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How much will rising gas prices affect your vote for president?
March 12th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

How much will rising gas prices affect your vote for president?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Americans' pain at the pump could translate to pain at the polls for President Obama come November.

The national average for gas now tops $3.80 a gallon.

According to AAA, gas prices are almost at - or above - $4 a gallon in nine states - plus the District of Columbia.

Hawaii has the nation's most expensive gasoline at $4.44 a gallon.

Wyoming has the cheapest gas prices at about $3.30 a gallon.

As history has shown time and again, rising gas prices usually wind up hurting the guy in the White House.

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows President Obama's ratings falling as gasoline prices rise.

The poll shows almost 2/3 of Americans say they disapprove of how the president is handling gas prices. That's the lowest rating he gets on any issue in this poll.

Also, most Americans say higher gas prices are already affecting their family finances.

And almost half say they think gas prices will keep going higher.

When it comes to the economy, 59% of Americans give the president negative ratings.

If gasoline prices continue their upward march they could impact the outcome of the election.

Exit polls from Super Tuesday showed almost 8 in 10 voters said rising gas prices were an important factor in their vote. And that's before summer driving season gets under way.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, Americans on average say gas prices of $5.30 to $5.35 per gallon would force major life changes.

Most Americans say they want the president and Congress to take action on rising gas prices.

Here’s my question to you: How much will rising gas prices affect your vote for president?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Gas Prices
Should applicants for jobless benefits have to pass a drug test?
March 12th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Should applicants for jobless benefits have to pass a drug test?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Arizona could become the first state to require drug tests for applicants for unemployment benefits.

This was part of the deal when Congress agreed last month to extend jobless benefits through the end of the year. That legislation allows states to require drug testing for people who lost their jobs because they failed an employer's drug test - or for those applying for jobs where drug testing is common.

The Arizona State Senate has approved this bill and now it will go to the House for a vote. The Bill's sponsor tells the Huffington Post he would have pushed for this legislation even if Congress hadn't paved the way.

Republican State Senator Steve Smith says the unemployed are fortunate to live in a country where there are programs to help people survive when they're looking for work.

He says the least applicants should do is prove they're of "sound mind to get a job."

Supporters of these drug tests say businesses shouldn't have to subsidize illegal activity. They suggest that workers could also increase their chances of getting hired if they prove they're drug-free.

But critics say drug testing is costly - that it could cost millions for states to administer. They also say drug tests stigmatize the jobless as drug addicts.

Arizona could also run into some resistance here. That's because Congress has left it up to the labor department to determine how many unemployment applicants get drug tests.

Here’s my question to you: Should applicants for jobless benefits have to pass a drug test?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

Would you want to be a member of Congress? Some of them say the job sucks.
March 8th, 2012
03:42 PM ET

Would you want to be a member of Congress? Some of them say the job sucks.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Pity our poor Congress.

With many members of Congress calling it quits this year - some say it's because the job just sucks.

Politico reports that lawmakers young and old are leaving public service for the private sector because "the thrill is gone."

They say it's just too hard to get things done with the gridlock in Washington.

Republican Senator Olympia Snowe made a splash with news of her retirement - highlighting the "dysfunction and political polarization" of the Senate.

Democratic Congressman Barney Frank has said he was frustrated because the public no longer tolerates deal making.

Retiring four-term Oklahoma Democrat Congressman Dan Boren tells Politico, "I'm used to being a player. You want to get things done for your constituents. If you can't ever become speaker or a committee chairman, why are you doing it?"

For some lifers the job just isn't as prestigious as it used to be - plus these days nobody likes them much.

They can't earmark money for constituents, they need to maintain residences in two cities, fundraising is a headache, and a lot of perks have disappeared thanks to ethics rules. Awww…

Oh - and their pay has been frozen for 3 years - at $174,000.

Not quite a hardship for millions of Americans dealing with extended high unemployment, soaring gas prices and plummeting home values.

Want more?

Other lawmakers cite the constant media presence in the era of blogs, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. They worry about having any little thing they do or say splashed on the Internet.

