Election 2017 – PREFU day

With one month until the 2017 election today is the day the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Update (PREFU) comes out.

This will signal the amount of money available for more election promises, policies and bribes.

It is likely to accentuate the ‘tax cut’ versus ‘more taxes’ argument that looks set to differentiate National and Labour.

National will sharpen their pencil to try to attract (aka buy) some votes.

Labour will need to sharpen their presentation of their taxing and spending policy package. They have already signalled increases in both but will need to provide more specifics.

NZ First and Greens already want to spend far more than is ever likely to be available.

Stuff  Live: Opening the books, housing

Labour’s surge

Labour’s turnaround from a floundering mess of a party to a vibrant, confident and genuine contender in the election has been as dramatic as the Green crash.

Metiria Turei’s beneficiary mission gamble precipitated a crash in Labour’s support, but unlike the Greens they acted quickly and positively by installing Jacinda Ardern as leader.

Ardern stepped up with aplomb, aided by an adoring media. This instantly revitalised Labour, and caused many voters to quickly reassess their options.

Two polls have shown how much despair in Labour has changed to hope and enthusiasm.

Two poll results yesterday put numbers on an obvious turn around in support.

  • Newshub/Reid Research 33.1% (up 9.0)
  • UMR (Labour’s internal poll) 36% (up 13)

This only just covers the emergence of Ardern and the resurgence in Labour. It could be an initial surge that settles back, or it could be a snapshot in an ongoing trend upwards.

National have barely moved in both polls (44.45 and 43%), with most of the swing coming from the crashing Greens and also from NZ First – the attraction of Winston Peters as a protest or ‘no decent option’ vote seems to have diminished.

Ardern and Labour still have to campaign well, and Ardern will have to measure up in the leaders’ debates, which now look likely to be just head to head with Bill English. It is an interesting contrast.

Ardern has the advantage of looking young and fresh, but she will have to show she has a good grasp of the key issues, particularly economic matters and costings of Labour’s policies.

English is a contrast, generally regarded as steady and reliable and he has a very good knowledge of policies and issues. He also has a healthy economy to promote as a success.

Two weeks ago the election looked like National versus the rest.

But for the first time in years it now looks a real fight, a contrast between one strong party and one revitalised party. Voters have a lot to consider over the next month or so.

Labour have vitality and momentum and could easily improve more, as long as they don’t make any major mistakes. Keeping Kelvin Davis out of the spotlight could be a good idea.

However this has already been a fast changing and volatile campaign so anything could happen. And National could as easily trip up as Labour.

The mess in the US

The mess in the US is looking messier.

The latest news claims that the ‘private memos’ of James Comey contained classified information, and Donald Trump Jr has been more closely linked to Russian interefrence in last year’s election.

The Hill: Comey’s private memos on Trump conversations contained classified material

More than half of the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton over in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.

Comey testified last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a friend.

Comey insisted in his testimony he believed his personal memos were unclassified, though he hinted one or two documents he created might have been contained classified information.

President Trump dived in to that –  Trump on Monday morning tweeted out an angry response: “James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!”

But his son Donald trump Jr has been linked more closely to Russian interference in the election.

NY Times: Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information.

There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. The meeting took place less than a week before it was widely reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the committee’s servers.

But the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

And the NY Times now has a copy of the email: Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said

The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.

He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a “Russian government attorney.”

Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would most likely bring along “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers.

The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

This is now under more investigation.

The Justice Department, as well as the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, is examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

Trump Jr has been defending himself via Twitter.

On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. said on Twitter that it was hardly unusual to take information on an opponent.

On Tuesday morning, he tweeted, “Media & Dems are extremely invested in the Russia story. If this nonsense meeting is all they have after a yr, I understand the desperation!”

After being told that The Times was about to publish the content of the emails, instead of responding to a request for comment, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out images of them himself on Tuesday.

“To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails” about the June 9 meeting, he wrote. “I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet.”

Both Putin and President Trump have tried to distance themselves.

A spokesman for Mr. Putin said on Monday that he did not know Ms. Veselnitskaya and that he had no knowledge of the June 2016 meeting.

Back in Washington, both the White House and a spokesman for President Trump’s lawyer have taken pains to distance the president from the meeting, saying that he did he not attend it and that he learned about it only recently.

So his sone, his son-in-law and and his campaign boss said nothing to him at the time? And have said nothing to him since, even though it has been a prominent ongoing topic?

