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Q&A: Times election recommendations and voters' choices

Recommendations and results

I would like to know how many political candidates that were endorsed by the Times won their races.

We asked Tim Nickens, St. Petersburg Times editor of editorials, to address part of your question. He writes: "The goal is not to pick the winners of elections — although if we did I suspect our batting average would be pretty good. The goal is to recommend candidates the board feels are best prepared to serve in public office and best reflect our priorities for public policy, such as a strong education system, environmental protections, access to health care, managed growth, sound tax policy, etc.

"And keep in mind that the recommendations are based on the field in a given race. All too often, voters are not thrilled with their choices and the editorial board isn't either."

We'd like to add that the seven-member Times editorial board interviews nearly every candidate and researches their past actions and positions, then meets to make a recommendation. Those choices are then published, and that list ran frequently on the second editorial page under the heading, "Times recommendations for the general election."

In 2010, the Times made recommendations in 63 general election issues, ranging from senator to retention of judges to changes in county charters. In 37 of those races, the Times recommendation matched the voters' choices.

Of the 10 highest-profile races (statewide and congressional races), the Times and voters agreed on six, differing on the U.S. Senate, governor, attorney general and U.S. House District 12.

Social Security and retirement

I see we have yet another "bipartisan" commission looking at ways to reduce the budget. When was the last time the age for retiring with full Social Security benefits was raised?

The full retirement age was 65 until 1983. That's when the National Commission on Social Security Reform's recommendations went into effect, raising the full retirement age to 66 for those born between 1945 and 1954, and 67 for those born after 1960. Those born between 1954 and 1960 have two months added to full retirement age for every year.

President Barack Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction panel, headed by Erskine Bowles, former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton, and Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming, released a series of proposals this month as a starting point for discussion.

Among them: raising the age for retiring with full Social Security benefits. The proposal would bump that age one month every two years after it reaches 67 under current law. That would take the retirement age to 68 by about 2050 and 69 by about 2075.

Also proposed: gradually raising the early retirement age, when people can start receiving partial Social Security benefits, from 62 to 64.

Q&A: Times election recommendations and voters' choices 11/21/10 [Last modified: Sunday, November 21, 2010 1:44pm]
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