Here’s my question to you: Would you want to be a member of Congress? Some of them say the job sucks.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Why is Mitt Romney so popular with senior citizens?
March 8th, 2012
03:41 PM ET

Why is Mitt Romney so popular with senior citizens?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

While Mitt Romney may have issues with conservatives, independents and the South, there's at least one group, beside the very rich, that loves him: senior citizens.

Michelle Cottle writes for The Daily Beast about Romney's surge among seniors:

"The bulk of the American electorate may not consider mittens scintillating, but the 65-plus set clearly finds him pretty darn charming."

Exit polls from Super Tuesday show voters 65 and older were among Romney's staunchest supporters. In the crucial state of Ohio, he beat Rick Santorum in this age group by 15-points. Even in Tennessee, where Romney lost, he still won seniors.

Seniors were also key to Romney's earlier victories in Michigan, Nevada and Florida - and they were the only age group he won in Iowa.

Looking beyond the national nightmare of the Republican primaries, senior voters are the only age group where Romney outpolls President Obama.

Experts say the old folks like Romney because he focuses on things they care about - like the economy.

Also, they like the fact that Romney is generally more moderate in a field that keeps moving further to the right.

Even some of Romney's more awkward moments - like singing "America the Beautiful" - play well to the plus-65 crowd. Perhaps some of them couldn't hear it.

If he's going to be the next president, he has to pick up broader support among other voting blocs.

But remember this: on election day, seniors vote - maybe more than any other group. Gives them something to do that day.

Here’s my question to you: Why is Mitt Romney so popular with senior citizens?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney
Is a second term becoming inevitable for President Obama?
March 7th, 2012
03:29 PM ET

Is a second term becoming inevitable for President Obama?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's no such thing as a "sure thing" in politics, but it seems increasingly likely that President Obama is on his way to winning a second term.

The biggest factor working in the president's favor might be the Republicans.

In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken before Super Tuesday, only one in 10 adults said the GOP primary has given them a more favorable impression of the Republican Party. People used words like "unenthusiastic," "lesser of two evils," "painful," "uninspiring" and "depressed" to describe the GOP nominating process.

This may partly be why Obama's approval rating has been rising, hitting 50% in our latest poll. The president also tops Mitt Romney in hypothetical matchups.

The remarkably accurate online prediction InTrade puts Obama's chances of being re-elected at 60%.

But it's not just the Republican carnival that's helping the president. The economy is slowly starting to improve. That's huge. And, despite yesterday's sell-off, the stock market has been headed up. Experts say stock prices are rising on growing expectations that the president will win re-election.

Many Republicans see the writing on the wall. Big Republican donors and strategists are turning their attention to congressional races.

They apparently think they have better chances of winning races in the House and Senate than unseating the incumbent Democratic president. It's looking more and more like they might be right.

Here’s my question to you: Is a second term becoming inevitable for President Obama?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm 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.

Why can't Mitt Romney seal the deal?
March 7th, 2012
03:01 PM ET

Why can't Mitt Romney seal the deal?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It was all there for the taking, but once again Mitt Romney came up a little short.

Romney's inability to score a knockout on Super Tuesday means the Republican blood bath continues - much to the delight of President Obama and the Democrats.

Romney scored a key victory over Rick Santorum in Ohio and won five other states as well, but his losses were far more telling.

For starters, the former Massachusetts governor has problems in the South, where he couldn't top 28% in any of the contested states. He lost both Georgia and Tennessee.

And as we've seen from the start, Romney has serious issues with the base. Some will never see him as a true conservative. They'd rather back Santorum, who is still fighting the culture wars - talking about birth control, religion and how JFK's stance on the separation of church and state made him want to vomit.

Independents are another sore spot for Romney. One poll shows his unfavorable ratings 16-points higher than his favorable ratings among them.

CNN's Howard Kurtz writes in The Daily Beast that there's something distinctly unimpressive about Romney's performance against Santorum - an underfunded former U.S. Senator who lost his last re-election bid by 18-points.

Kurtz says Romney, "projects competence but does not inspire."

Romney is still the party's likely nominee, but it could take a couple more months to wrap it up.

By the way, there is no way Gingrich, Santorum or Paul is going to be the next president. So isn't it past time for them to put their party ahead of themselves and drop out? Apparently not.

Here’s my question to you: Why can't Mitt Romney seal the deal?

