Morrison majority for Australian government more or less confirmed

Results are slow to come in for marginal seats but the ABC has now called the election as a clear (but slim) majority for the return of a Scott Morrison led government.

ABC News:  Election results see Scott Morrison reach 76 seats to win majority government

The Coalition is predicted to win 78 seats in the House of Representatives — a result consecutive opinion polls and political commentators failed to predict.

The seat of Chisholm in Melbourne’s east delivered the Coalition its final required seat, with Liberal candidate Gladys Liu winning despite a small swing to the Labor Party.

Reaching majority government — 76 seats out of 150 — means the Coalition will not have to rely on independent MPs to pass controversial legislation provided no MPs cross the floor.

The seats of BassCowanLilley and Macquarieare still in doubt according to the ABC election computer.

The West Australian seat of Cowan is held by Labor’s Ann Aly, who as of 10:55pm (AEST) had 50.5 per cent of the preference count.

In the Tasmanian seat of Bass, Labor MP Ross Hart is trailing Liberal candidate Bridget Archer, who has had a 5.8 per cent swing towards her.

In the seat of Macquarie, Liberal candidate Sarah Richards was leading Labor incumbent Susan Templeman by 151 votes at 10:55pm (AEST).

A New Zealand view:

I have heard similar mentioned elsewhere – the Australian election result proves that if policies are too ‘progressive’ or radical the chances of winning an election are slim.

I think it is much more complex than that.

It depends on the policies being proposed  – how they are presented and how far they try to change things.

But it also depends on the people who are promoting the policies, especially party leaders. And how election campaigns are conducted is also important, especially in close electorates.

Australian elections – are polls bad, or does media misuse them?

Scott Morrison and his National Coalition winning the Australian election is being reported as a shock, in part due to polls predicting a loss.  Are polls a waste of time? Or does media put too much weight on imprecise indications of how people might vote?

I keep saying that at best polls are an approximate indication of how people may vote in the past, and can in no way predict accurate election results in the future. Polls have well known statistical margins of error, but media reporting on them seem to largely ignore this.

Perhaps more accurate ways could be found to predict election results, but I think that a media obsession with trying to predict what will happen in the future is aas much a problem as polling methods.

RNZ – Australia election: Why polls got it so wrong

It was predicted to be the federal election Labor simply couldn’t lose, but after last night’s surprise Coalition win, the opinion poll may struggle to stand the test of time.

Experts say cost cutting and technological change in the polling process is leading to many inaccurate and misleading suggestions.

Nearly all polls predicted Labor leader Bill Shorten would have an easy win with a 51:49 lead over Prime Minister Scott Morrison on a two-party preferred basis.

I dispute that. Polls generally ask something like ‘if an election was held today who would you vote for?’ – perhaps some polls ask ‘who will you vote for on election day?’ but i have never seen that.

And a 2% gap is well within margins of error, which are usually around 3-4%.

51% with a 3% margin of error means there’s a 95% chance of the result being between 48% and 54%.

49% with a 3% margin of error means there’s a 95% chance of the result being between 46% and 52%.

So there is quite an overlap.

In fact, for three years the polls had picked the Opposition to take government.

Again I dispute that. Over the last three years polls tried to measure who people might vote for in the week or two prior to the poll being published.

They are usually whole country polls. Elections in non-MMP countries like Australia and the USA can be decided in just a few key swing electorates or swing states. \being swing electorates they have a history of impressionable swing voters.

Election campaigns are carefully planned to try to change crucial votes right up until election day. Polls are not designed to examine how people mat change their mind at the last minute.

I obviously have ideas about who to vote for in the weeks and days before an election, but I don’t decide for sure until I vote. There must be others who do similar. Polls can’t get inside our heads.

So why exactly were the polls, as ABC political editor Andrew Probyn put it last night, such a “shambles”?

Former Newspoll boss Martin O’Shannessy blamed the flawed forecasting on the fact that many people’s telephone habits have changed.

“Not everybody has a landline and the numbers that are published are incomplete.”

That might be a part of the problem – but that doesn’t address the ‘trying to predict the future’  misrepresentation of polls.

Polls can only be approximate.

I think that media trying to use polls as precise predictors of future voting is the biggest problem here.

