The American Staff

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Purple People Watch

Florida. Florida is dead even at 48 percent to 48 percent, according to Monday's Zogby poll, an improvement from John Kerry's showing last week, and there are signs that the Democrats' strategy of trying to appeal to younger Cuban Americans is paying dividends. According to a summer poll released by the New Democrat Network, which has launched a massive Latino outreach program, George W. Bush leads among Cuban Americans by a margin of 70 percent to 19 percent, with 11 percent undecided. That sounds pretty good for the incumbent, but it's significantly less than the 82 percent of the vote he captured in 2000.

Devil in the Details

Minimal Monitors

Thorough election monitoring is a staple in countries recovering from long periods of civil strife. In post-conflict zones such as Bosnia, East Timor, and Haiti, large numbers of foreign experts and trained local monitors have been instrumental in granting legitimacy to the election results, thereby helping those nations' transition to democracy.

Purple People Watch

Florida. Bad news for Floridians this week as yet another storm pounds the erstwhile Sunshine State. Bad news, too, for John Kerry as the Republican chief of the state's Division of Elections announced that Hurricane Ivan could be used as a pretext for putting Ralph Nader on the presidential ballot despite a court order to keep him off. In other bad news, a September 14 Survey USA poll is giving George W. Bush a pretty substantial 51 percent to 45 percent lead. Last but not least, the president seems to have found yet another way to pander to hard-line anti-Castro Cuban exiles: going soft on terrorism.

Purple People Watch

INDIANA. This is a race worth watching, thanks in part to a quirky cast of characters and the Hoosiers' unpredictable voting patterns. Will they keep a Democratic governor and vote for a Republican president? That's what happened in 2000. That governor, Frank O'Bannon, suffered a massive stroke and died last September while visiting Chicago. His popular lieutenant governor, Joe Kernan, had already decided to leave politics; at the time, there was talk of him buying a minor league baseball team in his hometown of South Bend. But O'Bannon's death changed all that, and Kernan eventually changed his mind and announced his candidacy for the Democratic ticket.