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.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • GOP Ticket • Mitt Romney • Republican Party • Republicans
When it comes to being elected president, is it better to be lucky than good?
March 6th, 2012
03:18 PM ET

When it comes to being elected president, is it better to be lucky than good?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

There's a saying that goes "it's better to be lucky than good."

Turns out it might even apply to presidential politics.

Take President Obama. A few weeks ago, it seemed that re-election could be a real uphill struggle. A weakened economy, extended high unemployment, a failure to deliver on some of his major campaign promises - the polls indicated that the public wasn't as enamored with the president as it once was.

And then the Republicans started their primaries. They've turned out to be a gift to Obama.

Mitt Romney was expecting a coronation. Instead, he's spent months in a mud fight with the likes of Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and now Rick Santorum.

Even if Romney wins the nomination - and it looks like he will - he'll enter the general election bloodied. At the same time, the tide has started to turn for the president.

In a Politico piece called "Obama Luckiest in his Enemies," Roger Simon writes that a presidential candidate needs luck more than anything. Simon says Obama has gotten very lucky.

Rush Limbaugh went on the radio and called a Georgetown law student a "slut" and "prostitute" for her position on birth control.

About two dozen advertisers - including AOL - have pulled their ads from "The Rush Limbaugh Show." Two radio stations have taken him off the air, and there may be more to follow.

The biggest gift to Obama? Limbaugh's comments and the pathetic response by the Republicans could drive women away from the party.

Of course, luck can come and go.

Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm 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.

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Filed under: 2012 Election
Will Super Tuesday clarify the GOP situation or further confuse things?
March 5th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Will Super Tuesday clarify the GOP situation or further confuse things?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Super Tuesday may finally bring some clarity to the messy Republican Primary race. Or not.

Mitt Romney could be able to wind this thing down with a strong showing in tomorrow's 10 races.

For starters, he's racking up endorsements from influential conservatives - a sign that the party is ready to rally around him.

Today - former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft threw his support behind Romney.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn - both fiscal conservatives - are backing him too.

Romney is also sitting back on top of the national polls.

But to capitalize on all this momentum, he needs to deliver tomorrow.

The biggest prize is Ohio, where Romney is neck-in-neck with Rick Santorum after trailing him by double digits.

A Romney win in Ohio would help consolidate his support among working-class voters in the Rust Belt. However, a Santorum win could mean the race will drag on longer.

Also at play tomorrow are a couple of Southern states. If Romney manages to win in Tennessee or Georgia, it would give him a big boost.

Newt Gingrich is staking the future of his campaign on Georgia, his home state.

As for Ron Paul - he acknowledges his chances are slim but he seems to be in it for the long haul.

Meanwhile top Republicans are spreading the message that a long nomination battle could weaken their chances of defeating President Obama come November.

But as we've seen since the first contests back in January, Republican voters are capable of surprising everybody - including themselves.

Here’s my question to you: Will Super Tuesday clarify the GOP situation or further confuse things?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • GOP Ticket • Republican Party • Super Tuesday
Is your personal economy improving?
March 5th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Is your personal economy improving?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Four in 10 Americans say the U.S. economy is growing.

That's up from 27% last April and just 3% in 2008.

The flip side of the new USA Today/Gallup Poll is that 46% say the economy is in a recession or a depression.

But the survey definitely suggests a growing optimism about the economy.

It's reflected among both men and women and among all age groups, regions of the country and political parties.

However, politics still does play a role here: Democrats, nonwhites and self-described liberals are the most likely to believe the economy is growing.

Republicans and conservatives are the least likely to see the glass half full.

In what might be a sign of concern for President Obama, about half of independents say we're in a recession or depression.

There are several factors causing concern for many Americans when it comes to their "personal economy."

For starters, the housing market – the biggest asset for many – is still in trouble.

Home prices recently fell to their lowest point in more than a decade.

Then there are surging gasoline prices, which affect nearly everyone.

AAA reports gas prices hit a national average of $3.77 a gallon, up for the 27th day in a row. In several states, gas is already at or near $4 a gallon.

Some economists worry that high gas prices could be the tipping point that brings a new economic downturn.

Here’s my question to you: Is your personal economy improving?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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