Australian election – Morrison returned as Prime Minister

Despite late polls giving a slight advantage to Labor their leader Bill Shorten has conceded to incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Stuff – Bill Shorten concedes defeat, Scott Morrison to return as PM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has claimed victory in a stunning political “miracle” that has devastated the Labor Party, forced Bill Shorten to step down as its leader and reshaped Australian politics.

Shorten had been favoured in exit polls and made significant gains in some seats in New South Wales and Victoria, while independent candidate Zali Steggall defeated former prime minister Tony Abbott in Warringah.

But his bid to become Australia’s 31st Prime Minister – through a platform of tax, wages and climate policy reform – was in deep trouble with his party suffering damaging defeats in key electorates the party needed to claim power.

Mr Shorten announced he would stand down as Labor leader while staying in Parliament, adding the federal election campaign had been “toxic at times” but that Labor had fought for ambitious change.

The election result was yet to be finalised at the end of election night, with several seats in doubt, but the Coalition defied the opinion polls to hold its ground and win seats from Labor.

With almost three quarters of the vote counted, the Coalition had 74 of the 151 seats in the House of Representatives and was within sight of forming government in its own right or with support in a hung Parliament.

Any result would have been dramatic. When was the last time an Australian Prime Minister won an election?

But:

However, the result shows the nation is divided along geographic and ideological lines with Mr Abbott declaring a political “realignment” with Labor making gains in progressive wealthy seats and the Coalition doing better in working class areas.

A group of key independents could still hold the key to power.

Neither of the major parties are popular in Australia.

Tamihere/Fletcher Auckland mayoralty bid: “Shake it up and sort it out”

As widely indicated since yesterday, John Tamihere has launched a bid for the Auckland mayoralty, alongside current councillor Christine Fletcher. If Phil Goff stands for re-election this will be a challenge to him, especially if it splits the left leaning vote and a credible centre or right leaning candidate also contests the election.

Stuff:  John Tamihere and Christine Fletcher team up to challenge Auckland Mayor Phil Goff

Two-term Labour MP, former talkback host, and social agency leader John Tamihere has launched his bid for the Auckland mayoralty.

Tamihere has teamed up with former National MP and Auckland City Mayor, and current councillor, Christine Fletcher, in an unusual move to campaign with a ready-made deputy-mayor.

Tamihere pledged to “open the books and clean the house”, and said it’s not clear how ratepayers money is being spent.

Tamihere has called for more democratic control over public assets and wants to appoint councillors to the boards of all council-controlled-organisations such as Auckland Transport. That would require a law change.

The only endorsement so far on the campaign website, is from Tamihere’s running mate Christine Fletcher.

After promising yesterday…

There is nothing more on twitter yet, but he has a presence on Facebook:

The launch:

The campaign website: JT For Mayor


1. Open the Books and Clean the House

Aucklanders pay billions in rates and charges, but where does all that money go? Auckland has ended up with the most council staff ever, the biggest wage bill ever – and yet the most out of touch and secretive management ever. I will open all the doors and open all the books. We will find out who the billions are being paid to, what it’s being spent on, and why.

2. Return Democracy to Neighbourhoods

Too much power in our city is controlled by faceless managers in central Auckland. Control of the city must go back into the hands of the people. I will return local resources and decisions to local elected boards and their communities.

3. Bring Public Assets back under Democratic Control

Three quarters of Auckland Council’s assets are controlled by bureaucrats with no accountability. I want all Council owned organisations under democratic control. As a first step I will appoint elected councillors on every Council business board to ensure openness and oversight.

4. Crack down on Waste and Incompetence

Aucklanders deserve accountability and high performance from their Council. I will establish an Integrity Unit to investigate corruption, unacceptable conduct, and incompetence. This unit will report directly to me as your mayor. Aucklanders can be confident that their serious complaints will come to my desk for action.

5. Proper Partnership with Central Government

Aucklanders pay a huge part of the government’s costs. So why are Aucklanders forced to pay an extra fuel tax when no other region does? The present mayor should never have agreed to that. The huge infrastructure pressure on Auckland is the direct outcome of Central Government’s unplanned immigration, and Auckland ratepayers shouldn’t have to pick up the entire bill. As the new mayor representing a third of the country, I will expect a more equal partnership especially with transport and housing.

