Signs and Wonders
Mourdock (left) and Lugar at their primary debate in April
Associated Press/Photo by Photo by Darron Cummings (pool)
Mourdock (left) and Lugar at their primary debate in April

Signs and Wonders 10.22

Newsworthy

Hoosier huff. In Indiana, conservative Richard Mourdock beat Republican incumbent Richard Lugar in the GOP U.S. Senate primary, and that caused some bad blood. So much bad blood, in fact, that Lugar has refused to endorse Mourdock. Lugar’s sour grapes are hurting Mourdock’s chances. Lugar likely doesn’t care about that. What GOP insiders hope Lugar does care about is how he is damaging his own legacy. Until now, Lugar could take much of the credit for building the Indiana Republican Party, first as mayor of Indianapolis in the 1960s and ’70s, and then as a senator. But now his stubbornness is threatening to split the party, giving a Democrat a real chance to win a seat that should be safely Republican. Lugar’s best bet is to endorse Mourdock, however reluctantly. If he doesn’t, and Democrat Joe Donnelly wins, Lugar will get the blame. If Lugar doesn’t endorse Mourdock and he wins anyway, Lugar’s irrelevance will be made plain for all the world to see. According to the latest polls, the race is close, but Mourdock is up 3 to 5 points.

Missouri breaks. In another closely watched Senate race, Republican Todd Akin fights gamely on against Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri. This seat, you likely remember, was solidly GOP until Akin’s comments about rape and abortion. The Republican establishment abandoned him and he immediately went down in the polls, trailing by as much as 10 points in an August Rasmussen poll. But he’s fought back. Akin still trails, but some polls show him inside the margin of error. If he keeps working it, he doesn’t make any more rookie mistakes, and he can catch a break, he might just pull this race out.

Silver-ado. Gov. Mitt Romney is surging in the polls, so why is political blogger Nate Silver saying President Barack Obama’s chances of winning are now at 68 percent, and why does anyone care? Silver’s influential blog FiveThirtyEight called the national election and 49 of 50 states in 2008—missing only Indiana. He also correctly predicted the winner of all 35 Senate races. He uses a sophisticated model and expresses his results in percentages. The secret to his model is separating those factors that matter from those that don’t. He says it’s the difference between hearing “the signal and the noise,” which also happens to be the title of his new book. The good news for Romney backers: Silver does change his predictions as new data come in, so stay tuned.

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Stock jitters. Last Friday’s big drop in the markets is causing jitters on Wall Street this week. Expectations for third-quarter earnings were already low, and companies are having trouble meeting even these low expectations. The pace of earnings reports will accelerate this week, with eight of the 30 Dow components and 155 S&P 500 companies scheduled to release results. Tech heavyweight Apple Inc. will be among them.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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