Josh Marshall

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Josh Marshall is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TPM.

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Two updates from the Josh regional news mail bag.

First, remember the Central Bucks (County) School Board? This is the school board north of Philadelphia that got caught up in the Moms for Liberty tide in 2021 and then flipped back in 2023 when the locals — good upstanding folks, which I know from personal experience — got sick of the crap and turned out the Moms for Liberty crowd and gave Democrats a 6-to-3 majority on the board. This is the place where there was a very suspicious sweetheart deal cut with the departing superintendent — about which there’s now ongoing litigation. It’s also the stomping ground of our good friend “Cool Mom” Clarice Schillinger.

Well, now it turns out that two of the remaining three right-wingers — Lisa Sciscio and Debra Cannon — are done. Like they’ve resigned. First, they verbally resigned on February 13th. And apparently you can’t do that. So now they’ve resigned in writing, which you can. A special meeting of the board will be held this Friday to officially accept those resignations.

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No. Ezra Klein is Completely Wrong. Here’s Why.

A number of you have written in to ask about Ezra Klein’s audio essay “Democrats Have a Better Option Than Biden: It’s requires them to embrace an old-fashioned approach to winning a campaign.” Is it a good argument? Does it change the equation? What do I make of it? Just for the purposes of cutting to the chase: my answers are “not really,” “no” and “not much.” But Klein is a smart, articulate guy and sitting at the top of the Times op-ed page he has vast influence. So I wanted to break the argument down into its moving parts.

Klein begins his essay by assuring us that he likes Joe Biden and actually thinks he’s done a good job as President. This is to soften the reader up and dispel any notion that he’s got some anti-Biden axe to grind. I don’t think Klein is disingenuous or cynical about this. I think he believes it. He not only doesn’t think age has hindered Biden in doing the job as President so far; he doesn’t think it would in a second term either. The issue for him, Klein says, isn’t about being President but running for President: Biden has slowed down considerably, even from his last run in 2019–2020, and Biden simply is not up to running a vigorous campaign in which the candidate is an asset, not a liability.

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Glutton for Punishment: Let’s Look at Some Poll Numbers

Let me share some numbers with you. And let me preface this by saying that I am also very concerned about how perceptions of Joe Biden’s age and mental acuity are going to affect the outcome of this election. Emerson just released a new presidential poll which has Donald Trump up by 1 point over Joe Biden. It’s 45% to 44%. That’s in line with polls over the last month or so which show a very slight move back in Biden’s direction. (All margin of error but across numerous polls means a touch more.) It’s also a “registered voters” screen. And there’s decent evidence that those polls are understating Biden’s strength. They also polled Harris, Whitmer and Newsom. They were down, respectively, 3 points, 12 points and 10 points. Trump’s support was basically identical in every case. 45% with Biden and Whitmer, 46% with Harris and Newsom.

Importantly, this poll is generally in line with other polls going back many months. Most others I’ve seen don’t show Whitmer and Newsom quite that far back. But they’re consistent in showing the other top tier contenders to be no stronger than Biden and usually weaker.

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War Time School Board—There’s More! Prime Badge
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I’m tempted to say, TPM gets results! But it’s not quite that simple, at least in terms of mainstream chronology.

But it’s still super good. So hold tight.

Yesterday I brought you the news of the war time school board of Douglas County, Nevada, which culminates in the hiring of a new superintendent who has the kind of rap sheet that might normally get you expelled from a public high school as a student. All true!

But I’d missed the latest development.

As I explained, last week, the Douglas County School District school board formally offered the job of superintendent to John Ramirez, Jr., by a 4-to-3 vote, notwithstanding the fact that, according to this article at local news site Carson Now and other reports, he has a long list of bad acts, misuse of school credits cards, alleged frauds and multiple formal complaints of sexual harassment. Even more dirty laundry came out in subsequent days. Then on Tuesday of this week a new board meeting was held.

It was a pretty raucous affair.

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A Small Nevada County Finally Got a Wartime School Board Prime Badge
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When I got interested in taking a second look at some of the many school boards that were taken over by far-right “anti-woke” activists in 2022, it was hard to know where to start. You know about threesomer and Moms for Liberty Cofounder Bridget Ziegler and “Cool Mom” Clarice Schillinger, who will soon stand trial for the underage keggers she allegedly held in her home before decking various high school students who left too early. But there are so many other cases across the country. Most examples aren’t so lurid, eye-popping or hilarious. But they give those high flyers a run for their money. There is a common theme. It’s not all right-wing politics and bans on transgender students in sports. There is also a common pattern of taking over school boards and then pulling up stakes from the mundane but critical task of overseeing local public schools and instead refashioning the office into what amounts to a jurisdictional castle from which traditionalist culture warriors sally forth into the local community on various right-wing power trips, usually spending tons of money and violating numerous laws in the process.

