Idiots

August 5, 2011 § 3 Comments

Hello,

The rest of Fiji coming soon but first I have to draw a table for idiots who think the death penalty is normal.

The most barbaric countries in the world:

Country

 Number executed in 2010

 Population  One execution per
Equatorial Guinea                                   4                         700,000                                  175,000
People’s Republic of China                             5,000                1,339,724,852                                  267,945
Iran                                252                     75,532,000                                  299,730
Libya                                 18                       6,355,000                                  353,056

North Korea

                                60                     24,346,000                                  405,767
Yemen                                 53                     22,492,035                                  424,378
Palestinian Authority                                   5                       3,935,249                                  787,050
Saudi Arabia                                 27                     27,136,977                              1,005,073
Somalia                                   8                       9,331,000                              1,166,375
Bahrain                                   1                       1,262,000                              1,262,000
Syria                                 17                     23,695,000                              1,393,824
Botswana                                   1                       1,800,098                              1,800,098
Belarus                                   2                       9,469,000                              4,734,500
Sudan                                   6                     30,894,000                              5,149,000
Taiwan                                   4                     23,174,528                              5,793,632
United States                                 46                   311,901,000                              6,780,457
Bangladesh                                   9                   151,030,000                            16,781,111
Egypt                                   4                     80,619,000                            20,154,750
Malaysia                                   1                     27,565,821                            27,565,821
Iraq                                   1                     31,672,000                            31,672,000
Japan                                   2                   127,950,000

                           63,975,000

And those were the only poor sods executed last year because it is a barbaric practice that nobody in their right mind condones any more.

The US midterms live blog

November 2, 2010 § 22 Comments

 

Blue=Democrats and Red =Republicans

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity:

Hello, good evening and welcome. I will be updating this page as results come in using the comments section throughout the night as well as tweeting on @whoruleswhere.

We have already profiled the senate and house races here, the state and gubernatorial races here, and the campaign adverts here.

Going in, the last round of polls suggest the Democrats might keep the Senate whilst the house is too close to call but could well go Republican.

The Republicans need to win 10 Democrat seats to win control of the Senate. The latest polls suggest that they are comfortably ahead in Arkansas (19% lead), Indiana (19% lead),  and North Dakota (47% lead). They should also pick up Pennsylvania (6% lead) and Wisconsin (7% lead). That gets them half way there, the rest are within the margin of error.

The Republicans lead in Illinois (by 3%), Colorado (by 2%), and Nevada (by 2%). However they trail in Washington (by 2%) and West Virginia (by 4%).

Moreover, even were the Republicans to take all five, they may need one more as polls suggest that Independent former Republican Lisa Murkowski is leading in Alaska by 5% (with the Democrat only 2% behind the Republican). Lisa Murkowski’s is a write in campaign, her name does not appear on the ballot (and isn’t the easiest to spell), so the 5% margin might not be enough to become only the second ever person elected to federal office via a write in ballot (the first was Strom Thurmond running as a Dixiecrat in South Carolina in 1954) – but it might be.

If she does pull it off then things look grim for the Republicans. Their two next best bets are California (Democrat lead of 5%) and Connecticut (Democrat lead of 9%). Or they might be able to persuade Lisa Murkowski to caucus with them.

As for the house, it depends what model you use to predict the results but “too close to call/Republican win” seems to be the overall verdict. Remember the magic number for control is 218

Electoral vote’s model gives Republican 216, Democrat 202, too close to call 17

Nate Silver’s model gives Republican 233, Democrat 202

Center for Politics’ model gives Republican 234, Democrat 201, (58 of the predicted Republican wins and 28 of the predicted Democrat wins are within the “leans” – ie doubtful – category)

The Cook Report’s model gives Republican 204, Democrat 181, too close to call 50

Real Clear Politics’s model gives Republican 224, Democrat 167, too close to call 44

The New York Times’s model gives Republicans 203, Democrats 190, too close to call 42

So there we have it. It should be an interesting night. Depending on your politics it could be depressing. I’m going to put up my favourite picture of all time so, no matter how bad the results are for you, we can still all smile:

Mccain

Guest post: US Mid-Terms – Governor and State

November 1, 2010 § 5 Comments

Here is the second half of our analysis of the US mid-terms, provided once again by Britain Votes‘s Tom Harris. The first half is here.