The president has denied any collusion with Russia over the election, but he looks like he could sink into the mire.

This draining the swamp thing may take a while yet.

Especially when the Trumps look as murky as anyone else.

UPDATE: Murkier

The Nation – candidates on ‘the big issues’

On The Nation this morning Lisa Owens “talks to more would-be MPs about the big issues”.

The candidates:

Priyanca Radhakrishnan –  union member and a member of the Asia New Zealand Foundation Leadership Network and the National Council of Women (Auckland). Labour candidate for Maungakiekie, 12 on the Labour list so has a good chance of becoming an MP.

Brooke van Velden a public relations consultant and ACT candidate for Auckland Central. The ACT list will be announced this weekend. Interview on RNZ.

Jack McDonald – Ko Taranaki te Iwi. Green candidate for Te Tai Hauāuru and Māori Communications Advisor. at 13 on gthe party list he has a good chance of becoming an MP.

Erica Stanfordstaffer for Murray McCully, has has worked overseas in export sales roles. National candidate for East Coast Bays, should win a safe electorate.

To much to cover on the fly here, but Lisa is putting all four on the spot over personal views and positions versus their party policies and positions. A lot of avoiding of addressing these questions.

They all struggled a bit, it’s the deep end of politics so quite a challenge.

Stanford got feisty at times once she warmed up but tried to disguise what seemed like a lack of general political issues knowledge by focussing on electorate representation, which where she is likely to start her political career.

McDonald was well versed in Green policy and diverted to party speak, avoiding direct answers to most questions. When challenged on Greens lack of focus on environmental issues he quoted the party’s four foundation aims but later comments were on social rather than environmental issues.

When it was suggested that the Greens could and should work with any party on environmental issues he said it was “unfathomable” for the Green Party to work with National in Government.

Priyanca was asked if her being a student immigrant clashed with Labour’s clampdown on immigration which had her scrambling a bit. She mostly recited party mantra.

van Velden looked the most in the deep end, struggling quite a lot. She sometimes switched to ACT policy but had difficulty answering general questions that put her on the spot.

Phil O’Reilly on the panel discussion: “In the Green Room you could cut the ambition with a knife’.

Video: The would-be MPs

Transcript: Lisa Owen interviews new candidates

 

 

How good was Newsroom’s journalism?

There is no doubt that Newsroom journalist Melanie Reid extensively investigated the Todd Barclay story that hit the headlines all through yesterday. It has been hailed by many as great journalism, and to an extent that is fair praise.

But I want to raise questions about how the story was published that other media probably won’t say anything about.

The publishing of the story – actually multiple stories – looks like a carefully orchestrated hit.

It will have taken some time to investigate and write up.

It was likely to that they deliberate broke the story on a Tuesday morning, the first day of the week that Parliament sits. Fair enough, they have to decide some time to publish, and that’s when MPs are usually readily available for responses.

They didn’t just publish the whole story. They published the first hit at about 8 am. They held back more details until later in the day. Why? Good journalism? To maximise publicity and website hits? I guess that’s part of the media game these days.

They published two follow up stories late in the afternoon. Why hold those back?

They have promised another story today.  Last night Tim Murphy at Newsroom promised more via Twitter: “There’s at least one more lie to come in the morning.  “.

Is the drip feeding of a story good journalism, or is it trying to catch MPs out in not telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

I’ve seen activists describe these tactics for political hit jobs – hold back details in the hope that their targets will compromise themselves.

It is often said (and I saw it yesterday) that it’s not the political ‘crime’ that does the damage, it’s the way it is dealt with by the targets. (Update: Andrew Little was just quoted on RNZ saying this).

The aim is to stir things up with a story and then hope that the target compromises themselves further by lying or reacting badly to try and cover up or minimise their exposure.

Is it good journalism to play this game?

Or, once they have done their good journalistic investigating shouldn’t they just come out with everything they have?

I may have it wrong, but I got the feeling yesterday that Newsroom were not just reporting what they had discovered, they were trying to maximise the impact on the targets of their story.

I got the feeling that they had a dagger blow, but were stabbing for maximum political blood, not just reporting.

The lines can be very blurred between political activism and media.

Most journalists and opponents of the Government will applaud yesterday’s stories as a well researched, well planned and well executed hit.

The media  can be very powerful. They can influence major political outcomes (like US presidential elections and referendums on major changes to the European Union).

