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How much does it matter if you like a candidate for president?
May 9th, 2012
04:07 PM ET

How much does it matter if you like a candidate for president?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Voters "like" Barack Obama more than they "like" Mitt Romney - and that might be all it takes to decide the outcome of the election.

A new USA Today/Gallup Poll shows 60% of registered voters say that President Obama is likable. That's nearly double the 31% who feel that way about Romney.

Even among crucial independent voters, the president holds a double-digit edge.

So despite the fact polls show Romney and President Obama in a dead heat both nationally and in key battleground states - Mitt Romney is facing a huge likability gap here.

And it could cost him.

Consider this: In each of the last five presidential elections, the candidate the voters "liked" the most won.

When you put all the other issues aside, a lot of people vote for the guy who does a better job connecting with them on a personal level.

In 2004, polls famously showed undecided voters would rather have a beer with George W. Bush than John Kerry; and swing voters found Bush to be more of a "real person" than Kerry.

As for Romney, pollsters say this likability deficit presents a challenge for his campaign as it tries to shape his image.

They can either work on making voters see Romney as more likable or they can give up on likability and try to emphasize other areas where Romney is stronger than President Obama.

For now it doesn't look like Romney is hurting too badly on this issue since he's neck-and-neck with the president.

But he might be doing even better if he hadn't tied his dog to the roof of his car.

Here’s my question to you: How much does it matter if you like a candidate for president?

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
Where is the U.S. headed if 42% of us are obese by 2030?
May 8th, 2012
03:41 PM ET

Where is the U.S. headed if 42% of us are obese by 2030?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A dramatic warning about just how fat Americans are getting: By 2030, 42% of people in the United States will be obese. Yes, 42%.

According to a new study, 11% of them will be severely obese, meaning that they are 100 or more pounds over a healthy weight.

Already in 2010, 36% of adults are obese, or roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight, and 6% are severely obese.

If the obesity rate increases as predicted, it could mean we'd have more than 100 million obese people in the U.S. in just 18 years.

The numbers are staggering, and they come with a huge price tag.

This report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests the increase in obesity would cost an additional $550 billion from now until 2030 in medical expenditures.

It's estimated an obese person costs at least $1,400 more in medical expenses per year than someone who has a healthy weight.

Carrying around all that fat increases your risk for many other diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, several types of cancer and sleep apnea, not to mention a shorter life expectancy.

Obesity is one of the biggest reasons why health care spending has been skyrocketing in the last 20 years.

The report’s authors say we have an environment in the U.S. that promotes obesity, with fast-food chains, cheap junk food and technologies, like the Internet, that keep people sitting at home and at their offices all day long.

Meanwhile, this study doesn't even address children. Currently, one out of every three children in the United States is obese or overweight.

Here’s my question to you: Where is the U.S. headed if 42% of us are obese by 2030?

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: Obesity • On Jack's radar
Why do negative campaign ads work?
This is a screengrab from an anti-Romney ad that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees aired in Florida, accusing him of making a $473,000 profit from his firm's investments in a medical company that admitted engaging in Medicare fraud.
May 8th, 2012
03:33 PM ET

Why do negative campaign ads work?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When it comes to presidential campaign ads - it's already ugly out there. Very ugly.

A new study shows negative campaign ads in the race for the White House have skyrocketed since 2008.

According to the Wesleyan Media Project, 70% of presidential campaign commercials run so far have been negative. 70%. That compares to just 9% at this point in the 2008 campaign.

Experts say part of the reason for all this negativity is the "skyrocketing involvement of interest groups." Their activity is up 1,100% from four years ago. But it's not just the interest groups that are going negative. The campaigns are also to blame.

The study shows more than half of the ads put out by the campaigns have been negative, as well as 86% of the commercials put out by independent groups, like Super Pacs. That's a lot of trash talking.

These groups are dominating the airwaves, accounting for about 60% of commercials. The campaigns account for just 36% of the spots. Compare that to 2008 when virtually all of the ads in the White House race - 96% - came from campaigns.

We have the Supreme Court to thank for the outsized role of outside groups. The 2010 Citizens United decision allows for unlimited donations by corporations as long as they're made to groups independent of the candidate. Like Super Pacs.

Meanwhile with six months to go until the election, get ready for an onslaught of negative ads from both sides.

That's because even though voters say they don't like negative campaigning, the ads are effective. Experts say negative ads tap into emotions like anxiety, fear and disgust - that can push a voter away from a candidate.