Although Congress is where most of the Mid-Term attention is directed, many states will also be electing their Governors and State Legislatures next Tuesday. The obvious reason the Congressional elections are the main concern is because they will have an immediately impact on the national politics. The State level elections will not have the same initial affect, however there are a couple of reasons why they shouldn’t be ignored.

Firstly, State Governorships are the traditional breeding group for future Presidents. Don’t be fooled by the 2008 election where all three main candidates were Senators; experience as Governor of a big state is an extremely useful job to have at the top of your CV when running for the top job. Indeed, the three two-term Presidents of the last thirty years were all Governors before they ran for President – Regan (California), Clinton (Arkansas) and Bush II (Texas). On top of that 2010 is a special year at state level as there is a new census to be published. Unlike Britain, most US states do not have an independent commission to administer boundary changes following a new census. If as state gains or loses a seat in the redistricting then the state legislatures divide up the state and send the proposals to the Governor for approval. If one party controls the legislative branch and the other the executive then both sides will need to compromise. However, if one party holds both of the State’s Houses and the Governorship then they have free reign to make sure they benefit from the new boundaries. Ever wondered where the term Gerrymandering came from? Well, it’s named after Gov. Gerry of Massachusetts, who is regarded as the founder of this delightful practise.

As in the last post I informed you of an impending GOP wave in the Congressional elections you may be imagining lots of smiling Republicans across the country waiting to wipe the Democrats of the map. So may wish to, but the practicalities make the truth a little different. Firstly, the US isn’t as divided as the Presidential map looks. A much better reflection of the political make up is the map below, which gives the results by county and the scale by population.

Blue=Democrats and Red =Republicans

Blue=Democrats, Red=Republicans

Although some states always vote for one party in the big elections, it is rarely by more than 60% of the vote. Not only does that make it difficult, although not impossible, to shut the opposition party out when redistricting, often they do much better in State elections anyway. The Democrats are especially good at controlling legislatures in states they loses badly in Presidential elections. For instance, McCain won Alabama 60-39 in 2008, but the Democrats have controlled both houses in the state for over a century!

So, what we really need to look at are the states where both chambers and the Governorship could all fall into the hands of either party. Conveniently, the National Conference of State Legislatures has produced a list of chambers which may switch. Some of these are irrelevant to the redistricting because the states are so small, population wise, that nothing is likely to changes. Alaska is a prime example as it only has one seat in the House of Representatives. Even states with three or four Congressmen are going to struggle to get much of an advantage from redistricting. So I’ll concentrate on the larger states where the trifecta is possible for either the Republicans or the Democrats, or the races are quite interesting.

California is by far the biggest prize of them all, but it looks like it might be taken off the table. Californians like their direct democracy and they often vote on ballot initiatives, or referenda, at the same time as they elect their representatives. The most controversial this year is Proposition 19 which, if passed, will legalise marijuana. Proposition 20 is relatively boring, but hugely important. If it is passed it will hand redistricting powers to an independent body. There is little polling on the initiative but a similar proposition in 2008 narrowly passed. This set up the California Citizens Redistricting Commission which currently oversees the redistricting of state boundaries. If Proposition 20 does fail it is the Democrats who stand to profit. They currently hold both state legislatures and are ahead in the Governor race. Former Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and Meg Whitman (R) were neck and neck in the polls until the end of September. Whitman was campaigning hard to crack down on employers who take on illegal immigrants but then it emerged she herself had employed an illegal immigrant as her nanny. She has failed to recover and Brown looks set to win by a comfortable margin.

