is a point well-taken.

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Full Panic Mode Kari Lake

Whatever happens in Arizona in November, we got a preview of the difficulty Republican candidates will have in states where high-stakes ballot initiatives literally put abortion on the ballot. Shortly after Arizona’s high court ruled that the state must go back to the 1864 abortion law which forbids virtually every abortion, Kari Lake, probable GOP Senate nominee (and governor over the water) released a remarkable statement. She first denounced the 1864 law, which she said she supported as recently as last fall. She said she opposed today’s ruling. She then demanded Gov. Katie Hobbs and the Republican state legislature “come up with an immediate common sense solution that Arizonans can support.” She then said that the decision will be up to voters in the ballot initiative that will be on the November ballot — that is, the initiative she actually opposes.

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AZ Abortion Ruling

The court decision out of Arizona reminds us there are lots of unknowns still to reveal themselves over the course of this election. This is a pretty big one. The state court ruled that Dobbs means the near complete ban on abortion under an 1864 law must be enforced in the state. If I’m understanding the ruling, it is for the moment stayed. So it doesn’t go into effect today. But it likely will pretty soon. Arizona abortion rights advocates say they already have sufficient signatures to get an abortion ballot initiative on the ballot for November. That’s not confirmed yet. But these groups have a lot of experience knowing the number of excess signatures required to be certain you’re going to get on the ballot. So it’s a safe assumption that that ballot initiative will be on the ballot. It’s just not certain.

So what we seem to be looking at is a situation in which abortion will become illegal and the only recourse is to win that ballot initiative in November. That’s disastrous near-term for Arizona women and potentially very good news for every Democrat on the ballot in the state.

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Yep, The Polls Are Shifting To Biden Prime Badge
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I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to be too focused on polls more than six months before a presidential election. But since polls have had such a big impact on the political mood and almost everything about how Democrats see their candidate, their coalition and the election itself I think it’s important to keep an eye on them. Or rather, since you’re inundated with them via commentary, it’s worth actually looking at the polls themselves, especially when they’re in flux.

All to that end, for months President Biden has been between 2 and 4 points behind in the polls — basically since late summer. But over the course of March that’s reversed and the average of recent polls puts him either tied or slightly ahead.

Let’s look.

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Thank You, Folks

As I’ve told you a number of times over the last three weeks, we launched this year’s Annual TPM Membership Drive with an ambitious goal of signing up 1,000 new members. Today, a bit before noon, we hit our goal. It was even ahead of schedule. We truly appreciate it. We appreciate our members and especially those thousand new members. It’s a very important milestone for the company’s finances. But it is also a big shot in the arm for our whole team. Because this doesn’t happen by accident. We’re a small operation. And this is the product of every member of our team from editors and reporters to techs and designers and producers and publishing staff operating at their peak and operating as a very integrated and collaborative team. I really could not be prouder of every one of them.

Before I share a few other thoughts, two points: First, the drive was scheduled to run through the 15th. Since we’ve hit our goal I’m not going to be pushing you to sign up anymore in the Editors’ Blog. But the 40% discount we’ve been offering will continue to apply through the 15th.

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Fibber Tim and the Suddenly Hilarious Montana Senate Race Prime Badge
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This is one of the most amazing stories to come down the pike in I don’t know how long, published over the weekend in The Washington Post. The short version is that Tim Sheehy, probable Republican nominee for Senate in Montana, is a comical liar and is trying to cover up that lie with a story so preposterous that it’s kind of a joy to run through because it’s so hilariously bad.

Seriously, I’m not overstating the case.

Let’s dig into the details.

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