Newsroom’s stories will make some difference in our election this year. They could quite feasibly be a significant factor in changing our Government.

Should we just accept that media are as much a part of the political game playing as anyone?

 

What does the UK election mean for NZ?

What does the UK election result mean for New Zealand politics? Not as much as some enthusiasts for a Labour revival here seem to think. The situation in the UK is vastly different to here in New Zealand, except perhaps that they both had unpopular leaders of parties struggling to be liked.

Brexit

New Zealand has nothing like Brexit. The UK is planning to go through a massive change by severing it’s European Union ties, while New Zealand is chugging along fairly well and uncontroversially.

Terrorism and Immigration

New Zealand doesn’t have a terrorism problem, and we also don’t have anywhere near the level of immigration issues that the UK has (many of their immigration issues are closely tied to being in the EU).

UKIP and SNP

The collapse of the UKIP vote and the significant losses for the Scottish National Party (they lost a third of their vote share and over a third of their MPS) and the redistribution of votes to Labour and to a lesser extent the Conservatives has no obvious parallel here.

FPP versus MMP

New Zealand has the moderating influence of MMP, under which no party has ever held an absolute majority and coalition governments are normal and expected.

This is in contrast to the UK which has the archaic FPP system still and the ‘hung Parliament’ scenario was big news. A governing  arrangement between the Conservatives and probably DUP is seen as potentially weak and there have been suggestions the UK may have to go to another election sooner rather than later.

The rise of Corbyn

Some on the left here are seeing Corbyn’s rise, albeit short of a victory, as a great ‘win’ for the left and will be encouraged.

No doubt there will be more and louder calls for NZ Labour to swing further left and campaign on similar issues that were successful for UK Labour. This may well influence Labour here, but it may not turn out to be wise.

Health

One issue in the UK that seems to have been important is their health system. Labour here have health as one of their key issues. Andrew Little has lost credibility over his persistence in talking up (erroneously) health cuts.  I presume Labour will keep trying to get some traction on it.

Housing

Housing doesn’t seem to have been a significant issue in the UK, but it is here, especially in Auckland. That is as much a local body issue as a national political issue but is likely to be a factor in our election in September.

Snap Election

One message that should have been clearly received by New Zealand parties and leaders is the folly of calling a snap election for no good constitutional reason. We haven’t had a snap election under MMP and are unlikely to in the foreseeable future.

Polls

Another key message is that polls are an approximate indication of support only, and they can move quite quickly in a short time in an election campaign.

There are signs also that a significant proportion of voters either don’t give accurate responses to pollsters, or change their minds late.

English and Little

I think in our election a lot will depend on how Bill English and Andrew Little shape up.

English is not very colourful but has vast political and governing experience and has an in depth knowledge of economic issues and a wide range of other issues.

Little is dour. He may find a way of connecting during the campaign, but I think his biggest weakness contrasts with English’s strength – he doesn’t seem to have picked up a huge amount of in depth knowledge of issues, and he is poor at thinking on his feet during interviews. Unless he masters this he may get caned in debates with English, and that may well decide this election.

In fact May campaigned poorly, avoided debates and was strongly criticised for bland recitals rather than sounding intelligent and being on top of the issues. That sounds more like how Little is.

Labour here will get a lot of confidence from the resurgence of UK Labour and the improvement of Corbyn. Little badly needs a confidence boost. He may lift himself after the UK result.

National should also have learned from the UK result, from May’s poor performance, a poorly run campaign, and arrogance.

There are some things to learn here from the UK experience, but there are also  significant differences.

UK election aftermath

The UK election is over, resulting in a hung Parliament, about the worst thing that could have happened with Brexit to deal with shortly.

But despite her quest for more power and dumping a snap election on Labour backfiring Theresa May has not mucked around.

The biggest losers, apart from May’s credibility, were UKIP, who lost 108% of the vote. They dropped to just 1.8% and lost their only seat.

Labour increased their share of the vote by 5.5% to 42.4%, while the Conservatives increased their’s by less, 5.5%, but still got the most at 42.4%.

BBC:  May to form ‘government of certainty’ with DUP backing

Theresa May has said she will put together a government with the support of the Democratic Unionists to guide the UK through crucial Brexit talks.

Speaking after visiting Buckingham Palace, she said only her party had the “legitimacy” to govern, despite falling eight seats short of a majority.