Recount in Florida, US election administration awful

There have been a number of stories on the US election of awful administration on top of ongoing problems of gerrymandering, voter restrictions and difficulties in voting on election day.

The overall result is pretty much settled, with the Republicans assured of a 0-3 seat majority in the Senate (I think a 50-50 deadlock is broken by the Vice President), and the Democrats assured of control of the House with the only likely possibility that they may increase their election night majority.

Both delays and problems persist, and the courts are often involved (with elected officials and judges) in trying to sort out problems.

Reuters:  Voter advocates sue over delays at polling sites

Voting rights activists successfully sued Georgia and Texas asking them to extend voting hours in some counties after problems with voting machines led to delays and long lines thanks to a big turnout in U.S. elections on Tuesday.

This thread suggests a shambles in Indiana:

Florida is involved in tight contests and controversy again:

Of course trump is involved:

But:

Problems vary because each state does voting their own way, and parties are heavily involved in many aspects of the process.

And the biggest problems here are getting more people to vote (our turnouts are relatively high) and quibbling about vote advocating on election day when a a lot of votes are cast early when it promotion and advertising are allowed.

Our Electoral Commission may be a bit slack in dealing with (relatively minor) transgressions, but overall we have a very good electoral system.

Our candidates and politicians and lobby groups are all generally far less controversial than in the US too.

Points of note from US midterm elections

Now the dust has settled and most of the results have been confirmed it’s worth looking at what the US midterm elections mean 9for the US) in the short term and for the 2020 election.

RealClear Politics:  Six Takeaways From the Midterms

Democrats accomplished something that seemed impossible in early 2017: They took control of the House of Representatives; they picked up multiple governorships.

Overall, Republicans had a tough night Tuesday. When all is said and done, Democrats look to have gained around 35 seats in the House, seven governorships and over 330 state legislators. Yet as rough as it was, it could have been much worse for Republicans.

In the Senate, Republicans actually expanded their majority — as it appears they will pick up 3 seats.

Some factors to consider:

  1. The GOP got killed in the suburbs. This is a significant long-term problem for the party if it continues.
  2. This probably doesn’t count as a wave. Our preliminary results suggest that things have moved about 23 points toward Democrats.  That’s a substantial shift, but it falls short of even “semi-wave elections” such as 2014 (a shift of 26 points toward Republicans) and 2006 (a movement of 30 points toward Democrats).
  3. Money. Democrats had a massive fundraising advantage in the lower chamber. This allowed them to catch a number of incumbent Republicans napping, and to spread the playing field out such that the GOP just had too many brush fires to put out.
    To the extent we wish to deduce anything about 2020 from these midterms, we should bear in mind that the next election will probably be fought on a more even financial playing field.
  4. The maps moved out from under Republicans. Many of these districts that swung against the GOP were suburban districts that included urban areas…when there was a suburban swing, the Republicans were spread too thin to survive.
  5. The red state/blue state divide is getting deeper…generally speaking, Republicans won red states and Democrats won blue states, with proper allowance for incumbency.  This is yet another example of how polarized we are becoming.
  6. This all takes place against the backdrop of a booming economy. Finally, it is important to note that Republicans should not have found themselves in this position amid a vibrant economy.  It is quite unusual to have a result this bad in a time of peace and prosperity. Some of this is the suburban realignment, but some is driven by Donald Trump’s more extreme actions, which alienate suburban moderates.

It’s very difficult to predict two years ahead, especially with the division and upheaval going on in US politics, and the unpredictability of Trump.

…if Trump can smooth out the rougher edges that turn suburbanites off, he could prove to be a formidable candidate in 2020.  Most of his states from 2016 continued to support Republicans this cycle.  But, on the other hand, he hasn’t shown much interest in smoothing out those edges.  And if the economy slides into recession, all bets are off.

The Senate will be a tougher battle for the Republicans next time.The House could swing either way.

As for the presidency, it looks likely that Trump will stand again, and much will depend on how he handles the second half of his term as president. And the economy.

And a big unknown is who the Democrats will put up against Trump. They stuffed up last time with Hillary Clinton. If she gets another shot then I think Trump will be favoured, to have lost once to him was a remarkable defeat, and on top of that she has too many negatives.

Both the Senate and the House could easily go either way, depending on what happens over the next two years.

