Josh Marshall

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

All Going Swimmingly in AZ-2 Prime Badge

I got this fascinating report from TPM Reader EK about the situation in Arizona’s 2nd district …

I wanted to share a closer look at one House race to get some insight into where Nate may be off.

FiveThirtyEight shows Walt Blackman with an 84% chance of winning over incumbent Tom O’Halleran in Arizona’s new 2nd Congressional District.

First, the Republican primary is in disarray. Blackman has proposed murder charges for women who get abortions. Trump came to Arizona to endorse Ed Crane, who has very few ties to Arizona. Trump was actually booed by the audience because they want Ron Watkins, who had a key role in forming Q Anon.

Attached is a flyer Crane supporters mailed to Republicans attacking Blackman for the Aug. 2 primary.

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More Josh Numbers Mumbling Prime Badge

I’ve been noting in different posts that there are more disconnects than usual in making sense of the 2022 election. A lot of things don’t quite seem to fit. Is this the continuing upheaval of the last two years? A shift in the trend? Or just wishful thinking? Who knows. But TPM Reader YK noted to me recently a little detail that helps quantify that disconnect. Our friend Nate Silver’s 538 forecasts include three versions. One with a mix of polls, expert opinion and a mix of history, fundraising, voting patterns and more. It’s this last one that is usually treated as the canonical forecast. That one currently shows the Senate at 50%-50% between Democratic and Republican control. With the House it’s 85%-15% in favor of the GOP. (Technically, these are the percentage of times the computer simulation gives victory to each side.)

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Trump and the Trajectory of the Trump Presidency Prime Badge
A slow shutter speed image of former US president Donald Trump on a TV screen is seen in this photo illustration in Warsaw, Poland on 23 February, 2022. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto)

One great theme of reportage on the Trump presidency is that it took Trump almost his entire term of office to learn how to make the federal government run to his purposes, to bend it to his will. He learned to ignore his cabinet secretaries and operate through the lesser-known officials with their hands on the levers of power. He found ways to exploit the maze of loopholes, workarounds and unenforceable laws which essentially allowed him to ignore Senate confirmation and oversight. This week Axios published a big report on how Trump and his top advisors are planning to use this knowledge in a second term to gut the federal bureaucracy and restock it with an army of Trump loyalists. In other words, in term one, Trump’s very ignorance and laziness provided a critical insulation against his worst instincts and most malicious goals. In term two he will hit the ground running knowing exactly what to do.

While accurate in many regards, this view of the man and the trajectory of his presidency misses the essence of it. What hides from most, almost in plain sight, is that Trump now rarely discusses any political agenda — even in the broadest, most guttural and least policy-oriented sense of the term. There is no agenda other than revenge and payback for the injustices and injuries he personally suffered in his first term: the Democrats, the RINOs, Mueller, the impeachments, the “fake news”, what he memorably calls “Russia, Russia, Russia,” “Big Tech.” Remember that “fake news” wasn’t part of Trump’s 2016 campaign argot. That was appropriated from the growing discourse of campaign misinformation he profited from and retrofitted for use against what he perceived as an unfriendly press. Grievance and payback have always been the central touchstones of Trumpism. But this is distinct. To appreciate his arc we have to go back to the beginnings of the Trump presidency.

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The Uncanny 2022 Midterm

I wanted to flag again that the congressional generic ballot continues a small but steady creep in the direction of the Democrats. The shift is basically since the leak and then official release of the Dobbs decision. To be clear, Democrats are still very much the underdogs in the battle for the House, though they’re close to tied in the congressional generic ballot. The two prognostication sites I watch put the Dems’ odds in the 15% or less zone. So, not good! But the movement is in their direction and there’s more than three months to go.

At the same time, conventional wisdom is moving strongly in the Democrats’ direction in the Senate. There have been a lot of signs of this that conventional opinion really missed because they were seeing things so much through the prism of a GOP wave election. One of these now sees a 55% likelihood of Democrats maintaining control of the Senate and the other 50%-50%. These have each moved significantly in the Dems’ direction just over the last week.