In a short statement outside Downing Street after an audience with the Queen, Mrs May said she would join with her DUP “friends” to “get to work” on Brexit.

Referring to the “strong relationship” she had with the DUP but giving little detail of how their arrangement might work, she said she intended to form a government which could “provide certainty and lead Britain forward at this critical time for our country”.

“Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years,” she said.

“And this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”

It is thought Mrs May will seek some kind of informal arrangement with the DUP that could see it “lend” its support to the Tories on a vote-by-vote basis, known as “confidence and supply”.

Later, she said she “obviously wanted a different result” and was “sorry” for colleagues who lost their seats.

“I’m sorry for all those candidates… who weren’t successful, and also particularly sorry for MPs and ministers who’d contributed so much to our country, and who lost their seats and didn’t deserve to lose their seats.

“As I reflect on the results, I will reflect on what I need to do in the future to take the party forward.”

So for now at least all the speculation and demands that she step down as Conservative leader and Prime Minister were meaningless.

But Labour said they were the “real winners”.

They gained a lot of votes (9.5% up to 40.0%) and some seats (up 29 to 261) but still lost the election. They still have Jeremy Corbyn as leader, hailed as an election hero and it will be difficult to budge him now, but still out of government possibly for the next five years.

BBC: Jeremy Corbyn says May ‘underestimated’ voters

Jeremy Corbyn has said Theresa May “underestimated” voters and the Labour Party after the Tories failed to win an overall majority in the election.

He said people had voted “for hope” after his party secured 261 seats in Parliament.

The Labour leader called on Mrs May to resign after the Conservatives were left eight seats short of a majority.

“Your vote for us was a vote for change, a vote for our country and a vote for hope,” he said.

“But she underestimated the Labour Party, and more importantly, she underestimated you.”

He went on to say Theresa May called the general election “in her party’s interests, not in the interests of the country” and thought she could “take your vote for granted”.

To an extent Corbyn is correct, May made a silly decision to call a snap election and campaigned terribly, but Corbyn and Labour are still in opposition for now at least.

Not enough of “the people” chose to ditch May and the Conservatives.

The Lib Dems said Mrs May should be “ashamed” of carrying on.

BBC:  Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says May should go

Theresa May must resign and Brexit negotiations should be put on hold, the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said.

He said talks about leaving the EU should be delayed until the new government sets out its plans to the public.

And he insisted there would be no deal to prop up a Tory government.

“Like David Cameron before her, our Conservative prime minister rolled the dice with the future of our country out of sheer arrogance and vanity,” he said.

“It is simply inconceivable that the prime minister can begin the Brexit negotiations in just two weeks’ time.

“She should consider her future – and then, for once, she should consider the future of our country.”

But it was a mixed election for the Liberal Democrats. They gained 4 seats (now 12) but lost some MPs and votes, dropping half a percent to 7.4%.

Mr Farron’s comments came after a night which saw the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg lose his seat to the Labour Party in Sheffield Hallam, becoming the first major figure to fall in the 2017 election.

But former ministers Vince Cable and Jo Swinson both won back their seats after losing them in 2015.

And Mr Farron kept his seat of Westmorland and Lonsdale, although his majority fell from 8,949 to just 777.

The big question now: Who are the Democratic Union Party?

They won 10 seats, up 2, and 292,316 votes, 0.9% of the total.

Theresa May has said she will form a government with the support of the DUP, though it is not clear what kind of arrangement this will be.

Despite party leader Arlene Foster warning it would be difficult for the prime minister to stay in No 10, discussions are certainly going on behind the scenes.

The party has moved on to the political centre stage but most people will be in the dark about what it stands for.

The DUP website crashed on Friday morning after a surge of interest, and DUP was also one of the most searched terms on Google.

Basically, they are pro-union (not Europe but UK), pro-Brexit and socially conservative.

The party, which returned 10 MPs to Westminster, has garnered a bit of a reputation for its strong and controversial views.

It opposes same-sex marriage and is anti-abortion – abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland, except in specific medical cases.

Mervyn Storey, the party’s former education spokesman, once called for creationism – the belief that human life did not evolve over millions of years but was created by God – to be taught alongside evolution in science classes.

In December, the DUP’s Trevor Clarke was criticised by Sir Elton John after the politician admitted he did not know heterosexual people could contract HIV until a charity explained the facts to him.