And I think it is impossible to predict Trump, and also impossible to predict whether he can hold sufficient support to win again. It looks like he has a substantial base of support that will keep ignoring his fallibilities. But he needs more than that. If he keeps attacking different groups and demographics he will make things difficult for himself.

 

US midterm election results

Largely as predicted by polls and pundits, the Republicans have held the Senate with an slightly increased majority, and the House has moved the other way with Democrats taking control there – with some results (about 20) yet to be confirmed it looks like about a twenty seat margin. This is a flip from the last result (Republicans 235, Democrats 193).

Current House result (412 of 435 seats decided):

  • Democratic Party 220 (50.6%)
  • Republican Party 193 (44.4%)
  • Other parties 0 (0%)

It is remarkable that in a country as large and diverse as the USA only two parties contested the House elections.

Current Senate results (96 or 100 seats declared):

  • Republican Party 51 (51%%)
  • Democratic Party 43 (43%)
  • Other parties 2 (2%)

That is just about an exact reversal of party support, although only 35 of the Senate seats were contested, and these generally favoured the Republicans.

There was an unusually high turnout for midterm elections, despite the usual claims of difficulties and deterrences in voting. For Kiwis who are used to just wandering into a polling booth and voting, it seems odd to see such long queues in the US.

What this election has accentuated is the increasing division in the US between pro and anti  Trump, urban and rural, highly educated versus less educated.

Trump has achieved some things, like a booming economy and increased employment, but he has also polarised the country, and has created greater risks with a huge deficit and disruption to trade.

FiveThirtyEight summarise the election result so far:

The big questions have been answered. Democrats have taken the House. Republicans will keep the Senate. Exactly how many seats will change hands, however, is still up in the air:

  • There are currently just over 30 House seats yet to be projected; if the current leader in all of them ends up winning, the House will be 227 Democrats, 208 Republicans.

Unsurprisingly Trump claimed a ‘very Big Win’:

A different slant from Reuters: Trump faces restraints after Democrats seize House

Democrats rode a wave of dissatisfaction with President Trump to win control of the House of Representatives, giving them the opportunity to block Trump’s agenda and open his administration to intense scrutiny.

Reuters: Seven takeaways from the U.S. congressional elections

  1. The urban-rural divide is as pervasive as ever.
  2. President Donald Trump remains an inescapable political force. Democrats credit Trump’s unpopularity among women, minorities, young people and suburban voters with college degrees for their House wins. Republicans said his late-stage campaign efforts helped them pick up seats in the Senate.
  3. Progressive stars had a tough night.
  4. Republicans held off a blue wave in governor’s races.
  5. The Republican Party is more Trumpian than ever.
  6. Wedge issues raised late in the campaign helped Republicans.
  7. Democrats had big success in the Great Lakes. The party held onto Senate seats in states in the industrial Midwest that Trump won in 2016.

 

US midterm elections – voting ends and counting begins today (NZ time)

Voting is currently under way in the US midterm elections, Tuesday US time.

NBC News: Stunning early-voting numbers ahead of Election Day

More than 35 million early votes have been counted nationwide as of Monday — well more than the total cast in the 2014 midterm elections.

That year, just more than 21 million early votes were tabulated.

The NBC News Data Analytics Lab, using voter file data from TargetSmart, found that 35,526,881 early votes were counted nationwide as of Monday. In states that have early voting, 42 percent of voters are Republican, 41 percent are Democrats, and 17 percent have either independent or have another party affiliation.

So similar turnouts between Republicans and Democrats. I think that the turnout of independents, and which way they vote, will be of more importance than committed voters.

NY Times: Two Vastly Different Election Outcomes That Hinge on a Few Dozen Close Contests

Democrats appear poised to win the House popular vote on Tuesday by a wide margin, with national polls showing sustained disapproval of President Trump — and yet the fate of the chamber is not a foregone conclusion.

On the day before the midterm elections, two vastly different outcomes remain easy to imagine. There could be a Democratic blowout that decisively ends Republicans’ control of the House and even endangers their Senate majority. Or there could be a district-by-district battle for House control that lasts late on election night and perhaps for weeks after.

All of this may be adding up to a late shift toward Democrats. The Times reported that both Democratic and Republican operatives see House polls as trending Democratic in the final days, and the last wave of Times/Siena polls are at least consistent with that possibility.

