Signs and Wonders

Posted by Warren Cole Smith

At 12:45 pm on October 03, 2012

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With Friends Like These….  Hugo Chavez, the socialist dictator of Venezuela, has given President Obama his seal of approval.  Last weekend Chavez said, "If I was from the United States, I'd vote for Obama." He went on to say, "Obama is a good guy.  I think that if Obama was from Barlovento or some Caracas neighborhood, he'd vote for Chavez."  Conservative pundits had a field day with this statement.  Gary Bauer, for example, said, “It's obvious why Hugo Chavez supports Obama and thinks Obama would support him. Chavez certainly knows a fellow socialist when he sees one, and he also knows a weak-kneed American president when he sees one.”

Akin All In.  Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri let last week’s deadline to withdraw from the U.S. Senate race pass, and establishment Republicans who had abandoned him are now making noises like they might be re-engaging.  Conservatives like Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Phyllis Schlafly have made it clear they will do everything they can to win this seat.  Even Sen. Roy Blunt and former governor and senator Kit Bond are now back in the Akin camp, though they were among those saying he should get out of the race just a couple of weeks ago.  One person still not on board the Akin Express is Mitt Romney.  A Romney advisor, Kevin Madden, had the chance to come to Akin’s defense on MSNBC yesterday, but he refused.  "I can't speak for Gov. Bond and Sen. Blunt, but Gov. Romney has made his position very clear on that and it has not changed."  That position was, essentially, to throw Akin under the bus for inelegant comments Akin made in defense of his pro-life position.  Akin made a mistake, but Romney may be making a bigger mistake by not coming to Akin’s defense.  Polls had Akin nearly 10 points down just a couple of weeks ago.  Today, he has pulled even.

Debate Effects.  Unless you’ve been living under Maxwell Smart’s Cone of Silence, you no doubt know we’ll have a presidential debate this week.  But do they make a difference?  Not much of one, according to a new poll by Rasmussen Reports.  Voters are attaching less significance to the outcome of tonight’s first presidential debate compared to the kick-off debate four years ago. Eighty-seven percent of Likely U.S. voters say they are likely to watch the presidential debates this year, according to Rasmussen. That sounds like a lot, but it’s down nine points from 74 percent in September 2008. Only 17 percent say the debate will have a significant impact on their voting decision.  Though these numbers are relatively low, in a close race they could, of course, make all the difference.  Current polling suggests that key swing states will be decided by just a few percentage points, so events such as tonight’s debate could be decisive.

The Gap Widens.  The on-line prediction market In-Trade now has Barack Obama’s chances of winning re-election at a whopping 76.9 percent.  That’s up from the mid-50s in the past three weeks.   Real Clear Politics, based on a consensus of state polls, now has 265 electoral votes either “Likely Obama” or “Leaning Obama.”  He needs only 270 to win.  None of this means that Obama will win.  Much can happen between now and election day.  Among the key events of the campaign:  this Wednesday’s debate.  And on Friday we get another round of employment numbers, and they’re not expected to be much better than what we’ve seen so far.  But Romney has much ground to make up.  Either way, it will be a historic election:  Either Obama wins a second term and enters the elite club of two-term presidents, or Romney pulls off an upset for the ages.

Truing The Vote.  A national voter fraud watchdog group said last week it discovered at least 31 cases of absentee ballot fraud in New York and Florida.  The group, True The Vote, said these 31 cases are "just the tip of the iceberg."  These 31 cases identify people who True the Vote says voted in two states – Florida and New Jersey -- in the same federal election, which is a felony.  Logan Churchwell, a spokesman for the group, told that the organization accessed Florida's complete voter registration roll and cross-referenced it against 10 percent of New York's list. It identified more than 1,700 people with voter registrations in both states. Of that number, 31 people allegedly voted in both states during the same federal election cycle.  "This is further evidence of just how susceptible our election system is to voter fraud," the group's president, Catherine Engelbrecht, said in a statement.

Warren Cole Smith is Vice President of WORLD News Group.

Tags: election, Mitt Romney, politics, President Obama

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