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8 posts from October 14, 2012

October 14, 2012

PPP FL poll: Romney 49- Obama 48 (a 5-point Romney gain)

From Public Policy Polling, a firm that typically surveys for Democrats and liberals (Note: the poll differs from a Miami Herald survey last week, which had a 7-point Mitt Romney lead, although both show a Romney surge):

PPP's newest Florida poll finds a 5 point gain for Mitt Romney over the last three weeks. He now leads Barack Obama by a 49/48 margin, after trailing 50-46 in late September. The shift in the race is largely attributable to independent voters shifting their preferences. Where before Obama had a 51-40 advantage with them, now Romney's taken the lead by a 51/43 spread. When it comes to the biggest issue in the election, the economy, Romney's edge over Obama expands to 51/46 on who voters trust more.

Romney and Obama's images have headed in difference directions since the Presidential debate. Voters have warmed up to Romney a good bit, going from giving him a negative favorability rating at 44/51 to a positive one at 50/47. Meanwhile Obama's approval numbers have gone the other way. Where before he was on positive ground with 51% of voters approving of him to 47% who disapproved, now he's in slightly negative territory at 48/50.

Continue reading "PPP FL poll: Romney 49- Obama 48 (a 5-point Romney gain)" »

With 284,000 Florida votes already in, absentee vote data more critical than polls

As the public focuses on political polls, the campaigns in the nation’s biggest battleground state are concentrating on a more-important set of figures: Absentee-ballot votes.

At least 284,000 people have already cast absentee ballots in Florida over the past week.

The number grows hourly. About 2 million voters have requested the ballots, which are typically mailed.

It’s a sign that we don’t have a single Election Day in Florida.

We have Election Days.

Polls tell us Mitt Romney’s winning in Florida right now. Absentee-vote data show us that’s probably true.

But the numbers also show President Barack Obama’s campaign is closer than ever to matching Republicans in requesting and voting absentee ballots.

“We very much like what we’re seeing in terms of absentee requests,” said David Plouffe, a senior Obama advisor.

Republicans are happy, too.

So it’s good-news, bad-news for both campaigns.

Republicans are winning the absentee-vote race in North Florida, the Naples area and in Miami-Dade County, where nearly 20,000 ballots have already been cast. Democrats are pulling ahead in Central Florida, Tampa Bay’s two biggest counties and in Broward County.

The Republicans lead Democrats when it comes to absentee votes cast, about 126,000 to 114,000. In percentage terms, Republicans lead Democrats 44-40 percent.

And that’s despite the fact that Republicans trail Democrats by 4 percentage points when it comes to active voter registrations: 36-40 percent.

Meantime, a Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll last week showed Romney with a 7 percentage-point lead over Obama. A Florida International University poll, released Monday, shows Romney within striking distance of Obama among likely Hispanic voters, a crucial voting bloc.

Despite all the positive trends for them, Republicans are a little nervous. They’ve always out-organized and outvoted Democrats by absentee ballots — usually by big margins.

But no more.

Relative to this time in the 2008 election, Democrats trailed Republicans by 16 percentage points in voted absentee ballots. That lead has been cut to 4 percentage points this year.

“The Democrats are being smart,” said Brett Doster, a top Florida adviser to Romney. “There has been a concerted effort by the Democrats to pour it on. They know they need to keep up.”

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/14/3050032/in-politics-polls-are-important.html#storylink=cpy

FIU Hispanic FL voter poll: Obama 51- Romney 44

Mitt Romney is closing the gap on President Barack Obama among likely Hispanic Florida voters, a majority of whom say they’re not better off than four years ago, according to a new Florida International University/Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald poll.

Obama is ahead of Romney 51-44 percent among Hispanics, a relatively narrow lead that could spell trouble for a Democratic campaign that’s counting on minority support as non-Hispanic white voters flock to the Republican ticket in droves.

In the rest of the country, however, it’s a different story for Obama when it comes to likely Hispanic voters.

The president wallops Romney 66-31 percent overall across the U.S., according to the poll’s national survey of 1,000 likely Hispanic voters. It was taken Oct. 10-11 along with the 720-voter poll in Florida.

The difference here: Cuban-American voters, who are overwhelmingly Republican and who appear to be increasingly excited about Romney’s campaign.

