‘Name the date, or we’ll take you out’

November 21, 2006

Michael Connarty MP has an idea in the House Magazine out this week.  It’s a pretty tough proposal:

“Blair will have to name the day he is going and clear up the leadership transition or the unions will have to take him out – they’re the only ones with the muscle”.

The opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect the views of The Daily’s writers.  Well, not all of them anyway.


The gender gap III

November 17, 2006

Following earlier discussions on the gap in voting intentions between male and female voters, YouGov pollster Anthony Wells has done an interesting analysis of YouGov polling data over the past couple of years, plotting the Tory lead among men and women.

It certainly seems that, at least over the last year or so, there has been a greater Tory lead among women. It should, however, be noted that the Tory lead is not the same as the Tory vote share. It may well be the case that the Tories are doing no better among women, but simply that Labour is doing worse.

That would seem to chime with this analysis done by Ipsos-MORI for the Fawcett Society. For polling geeks, it is well worth a read and confirms some of the suggestions we made earlier in the week.

There are considerable differences between sections of female opinion, particularly across different age groups. The Tories actually dipped under 20% among young women over summer but are gaining support among older women, a critical demographic as they are numerous and likely to vote.

However, contrary to the impression given by some commentary in the press, Cameron is actually less popular among women than among men – though Blair is less popular still. It seems that women have been more turned off than men by both of the main parties and their leaders since they voted in 2005.

We have looked at some of the possible reasons for that already, but it was interesting to see MORI’s analysis of political priorities by gender. The most striking difference is in the priority given to the NHS by women and combined with the fact that women have become far more dissatisfied than men with the NHS since the election, it seems that this must be a major factor in the gender gap.

Ironically, this has occurred under a female Health Secretary, but as women are far more likely (a gap of around ten points) to want her sacked than men are, it would seem that they are no more forgiving of a female minister than a male one if they don’t like the policies.


US mid-terms in perspective

November 16, 2006

Chris Bowers looks back at the mid-terms to take stock of what the Democrats actually won now that the dust has settled.

In state legislative bodies, Democrats control 56 chambers, Republicans control 40. Two, the Montana House (previously tied) and the Pennsylvania House (previously Republican controlled) are undecided. Democrats took nine legislative chambers, and lost none. The gains came in Indiana (House), Iowa (House and Senate), Michigan (House), Minnesota (House), New Hampshire (House and Senate), Oregon (House), and Wisconsin (Senate). The Iowa Senate was previously tied, and the Oklahoma Senate, previously controlled by Democrats, is also now tied. I believe, however, that the tie in the Oklahoma Senate goes to Democrats, because we have the Governorship there.

Democrats control 3,964 state legislature seats, and Republicans control 3,307. I do not know how many are controlled by third parties, or are currently undecided. Democrats also have a non-southern majority in state legislature seats for the first time in many years.

It’s an interesting post worth reading. As he says:

We have now almost entirely restocked our bench following the 1994 elections. Our list of potential candidates for higher office at every level is now much longer than it was only six years ago. We also are in a position to favorably remake electoral maps in than we were six years ago.


Senate race latest: analysis

November 8, 2006

Control of the Senate currently rests in a few ballot boxes in Montana and Virginia.  As the UK media seem to lack any eye for detail (did anyone else see any of the appallingly bad coverage on Sky News overnight?) we thought we’d bring you a bit of proper analysis.

In Montana, we are waiting on the results from Meagher County.  As it stands, Democratic challenger Jon Tester is just over 1700 votes ahead.  Meagher is a traditional rural Republican county which went 72% for Bush in ’04.  However, it is sparsely populated and normally only around a thousand of its residents turn out to vote.  In theory, scandal-plagued Republican incumbent Conrad Burns could still turn it round, but in practice there just won’t be enough votes there unless something very suspicious happens.

More critical will be the rules about a recount – if the result is within a quarter of a percent then under Montana law the loser can request a recount and the State picks up the tab.  A quarter of a percent would be about a thousand votes – so a good turnout from Meagher County would mean Burns gets a recount on the taxpayer, which he would probably take.  If he is up to half a percent off, then he has to pick up the tab himself.

So, touching every available wood surface in The Daily’s newsroom, we reckon it’s a Tester victory in this count, but with a strong chance that there will be a recount and no final result for days.