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About Last Night Prime Badge

If you didn’t see the Jan. 6th’s committee’s (for now) final hearing, it was a powerful presentation. The two big takeaways, if you’re already pretty versed in what we know about that day, are these: the exfiltration of Mike Pence was probably a closer-run thing than we’d even imagined. Members of Pence’s Secret Service detail were apparently talking of calling loved ones to say final goodbyes before they decided to move him to the Capitol complex’s secure location. We also saw more of Trump’s alternatively sullen and desperate refusal to face reality — or, perhaps more specifically, refusal to dispel his supporters’ absolute belief that his “landslide” victory had been stolen. Just a pathetic, degenerate huckster capable of great violence and evil.

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It Looks Real, Real Bad

The Secret Service text destruction story has been a sort of slow burn. As Kate Riga and I discussed in the new podcast episode, I think this is due to the fact that a lot of people in government and media are having a hard time making sense of the story. They keep wanting to hear more because the current facts don’t make any sense. More to the point, both the guilty and the innocent versions of events seem equally absurd. Is it really possible that the Secret Service would purge its records of Jan. 5th and 6th and somehow not think anyone would notice or care? It seems too over-the-top and brazen even for some of the most cynical of observers. At the same time, the Secret Service’s explanation seems even more absurd. Let’s take a moment to walk through what that story is.

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Exactly What Needs To Happen

The Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security has ordered the Secret Service to stop its internal investigations into its deleted text messages because it could interfere with his own investigation of what happened. I was wondering why this hadn’t happened yet, frankly. Given the facts as we know them, no Secret Service investigation would be credible. And it would be hard to have confidence that it would not become a vehicle for destroying or covering up evidence about the data purge itself.

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Biden Has COVID

President Biden has tested positive for COVID. The White House says Biden is experiencing “very mild symptoms” and has begun taking the Paxlovid antiviral treatment and will isolate in the White House. He will continue with regular meetings and work by phone and Zoom.

The List Is Here

Okay, folks. The TPM Roe and Reform list is here. It is our best effort to categorize where all 50 Democratic senators (and an expanding list of major candidates) stand on passing a Roe law and suspending the filibuster rules to guarantee that bill gets an up or down majority vote. Kate Riga and I came up with 29 senators who have clearly committed to doing that. Two are dead set against. 11 more are pretty close but still choosing to keep their position vague. Yet another 6 are still sticking with no comment. And then two we’ve put in a “problem child” category. Not nos but to the extent they’ve spoken to the issue at all have expressed continuing resistance. Those are Sen. Warner of Virginia and Sen. King of Maine.

Once again. This is not intended as a definitive list. We will be sprucing up and refining the visuals over the next few days. But I’m mostly talking about the substance. This is a list that is meant to change. It is intended as a guide or worksheet for whipping a legislative vote. Most of these will quickly answer in the affirmative when pressed for an answer. Others will hold out longer. I’m pretty confident all 48 will eventually sign on. But that will be up to constituents, citizens, voters who press the matter. So as I said, this is your guide to press the matter.

Has something changed? Did someone switch? Did we miss something? As I said, it’s a list that is meant to change, to quickly become outdated and then brought up to date. That’s a feature not a bug.

Be in touch.

Nota Bene 7.20.22

* I wanted to note for your attention that the full slate of fake Trump electors in Georgia for the 2020 election have now gotten “target letters” (sub req) from the office of Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fani Willis. A target letter doesn’t guarantee someone will be indicted. But it generally means, be ready to be indicted.

* Another number in a collection of data points that don’t fit the standard narrative about the 2022 midterm: Democratic Senate candidate are wildly out-raising their GOP competitors among small donors (less than $200). That margin will likely be largely made up by big donors. But it’s still providing a significant advantage for Democrats and belies the narrative about flagging enthusiasm.

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