Who's worried on D-Day?

This article is from a Labour supporters' site. Funnily enough, the BBC looks like it's going to cock up the exit poll like in 1992 ("Labour is going to win!") 

I'm not assuming anything. How the terrorist attacks will affect voting is unclear.

BTW, I was handed a leaflet outside Whitechapel station telling Muslims it was immoral to vote (the argument is that voting for a man is putting faith in a being other than Allah/God). At first I assumed it was the Lib Dems (they've done this sort of thing before in the same area). It's too clever for the BNP.

The point is that terrorists might intimidate some Muslim voters not to vote. Which would be a disgrace.

On the other hand, how much flak does Mrs May get for being Home Secretary and Prime Minister while the security apparatus fails repeatedly to prevent attacks, despite draconian powers.

Anyhow, we shall see.


Who's going to win?

THE U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION on Tuesday November 6th will be won with a convincing electoral college majority. At least 70 votes.

That's my conclusion of poring over the polls, listening to what people are enthusiastic/despondent about, looking at where the money and candidates are being used.

The problem is, I'm not sure WHO is going to win by at least 70 electoral college votes.

The reason for this is that the polling data looks open to very different interpretation, depending on how one sees the last presidential election (which was won in convincing fashion by the then Senator for Illinois Barack Obama) in 2008.


If Obamacare loses, Obama wins?

It's premature to assume that the tough questioning by US Supreme Court justices will translate into a ruling that the Obamacare "individual mandate" is unconstitutional.

For what it's worth, the prediction markets at Intrade suggest a 60% chance of a negative outcome for the Obama administration (price at time of drafting this post).

What is perhaps more interesting, and will fuel conspiracy theories, is the effect on President Obama's re-election chances. They're creeping up (heading towards the 60% mark). Some people seem to think that if the Republicans win both the Senate and the House of Representatives this will ensure less public spending and borrowing, but with Obamacare out, or at least reformed, the suggestion is that President Obama can be like Bill Clinton's second term.

Is it possible that the hesitant performance of the Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, and the sharp questions from Obama-nominated supreme court Justice Sotomayor, are the visible part of a strategy of dumping policy for a November presidential win?

I don't think this will work, unless there is either an economic recovery or some reason to believe that it is on the way. But it could defuse the biggest motivator for the Tea Party movement. And the Supreme Court can take the blame with Democrat voters...

Any offer of 40% or lower for a Republican presidential win seems generous at this stage.

UPDATE: The LA Times' Politics Now blog seems quite certain the whole Obamacare legislation is going to fall.


Burma election round up

After reading reports of voter intimidation in Burma (also called the Union of Myanmar), which has been under Socialist military rule since 1962, I thought a round up of how the election is supposed to work would be in order.

Wikipedia has a page dedicated to the elections which provides background and a lot of comment about how unfair they are, but no information about the procedures.

Here's a useful guide of the seven-step roadmap to "disciplined democracy" which is the basis for the current election.

There are 440 seats in the People's Parliament (Pyithu Hluttaw), of which 330 are elected, one for each township in Burma. The creation of a new capital, Naypyidaw, meant five new townships in Mandalay Division were established.

The Nationalities Parliament (Amyotha Hluttaw) is composed of 224 seats, of which 168 seats are elected, with the 56 remaining being military appointments. Each state and division will have 12 seats equally in the Amyotha Hluttaw.

A comprehensive guide to how the constituencies are spread across the country can be found here.

The outcome of this election is certainly to allow the military to keep control of most of the institutions, including an effective veto on ministerial appointments. The decision of the main opposition movement to boycott the election makes any attempt to gauge the popularity of the government hard to assess. The best indicator in such cases is turnout.

In some respects (guaranteeing four military cabinet ministers) the roadmap looks like the route adopted by Chile under General Augusto Pinochet to move towards democracy. The basic problem for the army is to work out a way of disentangling itself from being in charge (and blamed) for everything, without ending up dangling from trees and streetlamps.

Results can be found here, FWIW.


