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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: No, Hurricane Irma is not a Category 6


    A hurricane with winds in excess of 180 mph is scary enough. But some corners of the Internet are stirring additional panic by referring to an extreme hurricane category that doesn't exist.

    One web post appeared as Hurricane Irma powered through the Caribbean, days ahead of an expected landfall in Florida. The storm is one of the most powerful to form in the Atlantic Ocean, with sustained winds as high as 185 mph....

    Hurricane Irma west of the Leeward Islands on Tuesday as it grew into a Category 5 storm. [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via the Association Press]
  2. PolitiFact: Getting to the truth in North Korea talking points


    The United States and North Korea, adversaries for decades, stand today at unusually heightened tensions.

    Even if it weren't the dog days of August, this story would be at the center of Americans' attention. And it has inspired a wide range of commentary and talking points, from pre-dawn tweets by the vacationing president to viral images flying around social media.

    However, some of the rhetoric surrounding this nuclear-armed standoff is of questionable accuracy....

    This meme blaming former President Bill Clinton for North Korea's nuclear program started appearing amid rising tensions between the country and the United States. (Handout)
  3. Buzz rankings: Handicapping the 2018 midterms


    No one knows how much upheaval the 2018 midterm elections will bring. But all indications are Florida will be a significant battleground.

    For the fifth campaign cycle in a row, the Buzz will be ranking the most vulnerable congressional districts among Florida’s 27 U.S. House seats.

    The districts below are ranked in descending order from most vulnerable to least vulnerable. We only consider seats that are vulnerable to a party switch in the general election, not to an incumbent’s loss to a primary rival. We have sorted the districts into four categories – “highly vulnerable,” “vulnerable,” “potentially vulnerable” and “minimally vulnerable.” The seats in the delegation not listed below are not considered vulnerable at this time....

    Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-R-Miami, had House Speaker Paul Ryan on the campaign trail with him last October. His seat ranks "vulnerable" in the new Buzz rankings.
  4. PolitiFact: How expensive would a single-payer system be?


    During remarks at the White House this month to a group of Republican senators, President Donald Trump pushed the visiting lawmakers for repeal-and-replace legislation for the Affordable Care Act.

    Trump warned that some Democrats are becoming increasingly interested in pursuing a "single-payer" health insurance system, in which the federal government, rather than private insurers, pays all medical expenses....

    President Donald Trump makes a statement on health care while standing with "victims of Obamacare" at The White House on July 24 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chris Kleponis - Pool/Getty Images)
  5. PolitiFact: 6 questions about the Senate health care bill and transparency


    Now that a Senate health care bill has been unveiled, senators will be jousting over its provisions to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    But substantive policy differences aren't the only front in this battle. Another one is the secretive process of putting together the Senate bill — something that even some Republicans have criticized....

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., edits a quote attributed to President Donald Trump to comment on the release of Senate Republicans’ health care legislation on Thursday.
  6. PolitiFact: Ivanka Trump on target with figures on women in STEM fields


    The statement

    "While (women) represent 47 percent of the overall workforce, we only make up 23 percent of STEM-related occupations."

    Ivanka Trump, June 12 in an interview on Fox & Friends

    The ruling

    When we looked into this statistic, we found that it's not far off the mark.

    Trump was correct about the percentage of the overall workforce that is female — average Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2016 finds precisely that figure, 47 percent....

    On June 2, Ivanka Trump stands in the doorway as her father, President Donald Trump, speaks before signing bills in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
  7. PolitiFact: Why economists are skeptical that U.S. can grow by 3 percent


    There are few things Donald Trump loved more during his presidential campaign than proving the experts wrong. His next target: economists.

    Specifically, Trump wants to demonstrate that there's no reason why the United States can't consistently grow at 3 percent a year.

    This assumption underpins his budget, and his budget director leaned heavily on it during the May 23 unveiling of Trump's budget proposal....

    Budget Director Mick Mulvaney holds up a copy of President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget on May 23 as he speaks to members of the media in the Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
  8. PolitiFact: Obstruction of justice, presidential immunity, impeachment, what you need to know


    Americans are hearing a lot of comparisons these days between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, particularly after news reports revealed the existence of contemporaneous notes taken by soon-to-be-fired FBI director James Comey during his conversations with Trump.

    The news reports hinted at further notes that could be subpoenaed by either Congress or law enforcement, fueling speculation that these materials could help lay out a case that Trump committed obstruction of justice by seeking to quash probes into his campaign's alleged ties to Russia....

