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July 15, 2014
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After his narrow victory in last month's very divisive Republican primary runoff, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran is on track to win his re-election this November. However, the actual shape of the electorate now looks very odd, to say the least, as Mississippi is a state where party politics are often drawn sharply along racial lines.

In the new survey from Democratic-aligned firm Public Policy Polling, Cochran leads for the general election with 40 percent of the vote, followed by former Democratic Rep. Travis Childers with 24 percent, and Reform Party candidate Shawn O'Hara with 5 percent — leaving an immense 31 percent of voters saying they are undecided. The poll was conducted from July 10-13, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.

Quite notably, the poll even shows Cochran with a one-point edge among African-American voters, who typically vote Democratic: Cochran has 37 percent support, and Childers has 36 percent. Among white voters, Cochran has 42 percent, and Childers has 17 percent. Among all voters, Cochran's approval rating is 47 percent, with disapproval at 37 percent; among white voters he is underwater at 40 percent to 46 percent, while black voters now approve of the Republican incumbent by a whopping margin of 59 percent to 20 percent.

Cochran won his GOP runoff with 51 percent of the vote due to an unorthodox strategy of reaching out to the state's African-American community and encouraging them to cross over into the Republican primary in order to defeat his Tea Party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel. Since then, McDaniel has been attempting to contest the outcome, alleging that voter fraud was involved. Among all voters, though, this poll shows 58 percent of respondents saying that Cochran was the rightful winner, compared to 29 percent who are still holding out for McDaniel. Eric Kleefeld

3:02 p.m. ET
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The House of Representatives on Thursday swatted down the more conservative of two immigration bills under consideration — but the margin between passing and failing was narrower than expected.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), met its end with a 231-193 vote against, per NBC News. It would've authorized but not specifically doled out border wall funding, and contained no provisions for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients brought here illegally as children. The Goodlatte bill was expected to fail spectacularly, but only 41 Republicans opposed it, along with all Democrats.

The more moderate of the two bills, backed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), is also expected to fail. It contains a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, provides $25 billion in border wall funding, and eliminates the visa lottery in favor of a merit-based system, per NBC. That vote was supposed to happen Thursday but was postponed until Friday, NPR reports. Republican lawmakers will likely use the time to try to attract more "yes" votes. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:37 p.m. ET

First lady Melania Trump faced extraordinary backlash last year when she traveled to visit victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas while wearing "black snakeskin stilettos." She's really outdone herself this time, though: On Thursday, the first lady was photographed traveling to visit immigrant children who have been separated from their parents at the border due to her husband's policies while apparently wearing a jacket that says "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?"

The British tabloid the Daily Mail noticed the message on the back of the Zara jacket. The first lady apparently "removed the offending jacket, which bore the controversial phrase in white graffiti-style writing across the entire back section, before disembarking the plane upon her arrival," the Daily Mail notes. Jeva Lange

2:10 p.m. ET
MOHAMED ABDIWAHAB/AFP/Getty Images

Genealogy testing is inherently creepy. After spitting into a vial and sending it off, your saliva's final resting place can be a mystery (unless it's accidentally sent to another customer).

That's why lawmakers want to protect your bodily fluids and the data they provide. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) wrote a letter asking four major genetic testing companies to clarify their privacy and security policies, and they shared the letter with Stat.

The four companies that got a letter — 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA, and National Geographic Geno — haven't been embroiled in any scandals. But the Democrats told Stat they want to uncover potential problems in how data is used and stored before something does go wrong. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) similarly questioned these companies' ethics in November and pressed the FTC to ensure it was clear how customers' DNA would be used.

After all, earlier this month, testing company MyHeritage announced that it had accidentally leaked 92 million customers' email addresses, per Reuters. And McClatchy recently found some skeevy details about what Ancestry has done with the world's largest collection of human saliva. Questioning these companies early will hopefully avert a sticky situation. Read more at Stat. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:08 p.m. ET

Two wrongs don't make a right, but apparently no one told that to the Republican defenders of the Trump administration's policies of child separation and detention. On Thursday, the Republican National Committee tweeted out a video of former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson "admit[ting] to expanding family detention under President Obama" in an attempted gotcha.