The situation is similar in Virginia.  Democratic challenger Jim Webb has a lead of just under 8000 over gaffe-prone GOP incumbent George Allen.  There are precincts still to report in Loudoun County, Fairfax City and the Isle of Wight (no, really).  Loudoun breaks pretty evenly, Fairfax leans Democratic and Isle of Wight leans Republican.  The latter is more populous than Fairfax but there are more precincts still to go there.  Though it may be Republican areas still to report, it’s extremely hard – again, touching wood – to see how Allen can find the numbers of votes to make a shock comeback.

But again, under Virginia state law, he can ask for a recount if the result is under 1% which seems certain.  So, both states may well end up recounting votes over the days ahead, with the US Senate majority depending how the hanging chads land.

18.20 update****

AP are now reporting that Tester has claimed victory in Montana. No info yet on whether there will be a recount, but at the very least, it would appear that the Republicans have lost their majority in the Senate. It now only remains to be seen if there will be a dead heat of 50/50 with Dick Cheney breaking the deadlock with the speaker’s casting vote, or whether the Democratic Party can get a majority of one senator.

In other news, Don Rumsfeld has resigned and will be replaced by former CIA head Robert Gates.


Vote US – was it the minimum wage wot won it?

November 8, 2006

It’s been an exciting night for progressives with an eye on the US mid-term elections. When the final Daily chimp blew out the candle on his desk and hit the hay, it was all in the balance in Virginia and Montana, and the Republicans still leading in Montana. The latest figures are showing Democrat Jon Tester with his nose ahead of incumbent Conrad Burns by a mere 5,000-odd votes. Webb is also still just ahead of Allen in Virginia.

A big part of Rove’s strategy in previous elections has been the use of initiative votes to galvanise and mobilise the Republican base on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. This year, it seems that one of the decisive factors in this year’s races may have been ballot initiatives on the minimum wage. The Democrats have made the raising of the federal minimum wage one of their big campaigning issues.

Daily Kos have figures for some of the ballot initiatives. Although they’ve headlined on South Dakota’s rejection of new anti-abortion laws, the minimum wage initiatives in three states may be more interesting for the overall results of the election.
Missouri voted 75% Yes; 25% No to raise the minimum wage.
Montana voted 74% Yes; 26% No
Ohio 56% Yes; 44% No

Montana seems to have been the closest race in the Senate for the Democrats. If Tester does sneak it, then surely having this issue mobilising his voters must have been a big factor.


Dems take House, Senate in the balance

November 8, 2006

The Daily’s team is about to go to sleep, but in the unlikely event that you we are your first port of call for breaking US election news, it now seems certain that the Democrats are set to take the House by a comfortable, if not crushing, margin. Though there are still a couple of Democratic House seats under threat in Georgia, they should hang on and seem set for further gains.

There are a number of extremely tight results, not least the loss of disgraced internet predator Mark Foley’s previously rock solid Republican district in Florida by less than one percent, but we were pleased to see Curt Weldon crushingly defeated in his also previously safe Pennsylvanian seat.

Things are harder to judge in the Senate.  Racist scandal plagued Virginia Senator George Allen looked set to hang on by the slimmest of margins all night, until the last ballot boxes came in from solid Democratic areas and tipped the balance. 99% of votes have been counted and the Dems have a lead of a few thousand with the last districts still to report in heavily blue counties.  Either way, the loser has a right to a recount when the majority is under 1% so it might not be the end of the story. Updates here.

To take the Senate, the Dems would also need to finish off Conrad Burns in Montana and take Missouri.  The Republican incumbent is currently 3% ahead in the latter race with nearly 70% of votes tallied, so it will be tough. 

For any insomniac political junkies are out there, the best news website for incoming results is CNN. Fingers crossed for the Dems, and we’ll be back in the morning afternoon.


Bernie Sanders: the game

November 7, 2006

At some point tonight, Vermont’s sitting Congressman Bernie Sanders will be elected America’s only Independent Socialist Senator.  We hope that this is part of a wave that sweeps away Republican control, but it looks too close to call at the moment, so we are preparing to celebrate whatever victory we can.

However, for those who may be bored in the meantime, we have discovered the Bernie Arcade game.  How many other politicians could get away with this?