In the event of a tie in the 2012 Presidential Election...

...the House of Representatives votes, state by state, for the President. This means that if Great Plains were a state with 1 congressperson (Democrat), that person would presumably back the Democrat. If Metropolis were a state with 31 representatives (16 Republicans and 15 Democrats) then assuming party lines hold, that's one vote for the Republicans.

Here's a chart showing how this looked before the 2010 elections:

With a few results pending, the picture has changed:

The upshot of this is that if the Electoral College result (remembering that the distribution by states will change by 2012) produces a dead heat (269-269 for example) then right now it would mean a Republican President and a Democrat Vice President (the Senate gets to vote for the Vice President in this scenario).

2010 Governors' Election Results So Far

At the time of writing, CBS News reckons there are 28 Republican Governors, 15 Democrats, 1 Independent and six results to come. However, Brian Dubie the Republican candidate in Vermont, has reportedly conceded, so I make it:

Republicans 28
Republicans lead in 3 (Connecticut, Maine, Oregon)
Democrats 16
Democrats lead in 2 (Illinois, Minnesota)
Independent 1

N.B. Although the five remaining contests are coloured according to the current lead, I would be surprised if none of these changed, for example Connecticut and/or Illinois, which are virtual dead heats.


"Already voted" polling in New Mexico

RealClearPolitics has a report on polling of people who have already voted in New Mexico, a sort of postal vote exit poll. Current estimate is 60% Republican 36% Democrat. The same sort of polling in the state in 2008, found that although only 10% of voters had cast their ballot early, yet the exit poll disproportionately favoured the eventual winner. RCP speculates that this might be repeated next month.

Two points:

1) I'm opposed to the publication of any exit polling of any kind before the LAST polling station has closed ANYWHERE and the last postal ballot received. This is because this type of polling can be used to manipulate the result: you tell people in the state of Washington that the Republicans have lost nationally, therefore a million Republicans don't vote in Washington, giving a cheap victory to Democrats. The same would happen with Nevada if the exit polls told the opposite story.

2) I think it would be fair to consider the early voting as a sign of two influences - the "enthusiasm gap" between the two parties and the relative strength of local party organisation which may be helping supporters obtain postal ballots by sending reminders etc. Either way, unless a lot of Democrats read this and get fired up, I'm going to assume that the exit poll indicates a Republican victory in the New Mexico Governor's race.


U.S. House importance for 2012

In 2012, the U.S. presidential election will be contested with a new electoral college (538 votes), based on the redistribution of congressional seats (435 of them) according to the 2010 U.S. Census. However, in the event of a tie (269-269) the back-up system for electing the President kicks in.

The current House of Representatives at the time of the 2012 election, that's the people who are elected next month, will have to decide on a state-by-state basis, which candidate they want to win. For example, Delaware, which has one Representative, will have one vote decided by that representative, but California, which has 53 Representatives will have it's one vote decided by a vote of the 53 delegates.

It's worth noting that if the 2012 election were today and the current House of Representatives members were choosing, then the partisan breakdown would be Democrat 32 votes, Republican 16 and a tie for Hawaii and Idaho.

Using Nate Silver's Fivethirtyeight.com most recent forecast of the House elections, I've drawn up a spreadsheet showing how the latest forecasts could tip the state delegation counts.

Assuming the election goes according to the current estimates (which is unlikely, because things are bound to change at least a little in the next couple of weeks), we could see a switch to 29 Republican votes, 18 Democrats and three tied (Idaho again, Mississippi and New Hampshire).

If I were advising the Democrats on where to throw any extra cash lying around for this election, I'd pick the close contests in the following states:

Arizona, Colorado, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire and West Virginia. I wouldn't spend too much, because the odds of a tie in the electoral college are very low. Also, there are too many seats in play to defend adequately, to some extend luck and local resilience is needed.

If you want the specific seats I'd defend, here they are: AZ8 and possibly AZ5; CO3; MS4 (to keep the tie); NV3; NH2 (to keep the tie); and WV1.