Fairly conservative then, on social issues at least.

Then there’s the party’s historical links to loyalist paramilitaries.

During this general election campaign, the DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly received the endorsement of the three biggest loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Although the DUP said it did not accept their support, in her acceptance speech, Mrs Little-Pengelly thanked those who came out to vote for her, singling out several loyalist working class areas in Belfast.

The DUP was a wholehearted supporter of Brexit and got heavily involved in the Leave campaign.

After Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland becomes an EU frontier and the DUP is not in favour of a so-called hard border. This means no checkpoints or intrusive enforcement.

So no hard border but in the round, the party’s vision of Brexit is a fairly hard one – it was the most Eurosceptic party in the UK before the ascent of UKIP.

The party also wants to leave the EU customs union – their manifesto says there should be “progress on new free trade deals with the rest of the world” – and end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, ensuring that in future British law is supreme.

One red line is the idea of Northern Ireland being granted some sort of “special status” when Brexit comes to pass – the DUP will not stand for any arrangement that physically sets the region apart from anywhere else in the UK.

Its 2017 manifesto set out its position on Brexit and other issues, including:

  • Further increases to the personal tax allowance – similar to Conservative Party policy
  • Continued rises in the national living wage – similar
  • Renew Trident – similar
  • Revisit terrorism laws – similar
  • Abolish air passenger duty – different from the Conservatives
  • Cut VAT for tourism businesses – different
  • Call for “triple lock” on pensions – different

Its key slogan during the campaign turned out to be rather prescient: “A vote for the DUP team is a vote to send ‘Team Northern Ireland’ to Westminster. It is a team that has real influence”.

It looks like DUP may have real influence now.

UK election results today

Voting continues in the UK general election at the moment. Polling stations close at 10 pm – UK time is 11 hours behind (their daylight saving time) – so that will be 9 am NZ time.

Polling stations will close at 10pm this evening and an eagerly anticipated exit poll will follow shortly after.

The reason it is so eagerly anticipated? Exit polls are almost always in the right ball park when it comes to predicting the final result.

So we should get an idea from the exit polls mid morning here, with more detailed results coming out through the our day.

Despite the polls closing dramatically during the campaign it seems unlikely they will have closed enough for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour to beat the current Prime Minister Theresa May.

The Telegraph:  General Election 2017 Live: Polls predict Tory win as May and Corbyn vote 

Theresa May is on course to increase her majority in the House of Commons with a final General Election 2017 poll giving the Tories a lead of eight points over Labour as the nation heads to the ballot box.

The Conservatives had as much as a 24 point lead when the snap election was called by the Prime Minister.

But Ipsos MORI’s final 2017 election survey for the Evening Standard, which was undertaken on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, puts the Conservatives on 44 per cent and Labour on 36.

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll that was published on Wednesday evening put the Tories on 42 per cent and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party on 35, a lead of seven points.

So it looks like the Conservatives should win fairly comfortably unless there is an unprecedented poll discrepancy.

The results will emerge from the UK during our day here.

EVENING UPDATE:

BBC Summary

  1. General election ends in a hung Parliament
  2. Conservatives set to win 318 seats
  3. Labour predicted to get 262
  4. Theresa May promises ‘period of stability’, but Jeremy Corbyn urges her to quit
  5. Nick Clegg loses his seat, but Sir Vince Cable is re-elected
  6. SNP’s Westminster leader loses his seat

http://www.bbc.com/news/live/election-2017-40171454

There are 650 seats so 326 are needed for a majority, theoretically, but Sinn Fein don’t front up, and as they have 7 seats (at this stage) 323 should be enough.  But May’s gamble has come up short. She may be able to get support from one or more other parties but that weakens the Conservatives considerably, which is the opposite of what May wanted.

A blatant pitch for more power has backfired. The big lesson for New Zealand is the danger of having self serving snap elections.

Final day of UK campaign

Can Theresa May lose what appeared to be an unlosable election for the Conservatives?

Can Jeremy Corbyn claim a miracle victory, despite the Labour caucus being in turmoil before the campaign began?

The Telegraph:  General election polls: Latest tracker and odds

The final General Election polls – all published before polling booths open – have showed that the gap between the Tories and Labour has remained at six points, after a Labour surge that saw the gap close dramatically.

The poll from Survation has the Tory lead at just one point over Labour, while ComRes has it standing at 12 points, as Jeremy Corbyn appeared on the BBC’s Leaders Debate while Theresa May boycotted it.