Here’s my question to you: Why do negative campaign ads work?

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
How much has America's first black president changed race relations?
May 7th, 2012
03:35 PM ET

How much has America's first black president changed race relations?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Despite the election of America's first black president more than three years ago, the nation still has a long road to travel when it comes to race relations.

The New York Times reports that race remains a powerful factor among a small minority of voters - particularly in poor areas with a lot of white working-class people.

That includes places in the battleground state of Ohio, where a few votes could make a big difference.

In 50 interviews in one such Ohio county, five people raised race directly as a reason they will not vote for President Obama. Some of them said the only reason the president won in 2008 is because many blacks voted for the first time.

Others didn't mention race directly, but indirectly hinted at suspicions of Obama's background and faith.

The president recently described race in America as still "complicated." He says he never bought into the idea that the country was entering a post-racial period by electing him.

Maybe so - but a lot of people did. More than half of Americans in 2008 said that race relations would improve as a result of Obama's election.

Fast forward to 2012 and that view has changed dramatically.

A recent Newsweek poll shows only 32% believe race relations have improved under President Obama, while nearly 60% say race relations have either stayed the same or gotten worse. Whites are especially critical of Obama in this department.

Some suggest racism surfaces during tough times like the recession, high unemployment or the wars overseas - and can serve as an excuse for social anxieties.

Here’s my question to you: How much has America's first black president changed race relations?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

What issue(s) will ultimately decide the presidential election?
May 3rd, 2012
03:35 PM ET

What issue(s) will ultimately decide the presidential election?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's shaping up to be a tight race this November between President Obama and Mitt Romney, especially in some of the crucial swing states.

And new polls show romney closing in on the president in both Florida and Ohio.

The Quinnipiac Poll shows Romney up by one point in Florida: 44-to-43 - and the president up by two in Ohio: 44-to-42. Both are within the sampling error.

In Pennsylvania, President Obama has widened his lead to eight points: 47-to-39

Keep in mind: No one has won the White House since 1960 without carrying at least two of these three states.

Pollsters say some of Romney's gains come from voter perception that he is as good as - or better than - President Obama at fixing the economy.

And it's no secret that for millions of Americans, the economy will be far-and-away issue #1 come November.

A recent Pew Poll shows an overwhelming 86% of registered voters say the economy will be "very important" to their vote, while 84% cite jobs.

According to this poll, other top issues include the budget deficit, health care, education, medicare, energy and taxes.

At the bottom of this list come issues like immigration, abortion, birth control and gay marriage.

It would be a nice change if the politicians took note and stayed away from the wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage this year and instead talked about what really concerns most people.

Meanwhile there are two key Supreme Court decisions due in June which could throw the national focus back on health care and immigration.

Here’s my question to you: What issue(s) will ultimately decide the presidential election?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election
What does it mean when one in seven people think the end of the world is coming?
Xunantunich Mayan Temple in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize
May 3rd, 2012
03:32 PM ET

What does it mean when one in seven people think the end of the world is coming?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's the end of the world as we know it - at least for one in seven people worldwide.

A new poll conducted for Reuters shows nearly 15% of people believe the world will end during their lifetime.

And 10% think the end could come as soon as this year - that's based on the end of the 5,100-year-old Mayan calendar that arrives on December 21, 2012.

Pollsters questioned more than 16,000 people in more than 20 countries. It turns out predictions of doom and gloom vary widely depending on where you live.

Only 6% of the French and 8% of the British fear Armageddon in their lifetime compared to 22% in Turkey and right here in the United States.

The Russians and the Poles were most likely to fear the end of the world as coming this year.

Experts say people under 35 and those with lower education or income are more likely to believe in an Apocalypse. Perhaps it’s because those over 35 have lived long enough not to worry about it.

Meanwhile, there have been many End of Days predictions over the years coming from the Chinese, the Egyptians, Native Americans, the Irish, etc.

But for some reason this Mayan Doomsday prediction has attracted millions, maybe even billions, of believers. Hundreds of thousands of websites have popped up devoted to the end-of-the-world fears.

However, experts - including NASA - say there's nothing to it and compare it to the Y2K scare which turned out to be much ado about nothing.

Here’s my question to you: What does it mean when one in seven people think the end of the world is coming?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: On Jack's radar
Where's the leadership?
May 2nd, 2012
02:34 PM ET

Where's the leadership?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The dysfunctional disaster that is Washington will only get worse after November's election.