New York is another big state where the Democrats have their eye on the trifecta. Earlier in the cycle Andrew Cuomo (D) and Carl Paladino (R) looked set for a tight battle to become the next Governor of New York, but in the last two months the race has decisively swung in the Democrats favour. Cuomo is expected to win handily, and with the House also look to stick with the Democrats all eyes are on New York’s crazy Senate. Traditionally the Republicans control the upper house but in 2008 the Democrats secured a majority of 32-30, their first for over 40 years. However, in June 2009 the state was plunged into political uncertainly when two Democrats sided with the Republicans to oust the majority leader of the Senate. The move involved dubious procedures, and a blackout, thus creating a fair bit of controversy. Eventually the two Democrats returned to the fold and order was restored. If you have the time to delve into that more thoroughly then feel free, but for now it’s enough to say the New York Senate is a tad unpredictable. If the Democrats do manage to hold the Senate then they will probably be redrawing a state will one less Congressional District. Still, with 28 seats to play with there is certainly potential to skew the changes in your favour.

Florida is another large state with a close gubernatorial race. Gov. Charlie Christ (FL-I) decided to run for the open senate seat in the state, but as I summarised on Tuesday he isn’t doing to well. This has left an open Governorship in a state with 25 congressional seats and another one expected after the census. The Republicans currently hold both houses in Florida so all eyes are on the race to succeed Crist. Currently it is VERY close, with different polls showing Rick Scott (R) and Alex Sink (D) narrowly ahead. Given the history of close elections in Florida, and the amount at stake, this may not be over on the night.

Ohio and Pennsylvania both have similar situations developing with regards to control of their states. Currently the Democrats control the Governorship and the House in both states, but the Republicans hold the Senate. However, in both cases the Republicans are poised to win the gubernatorial race, and so the attention will then turn to the House. The Republicans just need to gain a couple of seats in each state to take control of the lower chambers, which is bad news for the Democrats. There are just under 20 Congressional districts in each state and although both are expected to lose out following the census reapportionment that’s a lot of material for the Republicans to work with. The Republicans are strong favourites to take the trifecta in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and as a result they’ll redistrict themselves a couple of extra Congressional seats.

The Democrats control both houses in Illinois and Wisconsin so the gubernatorial races in each state are hotly contested. I dealt with the strange situation in Illinois the other day, and this election is certainly tainted by the events of the last few years. Although the current Governor Pat Quinn (D-IL), who took over following Blagojevich’s impeachment, doesn’t appear to be personally tainted by the corruption scandal the Democrat brand isn’t doing too well locally or nationally. As a result Quinn has been trailing Bill Brady (R) quite consistently and it looks like the Republicans will win this by a small margin. Wisconsin is more clear cut. It is another state with close races for Senate and Governor but the Republicans have pulled out convincing leads in both races. Scott Walker (R) is seat to defeat Tom Barrett (D) by around 10 points in this open seat, denying the Democrats a prime redistricting opportunity.

The Democrats do, however, look set to secure the trifecta in Minnesota. They control both houses and the race for Governor has been consistently led by the Democratic candidate Mark Dayton. The Republicans, who currently hold the Governorship, have been hampered by a third party bid from a former Republican Tom Horner and as a result Tom Emmer (R) has struggled to get ahead in this one. Minnesota has a history of contentious redistricting legislation, often ending up in the courts, so the state may still be in the news even if the Democrats control the key institutions.

Tennessee is a much better bet for the Republicans as they hope to win the Governorship to add to their control of both legislative houses. Bill Haslam (R) had been leading Mike McWherter by up to 20 points so the Republicans are very comfortable here. They are also hoping to take the House in Indiana, where they already hold the Governorship and are unlikely to lose the Senate. Indiana is a Republican leaning swing state and so there is potential for them to gain a seat if they have full control of the districting process. They only need a net gain of three seats in the House to secure that full control, so things don’t look good for the Democrats here.

Elsewhere there are some gubernatorial races which are intriguing in their own right. In Colorado there appears to be a late swing towards the ex-Republican, Independent candidate Tom Tancredo. The Democrat John Hickenlooper has comfortably led throughout the cycle as the official Republican Dan Maes has been struggling with Tancredo for second place. During October, conservatives in Colorado seem to have got behind Tancredo as the best option to stop Hickenlooper and Maes has dropped as low as 10% in some polls. Still, Hickenlooper has consistently been polling over 50% so he seems likely to win.