The Telegraph’s UK General Election polling averages:

UKPollTracker2017

According to the latest forecast by the University of East Anglia’s Chris Hanretty, the Conservatives would still gain a strong majority in Parliament.

Thanks to seat gains in the North of England and Scotland, Theresa May would benefit from a swing of 45 seats and end up with 375 MPs in Parliament.

The election is on Thursday 8 June, with polling between 7 am and 10 pm, so the results should be known sometime during Friday in New Zealand.

Clinton excuses again

I don’t know why Hillary Clinton has chosen to launch another round of excuses for losing the presidential election, but she doesn’t seem to be scoring much sympathy.

Fox News: Clinton says she takes responsibility for loss to Trump — but blames plenty

Hillary Clinton says she’s not running for president again, but she may be running out of excuses for why she lost the White House to President Trump.

Former FBI Director James Comey, Facebook, The New York Times, Russia, WikiLeaks, misogyny, the pressure of high expectations and the Democratic National Committee have been among the people, organizations and attitudes Clinton has saddled with responsibility in recent days for her stunning November loss.

Clinton, who has said she’s writing another book, has often told her interviewers she takes “absolute personal responsibility” for the loss. However, in other questions, she’s spread the blame liberally.

This time she let rip at the Democrat Party.

The former Democratic standard-bearer was perhaps her most forthcoming at Recode, even slamming her party for an inept election operation.

“It was bankrupt, it was on the verge of insolvency, its data was mediocre to poor, non-existent, wrong,” Clinton said. “I had to inject money into it – the DNC – to keep it going.”

The media were a factor that had to be managed, but that worked for and against both candidates.

Clinton on Wednesday night also took aim at The New York Times – typically viewed as a left-leaning publication – for treating her secret server scandal “like it was Pearl Harbor.”

James Comey’s intervention obviously damaged Clinton’s chances but that was because she was already on shaky ground.

And the man in charge of that server investigation, Comey, didn’t escape Clinton’s wrath, either – particularly at issue for Clinton was the letter Comey sent to Congress late in the campaign announcing new evidence in the case may have been discovered. Comey ultimately never recommended Clinton be prosecuted.

Then a Clayton’s excuse:

“I take responsibility for every decision I make – but that’s not why I lost,” Clinton said Wednesday at the Recode Code Conference in California.

She lost because she and her campaign were not good enough against one of the most flawed and vulnerable opponents imaginable.

Chris Cillizza at CNN: In election blame game, it’s time for Hillary Clinton to take her share

Hillary Clinton’s list of who’s to blame for her 2016 election loss gets longer with every passing day.

On Wednesday, in an interview with Recode’s Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, Clinton added a few more names to her list: The New York Times and the Democratic National Committee. That’s in addition to the media, James Comey, Donald Trump, the Russians and her supporters’ assumptions that she would win the race.

The one person missing from that list? Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Sure, in her Recode interview, Clinton made passing reference — as she has done in her other post-election appearances — to the idea that she made mistakes.

“I take responsibility for every decision I make — but that’s not why I lost,” she said.

The first half of that sentence is pure politician speak; the second half is what Clinton really believes.

Whining over half a year later is not going to change the result, and worse, it is unlikely to help the Democrats move on and sort themselves out.

The truth of the matter is this: Hillary Clinton’s name was at the top of the campaign and signed on the checks her staff received. It was her decision to set up a private email server and exclusively use it for her communications as secretary of state — the first person in her position to do that.

She was the one who kept giving high-paid speeches to the likes of Goldman Sachs even after it was clear she was going to run for president. (“They paid me,” Clinton explained Wednesday.)

She was the one who struggled to grasp — despite the repeated warnings of her staff — that the email issue was causing her major image problems on questions of honesty and trustworthiness.

She was the one who struggled to put away a once-quixotic challenge by Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.

She was the one who premised her entire general election strategy on the idea that once voters knew who Trump was and what he said, they would have no choice but to vote for her.

She’s the one who decided against visiting Wisconsin even one time between the Democratic convention and the general election.

All of those things played roles — you can debate how big or how small — in her loss. And Clinton had control of every single one.

There’s something worse than a loser in politics – a sore loser who won’t accept their failings and flaws.

And the more Clinton goes on and on making excuses and blaming everyone and everything else for her failure the worse it gets.