FiveThirtyEight poll of poll based forecasts have moved slightly in favour of the Democrats winning the House (a 87.9% chance), and slightly reduced the strong odds of the republicans holding the Senate (a 80.9% chance).

RealClear Politics has the Republicans with 49 likely wins in the Senate, the Democrats with 43, and 8 uncertain so that certainly favours the Republicans.

RealClear Politics has the Democrats with 203 likely wins in the House, the Republicans with 194, with 38 up for grabs.

President Donald Trump has been campaigning hard for the Republicans. He may encourage a higher turnout of Republicans who like or believe his divisive rhetoric and lies (many do), but he may also encourage a higher turnout of Democrats who dislike him, and also independents who could swing either for or against Republicans thanks to Trump.

Some claim that these elections are a test of Trump’s mandate, but I think it is much more complicated than that – as indicated by the likely opposing movements between the House (to the Democrats) and the Senate (to the Republicans).

While Trump and others are likely to claim some sort of victory, it looks most likely to be indecisive.

Polls close and vote counting begins NZ time from 12 noon through to 6:00 pm Wednesday.

We will get some results this afternoon and this evening, and we may get an idea of likely overall outcomes of the House and the Senate, but it could take days to get all the results, and possibly weeks.

The outcome is of obvious interest to political junkies in New Zealand, but it is unlikely to change much for us here.

Making America Grate Again

The US mid term elections are tonight/tomorrow NZ time (Tuesday in the US).

I’m glad I can largely switch off and avoid what has become a despicable democracy. It is two party dominated, and ‘a plague on both their houses’

Trump just said ‘we’ve ended the war on beautiful clean coal’ and that may be one of the less silly sounding statements he has made.  It’s hard to know whether he is helping or harming Republican chances.

Whenever I hear him (he was just on RNZ) he grates. Bigly.

But the Democrats have enable Trump with poor candidate choices (Clinton) and awful campaigning.

FiveThirtyEight odds have moved just slightly against the Republicans holding the Senate and improved slightly for the Democrats to win the House:

  • Senate – chance Republicans keep control (83.6%)
  • House – chance Democrats win control (87.3%)

On Eve of Trump’s First Midterm, We’re in Uncharted Waters – Chris Buskirk, NY Times

Midterms Will Show Voters’ Love or Hate of Trump – Allan Lichtman, The GuardianJudgment Day Is Nearly Here: A Midterm Overview -Sally Persons, RealClearPolitics

Image result for cartoon plague both houses

US 2018 (mid-term) elections

Polls suggest that the republicans should better their bare majority in the US Senate, but look likely to lose their majority in the House (Congress).

The current US Senate (33 seats are being contested):

  • Republicans 51
  • Democrats 47
  • Independent 2

The current US House of Representatives (all seats contested):

  • Republicans 235
  • Democrats 193
  • Vacant 7

President Donald Trump (like many others) is trying hard to influence the US midterm elections coming up next week. He is pushing immigration buttons hard – Trump Launches Final Campaign Blitz by Pounding Illegal Immigration – and also attacking the media again – Slams Media for Using Synagogue Shooting to ‘Sow Anger & Division’ – accusing them of doing what he himself keeps doing.

It’s hard to know if his influence will be positive or negative for republican candidates. After a recent recovery in support the gap has recently trended towards widening again – see FiveThirtyEight and RealClear Politics.

The Democrats are receiving celebrity endorsements (Kanye West seems to have backtracked on his enthusiasm for Trump) and Dems Double Down on Healthcare.

RCP Averages predict that the Republicans will pick up one seat in the Senate.

FiveThirtyEight is similar, with their current Senate odds:

  • Chance Democrats win control (14.9%)
  • Chance Republicans keep control (85.1%)

FiveThirtyEight favours the Democrats in Congress predicting a gain of 38 seats which would give them a clear majority:

  • Chance Democrats win control (84.9%)
  • Chance Republicans keep control (15.1%

RCP has the Democrats with an average seat pickup of 25.5

The chances of an upset on the above odds ins unlikely. Trump surprised many pollsters and pundits in 2016, but this election has a number of separate contests in different areas with different issues in play. The chances of many of them swinging significantly against the polls seems low.