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Should the same three states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - be able to determine the outcome of every presidential election?
June 27th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Should the same three states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - be able to determine the outcome of every presidential election?

By CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Fresh new polls are out today in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida - states that went for President Obama in 2008 but are expected to be toss-ups in November.

The Quinnipiac polls show Obama leading Mitt Romney by four points in Florida, 45% to 41%, which is within the poll's sampling error. The president is helped out here with strong support from Florida's Latinos.

In Pennsylvania, the president leads Romney by six points, 45% to 39%, his lead bolstered by a strong gender gap. Mr. Obama leads Romney by 12 points among women in Pennsylvania.

And in Ohio, the president is up nine points, 47% to 38%, once again with a big gender gap.

History suggests Obama will almost certainly win a second term if he can keep the lead in all three of these key swing states through Election Day.

In every presidential election since 1960, the winning candidate for president has carried at least two of the three. These three states combined have 67 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election.

But the word "battleground" has a special meaning in some cases.

Remember the hanging chads in 2000? The Supreme Court wound up deciding the election because Florida was mired in an antiquated system that kept the vote count there in question for weeks.

And then there's Ohio. Remember the voting machine fiasco in 2004?

You could make an argument that until they learn how to do it, Florida and Ohio shouldn't be allowed to vote in any more presidential elections.

But the fact is, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania hold the keys to the White House – and that's a fact, Jack.

And right now things are looking pretty good for Obama.

Here’s my question to you: Should the same three states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - be able to determine the outcome of every presidential election?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Elections • Florida
Florida lowers passing test grade after students' scores drop?
May 17th, 2012
03:55 PM ET

Florida lowers passing test grade after students' scores drop?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Yet another sign that our education system is failing:

Florida is lowering the passing grade on the writing portion of a standardized test.

Students' 2012 scores plunged on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test writing exam.

Only 27% of fourth graders scored a passing grade of 4 - out of a possible 6.

Last year 81% of fourth graders passed. Eighth and 10th graders had similar declines in their scores.

So the state Board of Education decided to change the test's passing score to a 3 - from a 4. Presto. Suddenly the number of kids who passed was about the same as last year.

Critics say by manipulating test results, Florida is covering up problems in the system. It has also reignited an ongoing debate over using standardized test scores to make important education decisions.

The state education commissioner defends the decision, saying it "helps to correct the process, not the results."

Schools and parents were told this was coming. Florida announced last summer there would be tougher grading for the writing exam - with more focus on spelling, grammar and punctuation. In the past, those issues had been graded with "leniency."

State officials say they may not have communicated those changes well to school districts and teachers.

It kind of makes you wonder how Florida graded these writing exams before the increased focus on little things like spelling and grammar.

Here’s my question to you: What does it say about U.S. education if Florida lowered the passing grade on a standardized test after students' scores dropped?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.</strong5

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Filed under: Education • Florida • On Jack's radar
May 22nd, 2008
04:57 PM ET

Does Obama have a problem with Jewish voters in Florida?

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Sen. Barack Obama at an event to honor the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence in Washington, D.C. Click the Play Button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"The fate of the world for the next four years... it's all going to boil down to a few old Jews in Century Village"… that's the assessment of the 2008 election campaign by Rabbi Ruvi New, according to the New York Times.

While the line is the kind that will get a laugh, the point he's making is very serious: Barack Obama could have a problem with some Jewish voters, especially in Florida.

Obama was in Boca Raton today speaking in a synagogue about foreign policy and his approach to Israel. Florida is critical, and Jews make up almost 4% of voters there. Many of them are elderly, and that's the group that has concerns about Obama.

He has received a lot of support from younger Jews – winning 45% of the Jewish vote in the primaries – if you don't include Florida and Michigan. But the latest Florida poll suggests Obama would lose to John McCain, while Hillary Clinton would win.

Obama didn't campaign in Florida and voters didn't get a chance to know him. It is a hotbed for rumors about him: people think he's Arab – he's not; that he's part of Chicago's Palestinian community – he's not; that al Qaeda is backing him – they aren't; that he'll fill his cabinet with supporters of Louis Farrakhan – he won't; and that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is the godfather of his children – he isn't. It's amazing with all the access to accurate information that people could be so pathetically uninformed.

Others are worried about Obama's commitment to Israel or have reservations about his willingness to talk with Iran. And for some, it's a question of race.

Here’s my question to you: What does Barack Obama have to do to persuade Florida's Jewish population to support him?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Florida
March 19th, 2008
05:00 PM ET

Where is Clinton left without revotes?

 Sen. Hillary Clinton delivered a speech on Iraq at George Washington University, Monday in Washington DC.
Sen. Hillary Clinton delivered a speech on Iraq at George Washington University, Monday in Washington DC.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Hillary Clinton is challenging Barack Obama to a rematch in Michigan and Florida.

Clinton made a last-minute trip to Michigan today to emphasize her support for a re-vote there, saying it's "wrong, and frankly un-American" not to have delegates from the two states seated at the convention. She also is suggesting that the outcome of the general election may be at stake if Democrats don't count these delegates. Of course, the DNC penalized both these states for moving up their primaries.

Obama, whose name wasn't on the ballot in Michigan, hasn't yet supported or opposed the plan, but his campaign has raised a number of questions about the proposal. They say that a revote wouldn't make such a big difference in the overall delegate count and that the Clinton campaign is trying to change the rules to suit itself.

As for Florida, plans fell apart over the weekend when the state's Democratic Party said there won't be any revote.

For Clinton, though, many see the revotes in the two states as a necessity. Big victories would help her close the gap with Obama when it comes to pledged delegates as well as the popular vote. Two more victories would also bolster her argument to superdelegates that she can deliver key states.

But the argument to seat Florida and Michigan's delegates based on results from January seems to lose some weight when you consider this: a new study by a Wharton professor suggests that about two million more people would have voted in Michigan and Florida if they thought their votes would have counted.

Here’s my question to you: If neither Florida nor Michigan holds revotes, where does that leave Hillary Clinton?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Democratic Race • Florida • Michigan
March 12th, 2008
05:05 PM ET

Should Florida & Michigan count without revotes?

 Miami, Florida early voting site.
Miami, Florida early voting site.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It looks like Florida's Democrats hit a roadblock when it comes to finding a way to re-do their primary election.

Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation say they unanimously oppose holding a vote by mail. Although they say they are committed to working with the DNC, the 2 candidates, and other party leaders, they are against "a mail-in campaign or any redo of any kind." Doesn't sound like there's too much wiggle room there.

At issue here is whether voters in Florida, as well as Michigan, will get another chance to weigh in on the race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The party stripped the two states of their delegates after they moved up their primaries.

Obama is also expressing concerns about a mail-in vote in terms of "making sure that whatever we do is fair and that votes are properly counted and the logistics make sense."

Clinton won both primaries, but that was after all the candidates agreed not to campaign in the contests. Obama's name did not appear on the ballot in Michigan.

Here’s my question to you: Should delegates from Florida and Michigan be seated without redoing the elections in those two states?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: 2008 Election • Florida • Michigan