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.

Hung Parliament after Liberal seat loss in Australia

Things just got even tougher for the Liberals in Australia after they lost a by-election in the Wentworth electorate after ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull exited Parliament.

The Liberals had been clinging to a one seat majority, but Australia now has a hung Parliament.

news.com.au – Independent Kerryn Phelps claims victory over Liberal candidate Dave Sharma for Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth

Independent Kerryn Phelps is ahead on the two-candidate preferred vote by 54.39 per cent compared to Liberal candidate Dave Sharma on 45.61 per cent.

Dr Phelps has 17,500 primary votes compared to Mr Sharma’s 20,712 votes.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said about 80 per cent of preferences from other candidates were going to Dr Phelps and so she should win easily. He called the by-election in her favour about 7.15pm, not long after polling booths closed at 6pm.

It’s the first time in its 117-year history that the Liberals have lost the Wentworth seat and commentators are already predicting it will spell chaos within the party, and Malcolm Turnbull will be blamed.

There was a 27 per cent swing away from the Liberal Party, the biggest swing against a government in a by-election in the history of federal parliament.

It means the Morrison Government will lose its one-seat majority and Australia now has a hung parliament. The Liberal Party will have to work with crossbenchers to get its legislation passed.

Talk about a rock star reception

Kerryn Phelps was greeted by a roar of jubilation as she arrived at her victory party at North Bondi Surf Life Savers club, and the noise didn’t die down for five minutes.

Dr Phelps took her time moving to the front of the room, stopping to hug and high five supporters. At several points she even broke out dancing, and an impromptu moshpit promptly formed around her.

“I am humbled by this privilege and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, before descending back into the crowd.

Scott Morrison’s speech slammed

Morrison is the current Liberal leader and Prime Minister.

While the Prime Minister’s speech to Liberal supporters at Dave Sharma’s election party was heartily cheered, it has not gone down well on social media.

Many said it showed a lack of humility and that Mr Morrison had not understood the message from voters.

In contrast, Mr Sharma’s speech was praised for being gracious and respectful.

Mr Morrison’s defiant speech drew frequent heckles from the rowdier attendees.

Beaten Liberal candidate Dave Sharma got a more respectful reception, perhaps because his speech was notably magnanimous — not only towards Dr Phelps, but towards the old member of Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull.

Loss will be blamed on Malcolm Turnbull

The disastrous by-election result for the Liberal Party is already being blamed on the former prime minister and Wentworth MP.

Mr Turnbull was noticeably absent from the campaign and his son was openly encouraging people to vote for Kerryn Phelps.

Australian associate editor Chris Kenny said he thought the repercussions of the loss would be extraordinary.

“There’s going to be incredible turmoil within the Liberal Party as the blame game plays out,” he told Sky News.

“I think Malcolm Turnbull’s reputation is going to be absolutely trashed.”

I think that the Liberal Party needs to bear a lot of responsibility for the blame, but politicians are known for often not acknowledging their own failings. They probably don’t see their own failings.

But this is a big failure for the Liberals.

news.com.au – Voters scoff at Liberal Party’s tactical blunder in Wentworth

THE Liberal Party appears to have made a catastrophic tactical blunder in the Wentworth by-election.

Its core argument to voters was obvious to anyone who visited a polling station today. Huge signs warned of the consequences that would follow a victory for independent Kerryn Phelps, saying Labor would ultimately benefit.

“Labor + Phelps, don’t risk it,” the most common poster read.

The implication, hammered into voters heads all week by Liberal candidate Dave Sharma, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and even retired party legend John Howard, was that Dr Phelps would cause chaos in parliament.

In other words, the biggest reason to vote Liberal was “stability”.

The Australian Liberals are about as stable as a Jami-Lee Ross.

Party leaders on the election campaign

Chapters on a Victoria University book reviewing the 2017 election by each of the party leaders.

Newshub – Stardust and Substance: the 2017 election through politicians’ eyes

Accounts of political events by politicians themselves can be worse than useless and should be read with great caution. Politicians are simply too close to what happened to really give any insights into events. They’re also often just too practiced in their own spin to be able to reveal any truly interesting or new information. Too often, politician accounts of election campaigns are simply their attempts to assert their own version of history for the record.

Nonetheless, the accounts of the 2017 election by the political party leaders in Stardust and Substance are all well worth reading. Some are more self-serving than others, and they vary greatly in how much they reveal that is new or useful. But all seven chapters from the party leaders help the reader understand what went on in 2017 to make it such an extraordinary election.

They are generally more self promotional than analytical.

Jacinda Ardern – ‘I remember the crunch point’: Jacinda Ardern looks back on the 2017 election

There is no doubt that 2017 will remain the most extraordinary year of my life. But a statement like that doesn’t quite capture the fact that what happened this year had layers that extended well beyond me. In that sense, before I go any further I want to acknowledge three people in particular. The first two are Andrew Kirton and Nigel Haworth. I see the president and especially the general secretary of our party as often the unsung heroes. Their work is unrelenting. They manage and motivate thousands of volunteers, manage our governing body, and ensure we have the funds to run our campaigns in the first place. I salute them.

Bill English: ‘Confident but paranoid’: Bill English reflects on election 2017

Coming into 2017 I was often asked how National, as the incumbent government, felt about the election. My standard answer was “confident but paranoid”, which, as it turned out, proved to be the right mental setting. One had only to look around the world to see that political events had become a bit more unpredictable. The fact that you couldn’t predict where the unpredictable would occur didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to happen, and of course it did.