In Rhode Island there is a genuine three way battle taking place with all three candidates polling between 25-35% recently. The former Republican senator Lincoln Chaffee decided early on to run as an Independent, which virtually destroyed any hope John Robitaille (R) had of winning. Chaffee is a popular figure in the state, and had always been tipped to do well, but the official Republican candidate is still polling strongly which has been helping Frank Caprio (D). In the last few weeks though the race has seemingly swung towards Chaffee and he is favourite going into Tuesday vote. However, with all three candidates so close pretty much anything can happen.

The final three-way race is in Maine, and it is favouring the Republican candidate. Maine was traditionally a Republican stronghold in New England, but recently the Democrats have taken over. This is an open seat though and Paul LePage (R) had been narrowly leading Libby Mitchell (D) throughout the summer. Recently, there has been a big shift of support towards the Independent candidate Eliot Cutler. Cutler has links to the Democrats, having worked in the Carter administration, and his candidacy seems to be spitting the Democrats support. It’s possible that LePage could win this win only 40% of the vote, although as the momentum is with Cutler it is possible some of Mitchell’s support will switch to prevent the Republicans winning. LePage is the favourite, but I wouldn’t rule out a surprise.

Finally, there are a couple of close races in straight battles between the two main parties. Brian Dubie was uncontested for the Republican nomination in Vermont but he led Peter Shumlin (D) in the few polls taken over the summer. In the last couple of months there have only been two polls, both showing the race within the Margin of Error. Because of the lack of polling it’s hard to tell which way this will fall. There has been a bit more attention paid to the race in Oregon where John Kitzhaber (D) just has the edge over Chris Dudley (R). Dudley has led in some recent polls, but most have shown a lead for Kitzhaber. None has given a large lead to either candidate though so the Governorship is very much up for grabs.

So there you have it. Hopefully this has provided a overview of the Mid-Term elections and covered all the key races to watch out for. If anyone is thinking of following the coverage on Tuesday, but are fearful of a very late night, there is no need to worry. The Americans finish vote very early compared to the British. Indiana and Kentucky close their polls at 6pm Eastern Time, which is 2200 over here. There will be a big batch of states finishing at 8pm E.T (0000) and an even bigger one at 9pm (0100) so it should be clear what is going on by around 0200 over here. @BritainVotes will be live tweeting from around 2200 (I have to watch Plymouth Argyle lose first) and we’ll be running through the night if anyone cares to join us!

Thanks Tom. In addition @whoruleswhere will be tweeting results and I will be updating a feed on this blog throughout the night. Until then I’ll be putting the various bits and bobs I find in the comments sections: on this article for State and Gubernatorial races and here for House and Senate races.

Guest post: United States Mid-Terms – Congress

October 26, 2010 § 5 Comments

It is a great pleasure to introduce another guest article. This time the other half of Britain Votes – Tom Harris – has been analysing the US mid terms for us. His analysis of the gubernatorial races will follow later in the week. Here’s Tom:

On 2nd November Americans will head to the polls for their mid-term elections. There’s nothing quite like the pomp of a US election and, for all the faults in the system, they aren’t half entertaining. When you consider there are twelve states with electorates bigger than that for the Greater London Authority, and that Californian economy the 8th largest in the world, it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about. If anything the Mid-Term Elections are more enthralling than a Presidential year, as the scores of interesting Congressional and Gubernatorial elections get drowned out by the race for the White House.

The Democrats look set to ‘lose’ the mid-terms, largely because Barrack Obama’s Presidency isn’t going as well as it could be. This is party due to the unrealistic expectations placed on it, and party because President Obama has been sticking to his bi-partisan commitment. Compromises have resulted in severely watered down legislation which the Republicans have voted against anyway. For instance, the healthcare bill didn’t go nearly far enough to excite liberal Democrats, yet the Republicans have marketed the fairly minor changes as Soviet-style socialism. The result is a significant ‘enthusiasm gap’ between the two parties’ supporters. Republicans seem set to head the polls in opposition to President Obama’s agenda but Democrats aren’t so keen to support it. This will make a big difference with the traditionally low mid-term turnout.