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TPM on The Case

You see there to the right (if you’re reading TPM on a desktop computer) our live blogging of the fairly surreal hearing today in the Fulton County prosecution of Donald Trump. This is the one dealing with claims of wrongdoing tied to prosecutor Fani Willis’s relationship with fellow prosecutor Nathan Wade. See that here. But I wanted to make sure you saw the third and final installment of our series on the Ken Chesebro document trove. The third installment goes into new detail on the lawyer/conspirators’ efforts to game out which members of the Supreme Court were most likely to go along with their plot to steal the presidential election. As you might expect, Thomas and Alito come in for special consideration.

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NY3 Post-Game: It’s All Over But Deciding Why The Dem Win Doesn’t Matter Prime Badge
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With the clear light of morning I wanted to do another after-action report on the results out of the special election in New York’s 3rd congressional district. According to the close-to-final results, former Rep. Tom Suozzi beat Mazi Pilip by eight percentage points, 54% to 46%. That is a decisive if not a huge margin.

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One Thought

One thought on how this race turned out. As far as I know, not a single poll showed Pilip ahead. There were a few at the end that showed it close. But this was yet another race with a lot of junk or what we might call plain wrap polls. There were a couple polls I saw recently that had a modest single-point lead for Suozzi. But at least one of these and I think two also added a tighter screen of voters who were sure they were going to vote — slightly different from a standard “likely voter” screen. Those showed Suozzi moving into double digits. That made me pretty confident Suozzi was going to take this, for obvious reasons. The vibes world picked up a big Pilip surge in the final days. But that didn’t pan out.

That’s a Wrap

Okay, we finally got a first real batch of votes out of Nassau County. They confirm the story out of Queens. See the 9:40 p.m. update below. And now the AP has called it. Not sure where the final numbers will be. Nassau County takes a long time to report. But Suozzi wins this and it looks like it will be by a comfortable and perhaps even big margin.

NY-3 Results

9:56 p.m.: The best indication I’ve seen so far that Suozzi’s winning this is I’m already seeing the first arguments about how a Suozzi win is probably bad news for the Democrats.

9:40 p.m.: So basically where we are now is that Queens is mostly in and Suozzi has significantly exceeded the benchmarks he needs there. But most of the district is in Nassau County. This is a contiguous district. So it wouldn’t make a lot of sense that one part of it would be dramatically different relative to the baseline than another. But it could be. So we need to see some totals out of parts of Nassau County to really be certain where this is going. But you’d absolutely want to be Suozzi right now rather than Pilip.

9:27 p.m.: Okay, still a ways to go but Suozzi seems to be exceeding the benchmarks he needed in Queens. There’s a lot we haven’t seen. There are very different parts of this district and we’ve got the same day vs early issue. So it’s early but these are some promising early numbers for Suozzi.

9:21 p.m.: You can see topline results on lots of news sites. But I just saw this link to a site by a data guy which is showing the results down at the precinct level, if that’s your thing.

9:20 p.m.: Please note that the early results are showing Democratic parts of Queens and early vote. So don’t put much stock in those early numbers.

9:10 p.m.: The polls just closed in the New York City-area special election to replace expelled congressman and freak George Santos. The district includes part of Queens and adjoining parts of the Nassau County, which makes up the western part of Long Island. As usual, I’m watching the unfolding commentary on my election night analysts Twitter list, which you can find here. (If you’re no longer or not on Twitter, you’re right. Twitter sucks. Don’t know what to tell ya. This is what I use it for these days.) As usual, there’s not much great polling and a ton of “vibes.”

One major wildcard today was that there was a big snowstorm that seemed to put a major dent in turnout for the first part of the day. Put an asterisk on that because people can just decide to show up later. And by most standards it wasn’t a very big storm. Where I live in Manhattan there’s barely any snow left on the ground at all. But early today there was a ton of slush. The relevant point is that Democrats seemed to be banking a lot of early vote. So there’s a chance that Republicans got burned by a knock on turnout from bad weather. The truth is we have no idea. We’ll know more soon enough.

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