    In this March 15, 1973 file photo, President Nixon tells a White House news conference that he will not allow his legal counsel, John Dean to testify on Capitol Hill in the Watergate investigation and challenged the Senate to test him in the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi)
  9. PolitiFact: The Pants on fire claim that no one dies from lack of health care access


    What Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told a restive town hall audience in Lewiston, Idaho, was destined to go viral. And it did.

    At the May 5 event, questioners asked the congressman about the Republicans' vote the previous day on a major health care overhaul that would roll back many aspects of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, including limits on expanding Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor....

    Rep. Raul Labrador responds to questions during a town hall meeting on May 5 in Lewiston, Idaho. (Associated Press)
  10. PolitiFact: Nancy Pelosi on target about what Donald Trump might save under his tax plan


    The statement

    "The 'tax plan' rolled out by @realDonaldTrump would have cut his taxes by $30 million in 2005 (the only year we have returns for)."

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., April 27 in a tweet

    The ruling

    Trump is the first presidential candidate, and the first president, in decades not to release his tax returns.

    Two portions of Trump's tax returns have been leaked to the media. One consists of summary pages from state tax returns from 1995, which were sent anonymously to the New York Times last fall. However, because these are state — not federal — tax documents, they don't shed much light on Pelosi's claim....

    WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27:  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center April 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Pelosi gave President Donald Trump a letter grade for his performance as he approaches his 100th day in office.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
  11. PolitiFact: What's up with Donald Trump and Andrew Jackson?


    If it were possible to have a bromance across the centuries, Presidents Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump would almost certainly qualify.

    Repeatedly over the past year, Trump has invoked and praised his predecessor in the White House, who served from 1829 to 1837. In addition to various mentions in remarks and on Twitter, Trump placed a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office and made a pilgrimage to the late president's tomb in Nashville less than two months after being sworn in....

    President Donald Trump speaks on the telephone in the Oval Office of the White House. In the background is a portrait of former President Andrew Jackson which Trump had installed in the first few days of his administration. [Associated Press]
  12. Trump is incorrect about 'statistically employed'


    The statement

    "When you look for a job, you can't find it and you give up. You are now considered statistically employed."

    President Donald Trump, Tuesday in a CEO town hall

    The ruling

    At a town hall with CEOs, President Donald Trump revived some of his long-standing concerns about how the nation's unemployment statistics are calculated.

    Appearing to reference the number of Americans out of work, Trump said, "We have 100 million people if you look. You know, the real number's not 4.6 percent (for the unemployment rate). They told me I had 4.6 percent last month. I'm doing great. I said yeah, but what about the hundred million people? A lot of those people came out and voted for me. I call them the forgotten man, the forgotten woman. But a lot of those people — a good percentage of them would like to have jobs and they don't. You know, one of the statistics that, to me, is just ridiculous — so, the 4.6 sounds good. But when you look for a job, you can't find it and you give up. You are now considered statistically employed. But I don't consider those people employed."...

    President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) DCPM110
  13. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Donald Trump's Time magazine interview on truths and falsehoods


    Confronted by Time magazine about his most flagrant falsehoods, President Donald Trump finally faced the question of why he makes so many unsubstantiated claims.

    "What have I said that is wrong?" Trump asked.

    Trump said his instinct is usually right, and he usually finds evidence supporting his claims that the media and his critics ignore — even as he continued to cite nonexistent evidence....

  14. Fact-checking Tallahassee: See what lobbyists, lawmakers got wrong, and right, during a week of session


    TALLAHASSEE — PolitiFact Florida reporters attended committee hearings, peered in on floor debates and hoofed it to rallies and news conferences during a week of fact-checking lawmakers and lobbyists at the state Capitol.

    What we found: Less controversial issues produced largely accurate claims, but the truth suffered on more divisive topics, such as gun control and the "stand your ground" law....

Florida Capitol looking east, Tallahassee.
  15. Dreaming fondly of playtimes (and crushes) past, senators back mandatory recess


    Appropriations Committee senators had a little nostalgic fun today while approving SB 78, a bill to require minimum standards for elementary school recess statewide.

    The bill, sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, would require each district school board to provide students between kindergarten and fifth grade with 20 minutes of daily recess. Some districts already do that, but others do not. This was the bill's second committee stop....

    First and second graders have recess at Sexton Elementary School in St. Petersburg Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. Around Florida and particularly in Pinellas County, parents have started pushing for public schools to bring back recess in elementary school.