Undoubtedly, this year’s main electoral story is the rise of the Tea Party, which has breathed new life into the Republican Party whilst simultaneously scuppering their chances in a number of races. The conservative movement has sprung up in opposition to Obama Administration, and has been causing upsets in a few Republican primaries. In some respects the Democrats could do with a few Tea Party success stories next week to help them in 2012. The better the Tea Party do the more likely the Republicans will move further to the right in the next few years, which will help President Obama’s re-election bid.

The United States Congress is a bi-cameral legislature consisting of the House of Representatives (lower house) and the Senate (upper house). The House is elected in full every two years where as Senators serve six year terms with a third up for election every two years. Currently the Democrats hold both houses; the House by 256-179 and the Senate 57-41 (with the two Independents caucusing with them). Invariably the party holding the presidency loses seats in both the House and the Senate in Mid-Term elections but large majorities the Democrats hold in both houses should have been enough to keep control of Congress. However, Obama’s unpopularity is such that the Democrats will almost certainly lose control of the House, and the Senate is in the balance. I’ll briefly run through the House before looking at the key races in the Senate.

The magic number in the House is 218, leaving the Republicans needing to gain 41 seats. This is a historically high number of seats to change hands, but the American electorate has become a lot more volatile and ‘wave’ elections have become more common. The Democrats gained a net 21 seats in 2008 and 31 in 2006 whilst the Republicans managed an impressive 54 seats in 1994, the mid-term following Bill Clinton’s first Presidential election. The Republicans will probably lose a few seats because of specific local reasons, but the large amount of marginal districts this year leave them plenty of targets to gain the 45 seats they’ll need to take control of the House.

Generic ballot polling of Congressional voting intention have been giving the Republicans consistent leads in the high single digits throughout October, and early voting figures have not given the Democrats much to smile about. There is a consensus developing among key political correspondents that the Republicans will manage a majority in the House, and the real question now is how big. This post is big enough without running through every competitive house race, but for those of you who are looking for further reading I would recommend Larry Sabato’s summaries of key the districts.

In the UK we’re subjected to Universal National Swing as the way of turning voting intention into seat distribution. In the US their projections are far more sophisticated, with my personal favourite being Nate Silver’s at fivethirtyeight.com. Silver’s model incorporates data such as party identification and incumbency to compliment the latest opinion polling, and then calculates the probability of victory for both parties in each district. These probabilities are then run through 100,000 simulations to give an average seat distribution. In simple terms, if you take four seats the model has given a 75% of a Republican gain, then the top-line seat distribution will allocate three gains. On the current polling Silver is forecasting a net gain of 50 seats for the Republicans, which would leave the House 230-205.

The scale of the predicted gains is more a reflection of how well the Democrats performed in the previous two elections, rather than how badly they are doing now. They have won many seats in what was considered Republican territory, and now the political momentum has switched these districts are almost certain to switch back. The US is no different to Britain in the sense that when the tide changes, the party with momentum usually out performs the national change in vote. Because there are so many states in play this election most commentators are running with the caveat that the unpredictability in their forecasts could see the Democrats hold the House. But the Republicans will almost certainly win more of the seats regarded as ‘tossups’ than they’ll lose, and so I’d say it’s more likely they’ll manage an bigger majority than predicted.

Analysing the Senate is different matter altogether. Unlike the Congressional Districts, all of the key states have been extensively polled, independently of the national surveys. Plus, as there are only a few, a quick look at each important race is possible. There are 37 seats up for grabs in this election cycle and although the vast majority of them are not competitive, enough are to make Republican takeover possible. In the event the Senate is split 50-50 the Vice President of the United States has the presiding vote, and as this is currently the Democrat Joe Biden the GOP need to gain 10 seats to control the upper house. With a week to go 11 seats currently held by the Democrats have a genuine chance of switching.