I want to give some personal reflections on my involvement in the campaign as a leader. I think that the overriding impression for me was just how much I enjoyed it. As someone who had been unavoidably characterised in a certain way because of my finance role, it did take some time to adjust, and for public expectations to adjust, to my new role as a leader in a campaign. There are a number of reasons that I enjoyed it. First was that there was plenty to campaign for, again unusually for a party that had been in government for nine years. I had been personally strongly invested in many of the issues which were debated in the campaign – the economy, obviously, but also all the social issues, poverty, housing, water quality, and the environment, where we had done much intensive work over many years.

Winston Peters: ‘We chose the harder path’: Winston Peters on election 2017

Eight weeks out from the general election, New Zealand First was poised to challenge Labour’s status as the second largest political party – this was a sign: when things are going great you should be worried most. Polling revealed that we were statistically tied with Labour. From our perspective that day would have been a good one for the country to have voted.

It was not to be.

Labour were sagging badly but I think it is very unlikely NZ First would have overtaken them. Greens were picking uop more of Labour’s losses than NZ First.

James Shaw: When the wheels came off: James Shaw on Election 2017

My worst moment of the 2017 election came the day parliament rose to kick off the formal part of the campaign, about six weeks before election day.

Roughly 10 minutes before I had to give the Adjournment Debate speech on behalf of the Green Party, I received that evening’s Colmar Brunton poll results. We were on 4%, the first time during the campaign that we had dipped below the threshold which would see us return to parliament. And because, in many ways, the adjournment speech kicked off the formal election campaign period, it wasn’t a great way to start.

I finished the speech and my colleague Gareth Hughes came and sat down in the seat next to me. He looked at me and said, “Way to go, giving that speech, knowing what you know.” It was a really tough moment, because at that point it seemed probable that I was about to become the last leader of the Green Party and that I had just given the last speech in parliament by a Green Party MP.

David Seymour: ‘We didn’t pay enough attention to the brand’: David Seymour on Election 2017.

As a rookie MP and the sole elected member of ACT, I became the party leader and also entered the executive (as parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and to the minister of regulatory reform). I am told that nobody has entered parliament this way since the 19th century, when governments typically lasted only a year or two. The task of carrying off these roles as well as serving the Epsom electorate was always going to be large. In the final analysis it was too large.

Electoral Commission ineffective again after advertising breach

The Electoral Commission as tut tutted a bit, nine months after the election, and not even slapped Patrick Hogan over the hand with a wet tote ticket after he claimed that he didn’t know the rules when advertising in support of NZ First during last year’s election campaign.

The rules are effectively a waste of time.

Stuff reported (in Officials warned against racing tax breaks):

Former Cambridge Stud owners Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan broke electoral rules by paying for a full-page advertisement in industry newspaper The Informant in September.

That earned them a slapdowns from the election watchdog this week.

A spokesperson for the Commission said: “It is the Electoral Commission’s view that the advertisement was a ‘party election advertisement’ as defined in the Electoral Act. The advertisement should have had the written authorisation of the party secretary from New Zealand First prior to the advertisement being published. In addition, the advertisement should have contained a promoter statement. ”

She said the Commission accepted that the breach was unintentional and the Hogans were unaware of the rules.

Hogan has been around long enough, and I think promoting NZ First long enough, to have known there were electoral advertising rules. It could have been some sort of deliberate ignorance, but I don’t see how he wouldn’t have known what he was able to do within the rules.

“Having considered all the circumstances including the modest expenditure involved and the circulation of the publication, the Commission will not be taking the matter any further.  The Commission has explained the rules to Sir Patrick and The Informant and recommended that they seek advice on election advertising in the future.”

So breaking the electoral rules isn’t a big deal as long as you say that you will check them out before doing it again.

In the meantime the race horse breading industry has been given tax breaks in this year’s budget despite IRD recommending against it again.

Dan Bidois on his Northcote win

New MP Dan Bidois has a lot to learn now he has won the Northcote by-election. He will have that chance on the National back bench for at least two years.

Simon Bridges says he will give Bidois some minor responsibilities – his biggest task initially will be coming to grips with being an electorate MP and setting himself up in Northcote.

1 News interviewed Bidois before his win: ‘I have been a fighter my entire life’ – New Zealand’s newest MP Dan Bidois takes out Northcote by-election

“I have been a fighter my entire life. I dropped out of school at 15, found out I had cancer and beat it, completed my butchery apprenticeship, eventually getting mentored to go to University and falling in love with education. Ultimately I went on to win a scholarship and complete my Masters at Harvard.”

“I have had to fight for everything I have achieved in life, and so I want to bring that determination to Northcote and fight for the things that matter locally – improving transport, stopping the fuel tax increases, and getting more investment in local services like health and education.”

He said prior to his victory when asked what issues he would pursue in Parliament, that he was “passionate about education and making sure we’re getting more kids learning good trades. I would like to see more done around apprenticeships”.

The economy has been doing well the last few years, which has lifted incomes and meant the Government can afford to invest more in public services, but we can’t take it for granted. The new Labour-NZ First Government is making a range of changes that will slow that growth down, which is really bad for families. We can’t take good economic management for granted.

There is currently no scheduled vote on abortion or cannabis, but I haven’t seen evidence the current systems aren’t working properly. I would want to study the issues more before I made a decision on these two.

I haven’t read the proposed euthanasia legislation yet. I do have some concerns around it though, in that we have to make sure that there appropriate safeguards so our sick and elderly aren’t abused.

Sounds like he has been well indoctrinated with standard National responses in preparation for the by-election.

Time will tell whether he fights for his own voice and his own views.