“What’s remarkable is the demographic split in Florida: Puerto Rican and Dominican and other Hispanic voters trust Obama. Cubans just don’t,” said Eduardo Gamarra, an FIU professor of Latin American studies who conducted the poll with his political research firm, the Newlink Group.

In the national and Florida surveys, Cuban voters consistently gave Obama low marks on handling the economy, immigration and foreign policy. Puerto Rican and Dominican voters said the opposite.

Momentum from Cuban voters could help other Republican candidates on the Florida ballot, particularly in South Florida.

Take out Cuban voters, and Obama wins Florida Hispanics 64 percent to Romney’s 33 percent, according to the poll, which has a 3.6 percent error margin.

Overall, 54 percent of Florida Hispanics said they were not better off than four years ago, compared to 46 percent who said they were. That’s not just a reflection of Cuban sentiment; it’s an indication of Florida’s unemployment rate, which is higher than the nation’s. And Hispanic unemployment is higher still. The number of Hispanic children living in poverty now exceeds the number of non-Hispanic white children, even though Hispanics are a minority.

More here

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/14/3049990/poll-president-barack-obama-holds.html#storylink=cpy

Rep. David Rivera defends himself over federal investigation, plays tape recording of FBI witness

In his first sit down English-language television interview in weeks, U.S. Rep. David Rivera defended himself Sunday against a federal grand-jury investigation into his alleged involvement in a primary campaign against his Democratic opponent.

At one point, Rivera pulled out a black Sony tape recorder and held it up against his lapel microphone to play a recording of what he said was a telephone message from an FBI witness in the case.

The FBI is investigating whether Rivera illegally funneled secret money to Justin Lamar Sternad, who lost in the Aug. 14 primary to Joe Garcia. Garcia now faces Rivera.

“No federal agency has ever stated or confirmed that I am under investigation for anything,” Rivera told WPLG-ABC 10’s Michael Putney on This Week in South Florida.

What Rivera didn’t say: State records show that federal authorities as late as last year were investigating him in a separate matter stemming from a secret $500,000 dog track payment the congressman had arranged.

Rivera had denied at the time that he was even under state investigation or that he had a lawyer. Records showed otherwise.

In the latest investigation, at least two campaign vendors have told The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald that they had been interviewed by federal authorities concerning Sternad’s campaign, which was fueled by tens of thousands of unreported money — much of it cash.

The FBI was scheduled to speak to Ana Sol Alliegro, Sternad’s campaign manager who apparently acted as Sternad’s conduit to Rivera. She disappeared from public view several weeks ago.

A target of a federal investigation is typically not informed of the probe until it is wrapping up or investigators have compiled enough evidence to confront their subject.

When Putney pressed Rivera about his involvement in Sternad’s campaign leading up to the August primary, Rivera tried to discredit vendor Hugh Cochran, who has said Rivera hired his company, Campaign Data, to target voters to receive Sternad fliers.

“Let me play you a little tape from Mr. Cochran, a voice mail that he left with the Miami Herald reporter that is involved in running this story,” Rivera said. “Just so you know Mr. Cochran’s agenda.”

In Miami-Dade commission race, an ongoing debate over new Marlins ballpark

Bruno Barreiro chaired the Miami-Dade County Commission when it signed off on a new, mostly publicly funded Marlins ballpark in the heart of his Little Havana district. And now that he's seeking reelection, he has been forced to defend it.

He has been doing so, staunchly.

"We might have been able to get a little bit better deal, but it still had to be substantially funded from the public sector," he told WPLG-ABC 10 political reporter Michael Putney on Sunday on This Week in South Florida. "Obviously, this had to be a public-private enterprise." (See video of the debate here, beginning around the 20-minute mark.)

On the same show, his opponent, state Rep. Luis Garcia, called the stadium "a monument to mediocrity." The ballpark, he said, came "at the expense of the money that was earmarked to redo the convention center on Miami Beach."

Public money covered more than 80 percent of the stadium and parking garages, which cost about $634 million. The county spent some $376 million, the city of Miami $133 million and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria $125 million.

Garcia, a former Miami Beach city commissioner, has been hammering on the stadium since the Aug. 14 primary. Barreiro was nine votes from avoiding a Nov. 6 runoff. In a Spanish-language radio ad, Garcia touts opposing the stadium project. "Let's vote to restore our trust in government," the ad says.

