Make us your home page

Louis Jacobson, PolitiFact Senior Correspondent

Louis Jacobson

Louis Jacobson is the senior correspondent for PolitiFact and a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times. He has served as deputy editor of Roll Call and as founding editor of its legislative wire service, CongressNow. Earlier, he spent more than a decade covering politics, policy and lobbying for National Journal magazine. Since 2002, he has handicapped political races, including state legislatures, governors, congressional seats, state attorneys general and the electoral college, currently for Governing. He is senior author of The Almanac of American Politics 2016 and also contributed to the 2000 and 2004 editions. In 2004, Jacobson originated the "Out There" column on politics in the states, which ran in Roll Call and later in and which won five annual awards from Capitolbeat, the association of state capitol reporters and editors. He received the Weidenbaum Center Award for Evidence-Based Journalism from Washington University in St. Louis in 2014.

Phone: (202) 463-0576

The Jacobson file:


  1. PolitiFact: Jeb Bush wrong to claim national debt never a debate topic


    The statement

    The debt "comes up all the time in town meetings … but it's never asked in the debates. It's really weird. It hasn't been brought up."

    Jeb Bush, Feb. 2 at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H.

    The ruling

    We found this hard to believe — and it turns out, Bush's memory on this one is faulty.

    Examples of questions about the debt asked during a debate:...

    Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush stands with Sen. Lindsey Graham during the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of a town hall meeting in Rindge, N.H., on Feb. 2. (Cheryl Senter/The New York Times)
  2. Jeb Bush doubles down on experience argument


    RINDGE, N.H. — The day after Iowa voters gave first, second and third place to relatively inexperienced Republican politicians, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush doubled down on the experience card during a morning event in New Hampshire.

    Bush chose to be introduced by a veteran congressional politician  —  former presidential rival Lindsey Graham  —  and by his host, Franklin Pierce University president Andy Card, who was the former chief of staff to President George W. Bush, Jeb Bush’s brother....

    Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush poses for a photo with attendees after a town hall-style meeting in Rindge, N.H.
  3. PolitiFact: Just a few weeks of auto worker's wage paid a year of college 50 years ago


    The statement

    "Fifty years ago, the average GM employee could pay for a year of a son or daughter's college tuition on just two weeks' wages."

    Martin O'Malley, Democratic presidential candidate, Jan. 14 in a column on

    The ruling

    According to the U.S. Education Department, average undergraduate tuition and fees — excluding room and board — in the 1965-1966 school year was $607 per year for a four-year college (public and private) and $203 for a two-year college....

    DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 25:  Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley participates in a town hall forum hosted by CNN at Drake University on January 25, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. O'Malley is in Iowa trying to gain support in front of the states Feb. 1 caucuses.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) 600935593
  4. PolitiFact: What's missing from Donald Trump's criticism of a Ted Cruz attack ad


    The battle for conservative votes between Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has morphed from friendly fire to all-out war ahead of the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus.

    A new television ad from Cruz that Trump condemns exemplifies the pre-caucus beef. Cruz's ad portrays Trump as a selfish businessman who loves eminent domain because it "made him rich, like when he colluded with Atlantic City insiders to bulldoze the home of an elderly widow."...

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Muscatine High School in Muscatine, Iowa, on Sunday.
  5. Ryan's right on chronic poverty


    The statement

    "Today, if you were raised poor, you're just as likely to stay poor as you were 50 years ago."

    House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Jan. 9 in a column posted on

    The ruling

    The newly installed House speaker recently took to Medium to set the stage for a forum in Columbia, S.C., on Republican efforts to fight poverty. The forum, hosted by the Jack Kemp Foundation, drew six 2016 Republican presidential candidates: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, retired physician Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio....

    FILE - In this Jan. 7, 2016 file photo, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Two fresh faces in the Republican Party, Ryan and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, are offering messages of openness and diversity that could answer the GOP establishment?€š€™s increasingly desperate search for an antidote to the loud pronouncements of presidential front-runner Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) WX202
  6. PolitiFact Florida: Jeb Bush says he helped reduce youth heroin use as governor


    Addiction is a deeply personal issue for Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, whose daughter, Noelle, suffered from addiction and a string of related criminal charges while he was governor of Florida.

    Bush offered a glimpse into "the heartbreak of drug abuse" in a post on the website Medium, along with policy proposals to better address addiction based on his gubernatorial tenure.

    "As governor of Florida, I used a combination of strategies to help reduce heroin use among youth in Florida by approximately 50 percent," Bush wrote....

    Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush participated in the Forum on Addiction and the Heroin Epidemic at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett, N.H., on Jan. 5.
  7. Fact-checking the candidates' response to Iran news


    On the Sunday shows, presidential candidates reacted with vehemence to the weekend's news of Iran releasing American hostages as the two countries implemented a major nuclear agreement.

