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US midterms sparking interest - for some

"I didn't know Barack Obama was a Muslim, not that I have anything against Muslims, it was just bought to my attention."That what the waitress at Hooters bar in Miami told NZPA last night.It would be easy to write off the opinion of 19-year-old

NZPA
Mon, 01 Nov 2010

"I didn't know Barack Obama was a Muslim, not that I have anything against Muslims, it was just bought to my attention."

That what the waitress at Hooters bar in Miami told NZPA last night.

It would be easy to write off the opinion of 19-year-old waitress Abi Perez, but the smart and articulate business student only works in the tacky bar to make money for her education.

That President Obama is not a Muslim, and is a United States citizen, are facts that his opponents are trying to blur as the nation heads to the polls on November 2 for the midterm elections. These are held halfway through a president's term and are seen as a referendum on their performance, and this year is no different.

Usually people aren't really engaged in the midterms, the enthusiasm just isn't the same for electing a president. But this year, because of the incredibly high expectations raised, there is great interest in the midterms where the Republicans are expected to take majority of the House of Representatives and make inroads into the Congress's other house, the Senate.

The Miami Herald reported that in Florida a large number of people have voted early and from out of their electorates, leading to predictions of a high turn out.

The early vote count until yesterday was 774,911, more than double the 397,000 early ballots cast in the last midterm election in 2006.

Florida has 11.2 million registered voters but Ms Perez is not one of them.

She talks about election ads where a "guy with white hair" makes an allegation against an opponent and the next minute that man appears calling the first speaker a liar.

"I'm not registered to vote... I don't want to go and vote for someone I don't know about."

Chauffeur Gustavo Gomez, a 47-year-old father of two, knows all about the midterms but is also unimpressed.

"They promise a lot and they really don't give anything. I don't trust them."

If he votes; "I am going to close my eyes and pick one."

The intense negative campaigning has turned him off and he see politics like a childish playground fight.

Born in Cuba and raised in Atlanta, Georgia the "red-neck Cuban" he jokingly calls himself, is representative of the diversity of Florida.

According to the statistics, his views on the election are not so typical.

However, of the dozen people NZPA stopped to ask about the elections none were intending to vote and the only people who seem engaged were the ones waving banners and flags at the rallies.

NZPA
Mon, 01 Nov 2010
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US midterms sparking interest - for some
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