On Sunday, Barreiro fought back saying Garcia in 2007 voted for a bill in the Florida Legislature (HB 323) that would have provided the Marlins with $2 million in annual sales tax revenue.

Continue reading "In Miami-Dade commission race, an ongoing debate over new Marlins ballpark" »

Amendment 4 offers tax breaks for some, big revenue drain for local governments

It is the longest of the 11 amendments on Florida’s longest-ever ballot, and its multi-billion dollar impact could mean major tax relief for first-time homebuyers, owners of second homes, small businesses and, especially, large corporations. But it could also mean higher taxes for Florida residents and massive cuts to struggling local governments.

As voters decide whether to vote up or down on Amendment 4, hanging in the balance could be a few hundred dollars in tax cuts for the average new homebuyer, and as much as $600,000 in tax breaks for multimillion-dollar properties like the famed Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach.

Proponents of Amendment 4 argue it will create thousands of new jobs while reinvigorating the state’s troubled housing market and saving homeowners millions of dollars.

Opponents paint a much grimmer picture: Full-time Floridians shouldering the tax burden of snowbirds and corporations, while governments are forced to make bone-deep cuts to social services.

“It will definitely mean cuts to services, unless [local officials] raise the millage rates,” said Jack McCabe, CEO of McCabe Research & Consulting, a real estate firm in Deerfield Beach. McCabe said he is in favor of property tax reform and efforts to revive the housing market, but called Amendment 4 a “patch job” that will shift tax costs from businesses onto long-time homeowners.

Florida voters will ultimately decide, as the amendment — along with 10 others on this year’s lengthy ballot — requires a 60 percent margin to make it into the Constitution.

Read more here


The untold story of the Cuban Missile Crisis: Fidel's secret nukes

The Cuban Missile Crisis had just ended, with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s promise to President John F. Kennedy on Oct. 28 1962 that he was withdrawing his strategic nuclear weapons from the island.

But nearly 100 smaller Soviet nuclear warheads were also in Cuba, unknown to the U.S. government at the time and for decades into the future.

Fidel Castro wanted desperately to keep them.

Had Castro prevailed, Cuba would have become a nuclear power. And if Kennedy had known that Khrushchev had all but lied on Oct. 28, the hawks in Washington might have won their push for an all-out U.S. invasion of the island.

Instead, Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Anastas Mikoyan, sensing that the “hothead” Castro could not be trusted with any nuclear weapons, got them out of Cuba after telling him that Soviet law did not permit the transfer of nuclear weapons to other countries. More from Juan Tamayo here.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/13/3049063/secret-nukes-the-untold-story.html#storylink=cpy

Florida's absentee ballots: easy to cast, open to fraud

With a relentless barrage of phone calls, mailers and targeted ads, local and statewide campaigns are now aggressively pursuing absentee voters — the most valued of voters, and the most vulnerable.

Absentee voters, who submit their ballots by mail, make up an ever-increasing share of the Florida electorate — the result of relaxed voting laws and aggressive campaign strategies. In the coming election, as many as one in four Florida voters will cast their ballots from home instead of a voting booth.

In Miami-Dade County, the share of absentee voters this fall could be even higher: Already more than 208,000 absentee ballots have been mailed to Miami-Dade voters since Oct. 5.

In the primary election in August, almost 40 percent of the votes cast in Miami-Dade were absentee. In some precincts in Hialeah and Sweetwater, as many as two-thirds of the votes were cast by mail, records show.

“If you do not work absentee ballots you will not have a successful campaign,” said political consultant Sasha Tirador, who represented several local candidates in the Aug. 14 primary.

That primary also showed the dangers of absentee voting: Miami-Dade police arrested two boleteros, or ballot-brokers, on charges of altering ballots of elderly or disabled voters. The ballot-brokers are also accused of collecting almost 200 ballots from Hialeah voters, violating a local ordinance limiting possession of multiple ballots. More from Scott Hiassen here.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/13/3047408/absentee-ballots-easy-to-cast.html#storylink=cpyMore from The Miami Herald's Scott Hiaasen here.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/13/3047408/absentee-ballots-easy-to-cast.html#storylink=cpy