    On the left, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont hailed the news of the hostages' release and offered kudos to President Barack Obama. On the right, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Obama had set a bad example that would encourage America's enemies. ...

    Sen. Marco Rubio credits President Ronald Reagan for the 1981 release of hostages in Iran when it was President Jimmy Carter’s administration that negotiated the deal.
  8. Fact-checking the Republican presidential debate


    As the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses near, the seven Republican candidates at Thursday's presidential debate in North Charleston, S.C., didn't need any help from the moderators to launch attacks at each other.

    PolitiFact fact-checked several claims from the Fox Business Network debate, including a variety of candidate attacks about rivals' past stances and voting records. Here's a rundown....

    Republican presidential candidates, from left, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Jeb Bush participate in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on Thursday. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
  9. PolitiFact: Trump gets foreign policy facts wrong on Taliban Five, South Korea


    New polling shows Donald Trump is neck-and-neck with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to win the Iowa caucuses for the Republican nomination for president. In interviews from Iowa on Sunday, Trump focused on foreign policy, continuing to criticize President Barack Obama and urging a change of course.

    Trump hammered Obama for being a poor negotiator, particularly for Obama's controversial decision to exchange five Guantanamo detainees for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a Taliban prisoner, in May 2014....

    Republican front-runner Donald Trump speaks Saturday in Ottumwa, Iowa. He recently criticized President Barack Obama’s policy of having U.S. troops on the ground in South Korea.
  10. PolitiFact: Fiorina statement n U.S.-China cybersecurity misleading


    The statement

    "When we held recent economic dialogues with China, we agreed on over 100 different things  —  including wildlife trafficking and volcano research. None of these 100-plus points of agreement addressed cybersecurity."

    Carly Fiorina, Dec. 17 in a column posted on Medium

    The ruling

    Campaign spokeswoman Anna Epstein told us that Fiorina was referring to a news release in which the White House summarized 127 areas of agreement reached in June 2015 at the Strategic & Economic Dialogue, a periodic summit between high-level representatives of the United States and China....

    Carly Fiorina speaks during Republican presidential debate at Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) WIKS155
  11. Trump gets it wrong on U.S., China coal connection, usage


    The statement

    "We're practically not allowed to use coal anymore. What do we do with our coal? We ship it to China and they spew it in the air."

    Donald Trump, Nov. 30 on MSNBC's Morning Joe

    The ruling

    There's a grain of truth here, but it's buried under significant exaggeration.

    In August, the Obama administration announced Clean Power Plan regulations that would require power plants to reduce carbon emissions, from 2005 levels, by 32 percent by 2030....

    FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2015 file photo, Donald Trump makes a point during the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. During the debate, Trump stated that since the extremist Islamic State group is using the Internet to recruit; the tech industry needs to find a way to stop them from doing that. (AP Photo/John Locher, File) NY118
  12. Donald Trump responds to PolitiFact's Lie of the Year, says he's 'been proven right'


    The inevitable has happened: After being awarded the 2015 PolitiFact Lie of the Year, Donald Trump has fired back.

    On Monday, the day PolitiFact's annual award was announced, Trump spoke to ABC News' Jon Karl following a campaign stop in Grand Rapids, Mich.

    "PolitiFact is a group that if I said something right down the middle they are always going to be negative," Trump said. "They are leaning in a certain direction, and no matter what you do with them — I mean they are a very dishonest group in my opinion."...

  13. PolitiFact examines military spending under President Barack Obama


    Republican candidates have portrayed the country's military spending as woefully inadequate under the Obama administration.

    They say the cuts, many made as part of the funny-sounding word "sequestration," put the United States at risk in the fight against terrorism. But the White House argues that it has been working to increase spending on the military, with some results.

    The facts are sometimes murky, which makes it hard to know the truth....

    President Barack Obama greeted troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan last year. Reductions over several years have taken the Army down to its current size of about 490,000. By fiscal year 2018, 40,000 positions will be cut.
  14. PolitiFact: Marco Rubio largely right about few countries taking on ISIS directly


    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., dismissed Donald Trump's proposed Muslim ban as an attempt to "recapture the limelight after having lost it," then pivoted to a harsher critique of President Barack Obama.

    "But he is reminding us in that process that people are really upset and they're really scared," Rubio said of Trump on Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "And they're worried. And I think the president made things worse last Sunday with his speech, not better."...

    Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., addresses supporters at the Oakland County International Airport, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Waterford Township, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)   MICO104
  15. PolitiFact: Fiorina exaggerates on consumer protection bureau's lack of oversight


    The statement

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has "no congressional oversight."

    Carly Fiorina, Nov. 10 in a presidential debate

    The ruling

    The bureau's mission is to "protect consumers by carrying out federal consumer financial laws." This includes enforcing consumer financial protection laws, following up on consumer complaints, promoting financial education, conducting research on consumer behavior, and monitoring financial markets for risks....

    Carly Fiorina speaks during Republican presidential debate at Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) WIKS155