Moderates are quickly becoming extinct - with Congressional Democrats and Republicans who represent the middle heading for the exits.

Politico reports on a study by political scientists that shows Congress is more polarized than at any time since reconstruction.

The sad part is our current political environment encourages the extremes: 24/7 cable news, Super Pac money, interest groups, activist blogs - they all cater to ideologues.

The big losers here: The American people. With the two parties too busy fighting to offer any real solutions to what's looming on the horizon.

And don't kid yourself - we're in trouble.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is warning Congress that the Fed won't be able to undo the damage to the economy if lawmakers mismanage the fiscal cliff.

This so-called fiscal cliff represents $7 trillion worth of tax increases and spending cuts that will be triggered by year's end - if Congress doesn't act.
$7 trillion.

None of this will get addressed until after the election; at which point there will only be a few weeks to try to do something before the triggers kick in.

And then there's President Obama, who seems content to whistle past the graveyard while trying to get re-elected.

Mr. Obama is ignoring the big issues– from deficit reduction to Medicare, Social Security and government spending.

Instead the president is majoring in the minors - focusing on smaller, and more politically popular, things like the Buffett Rule, student loan rates and oil speculators.

It may help him win votes, but the country is on a collision course with disaster.

Here’s my question to you: Where's the leadership?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: On Jack's radar
President Obama in Afghanistan: foreign policy or campaign stop?
May 2nd, 2012
02:33 PM ET

President Obama in Afghanistan: foreign policy or campaign stop?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It was masterfully done, the result of political instincts seldom seen except in Chicago.

But it was also blatantly transparent.

If President Obama had simply gone to Afghanistan to sign the document with Hamid Karzai, give the troops a pep talk and address the nation on winding down the war there - the rest of it would likely have taken care of itself.

But the chest pounding over killing Osama bin Laden that preceded the trip, the use of Navy SEALS as chips in a sinister game of political poker, the questioning of whether Mitt Romney would have made the same call if given the chance to take down the Al Qaeda leader, cheapened the whole thing.

There's a difference between classy and cheesy, and this came off as cheesy to the max.

After telling the country "You don't spike the football," you come off as a hypocrite when you go out of your way to spike the football.

And as far as winding down things in Afghanistan, where we have been spending somewhere around $2 billion a week for years. That's very much an open question.

The document Karzai and Obama signed was an agreement to work on an agreement to keep an American presence in that sand pile until 2024. For what?

The Karzai government is corrupt, and can barely stand us. Look at the Afghan leader's body language with Obama.

The rest of the country is a tribal sewer that for thousands of years has been a no man's land for invading armies - and we want to remain there for another decade?

I don't get it. And 72% of Americans don't get it either. They want us out of Afghanistan.

In the end, I'm not sure President Obama didn't do himself more harm than good with this little stunt.

Here’s my question to you: President Obama in Afghanistan: foreign policy or campaign stop?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

Do you feel any safer from terrorism one year after the death of Osama bin Laden?
May 1st, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Do you feel any safer from terrorism one year after the death of Osama bin Laden?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As President Obama celebrates the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death in Afghanistan, security is reportedly being stepped up at airports overseas.

The Department of Homeland Security says there are "no specific, credible threats or plots" against the United States at this time, but apparently there is some cause for concern.

ABC News reports that officials fear al Qaeda may soon try to explode aircraft bound for the United States with so-called "body bombs."

They worry terrorists might ingest explosives and then try to detonate them on a commercial flight. ABC reports this is why security has been increased at some airports in Europe and the Middle East and the United States has sent more federal air marshals overseas.

If you've been through airport security recently in this country, you might think bin Laden was somewhere on the concourse.

The Transportation Security Administration has come under fire for aggressive behavior toward passengers, including a 7-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, who walks with leg braces and crutches, and a 4-year-old girl who started crying hysterically. Parents say the TSA is treating these children like terrorists.

There were also reports over the winter of TSA agents asking elderly passengers in wheelchairs to lift their clothing to show medical devices like colostomy bags.

Meanwhile, it seems like the fear of terrorism has all but disappeared a year after bin Laden's death and more than 10 years after the 9/11 attacks.

A recent CNN/ORC International Poll shows only 2% of Americans say terrorism is the most important issue facing the country today.

Here’s my question to you: Do you feel any safer from terrorism one year after the death of Osama bin Laden?

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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