Yahoo News' Hunter Walker added: "Just a reminder, Obama isn't president."

The current homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, has also used the "we didn't start it" excuse, claiming that "the Obama administration, the Bush administration all separated families … This is not new." The Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org writes that while "experts say there were some separations under previous administrations," there was "no blanket policy to prosecute parents and, therefore, separate them from their children," like the strategy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this spring.

Besides, "he started it!" is never the best excuse — especially when you're now the only one who can end it. Jeva Lange

1:43 p.m. ET

There are plenty of people who would find it extremely difficult to muster up any pity for Donald Trump Jr., the eldest child of the president. Still, the GQ profile of Junior published Thursday makes a pretty compelling case — from his birth through his engagement through the end of his marriage. "Maybe he's not an intellectual, but he tried to be useful for his family," was how one insider gently put it. "I feel bad for him, honestly."

Here are four of the most depressing details in the profile, which you can read in full here. Jeva Lange

His parents dashed off to other engagements as soon as he was born.

That evening he was born, little Don was left by his parents to the care of the hospital's nursery. His father headed home to celebrate New Year's Eve, while Ivana put a boa and a mink over her hospital gown and went to visit a girlfriend recovering from back surgery on another floor of the hospital. [GQ]

His father didn't want to give him his name.

“You can't do that!" Trump is quoted as saying in Ivana's memoir, Raising Trump. "What if he's a loser?" [GQ]

When his parents were getting divorced, they had a spat over who had to raise him.

... [Donald] Trump, looking for some leverage by announcing that he was going to keep Don and raise him alone.

"Okay, keep him," Ivana said she told him. "I have two other kids to raise."

A few minutes later — his bluff out-bluffed — Trump ordered his boy to be taken back upstairs. [GQ]

He had the most unromantic engagement ever to Vanessa Haydon.

Despite his father's hand in their coupling, Don earned a scolding from his dad over the way he proposed — a Trumpian publicity stunt in which he scored a free engagement ring by popping the question in a jewelry store at the Short Hills mall in New Jersey. [GQ]

1:31 p.m. ET
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First lady Melania Trump has touched ground in Texas to check out immigrant detention centers and speak with Border Patrol officials, CNN reported Thursday.

Trump made a last-minute decision to take a trip to McAllen, Texas, the first member of the Trump family to personally visit the immigration facilities where children are being detained separately from their parents as they await prosecution for entering the U.S. without documentation.

Upon arriving in McAllen, the first lady told shelter workers she was "looking forward" to seeing immigrant children. "We all know they're here without their families and I want to thank you for your hard work, your kindness, and your compassion you're giving them in these hard times," she said, per The Hill. She additionally asked how she could "help these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible."

Trump's spokesperson said that the first lady wanted to "see what's real," deciding to visit the centers for herself less than 48 hours ago. Read more at CNN. Summer Meza

12:25 p.m. ET
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Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen probably shouldn't have gone to a Mexican restaurant while the government was splitting mostly Latino migrant children from their parents at the southern border. But in all fairness, Stephen Miller did it first.

Two days before Nielsen was publicly shamed for the family separation policy, President Trump's senior policy adviser similarly didn't think twice about eating at a Mexican restaurant, the New York Post reports. While protesters didn't flood the restaurant as they did with Nielsen, one customer did jump in.

"Hey look guys, whoever thought we'd be in a restaurant with a real-life fascist begging [for] money for new cages?” the customer said as Miller walked by, a witness told the Post. Miller didn't respond and stuck around to finish his meal.

After claiming for days that he was powerless to stop the separations, Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that seeks to amend a court ruling and thus allow migrant families to be detained together, rather than separate children from their parents at the border. Most of Trump's associates condemned the separation policy early on, but Miller was its fiercest champion and had a big role in crafting the so-called "zero tolerance" immigration policy. He even apparently enjoyed seeing photos of distraught kids torn from their parents, an outside White House adviser told Vanity Fair.

That'll be one order of enchiladas, smothered in irony, please. Kathryn Krawczyk

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