I’ll get the easy ones out of the way first. The chances of the Republicans winning Arkansas, Indiana and North Dakota from the Democrats are as much of a sure thing as you get in politics. Polling in those three seats have consistently shown the Republicans with double digit leads, so that takes Republicans up to 44. The order of difficultly for the other eight states isn’t necessarily agreed on by political commentators, but the basic facts are the Republicans need 7 of them to take control of the Senate. Therefore, it’s worth looking briefly at each race to show what the Republicans are up against.

Wisconsin is a strange race as three-term Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) has been given up for dead, despite leading in the polls as recently as July. Feingold is an independently minded Senator, but this hasn’t prevented him getting dragged down by Obama’s falling popularity. Although some point out Feingold has always won by fairly small margins (53-46, 51-48 & 55-44), he has trailed his Republican challenger, businessman Ron Johnson, in every poll since the primary election in early September. Johnson has never run for public office before, and is financing his own campaign, but seems to be doing pretty well against his experienced opponent. Only the most optimistic Democrats will be expecting a hold here.

An odd situation has developed in Pennsylvania this cycle. Sen Arlen Specter (D-PA) was elected as a Republican in 1980, but with less than 20 months left of this fifth term he decided it would politically advantageous to switch parties. He was probably right as the moderate Republican almost lost to a primary challenge from the right in 2004. Ironically, Specter was then challenged from the left by Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) contesting the Democratic nomination; and lost. As a result the Pennsylvanians now face a stark choice when they elect their new Senator. The Republican candidate Pat Toomey had the support of George W. Bush when he almost beat Specter to the GOP nomination in 2004. And Sestak successfully convinced the primary voters that Specter wasn’t liberal enough, despite the fact he voted with Democrats on every bill following his defection. Toomey has led throughout the campaign, but Sestak has made an impressive comeback. The Republicans are still favourites here but it could end up very close.

Colorado should really be in the already sewn up list for the Republicans. The winner in 2004, Ken Salazar (D), was appointed as Obama’s Secretary of State for Interior in 2009 leaving the Democrats to defend a seat without an elected incumbent. At the time Obama’s approval ratings were in the high 60s and the President had carried the state by 54-45 just a few months earlier. By this summer Obama’s unpopularity meant it seemed all the GOP needed to do was pick a sensible candidate against the appointed incumbent Michael Bennett (D-CO), who has never been elected to public office, and the seat would be theirs. Fortunately for the Democrats, the Tea Party got involved and their man, Ken Buck, defeated the establishment candidate for the nomination. Buck’s controversial views have kept the Democrats in this, but he has consistently hold small leads since winning the primary in early August. It’s likely to be very close.

Back in the day there was gentleman’s agreement to not contest the other party’s leader’s seat. In this era of hyper-partisanship that convention is long gone, and this has left Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) fighting for his political life in Nevada. The Republicans have been blamed all the countries woes on the Democrat leaders in Washington, and Reid has suffered as a result. He appeared to get a break when the Republicans choose Tea Partier Sharon Angle as their challenger over the establishment candidate. In a situation similar to Colorado, the Republicans would probably have this in the bag if they’d gone with the moderate, but Angle is still leading in the polls. Some Democrats are privately hoping for an Angle win as they believe Reid’s commitment to compromise has cost the party dear. At the moment they look like they’ll get their wish.

It would be symbolic of the last two years if the Democrats lose Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, but you couldn’t make up some of the happenings in Illinois since Obama packed his bags and headed for the White House. There were allegations that Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) sold the seat and as a result his choice, Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL), was almost not seated. Burris thought about running, but he was far too tainted and quickly gave up on the idea. The Democrats choose State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias as their candidate, and he ticks a few boxes; young, ambitious, previously elected to public office. His main problem is that he used to be a banker and they’re not that popular at the moment! To make matters worse his bank had, allegedly, been making loans to some unsavoury characters. Luckily for Giannoulias, Illinois is fairly blue state and the Republicans didn’t exactly capitalise on the situation. They selected Mark Kirk, who lies quite a lot; especially when talking about his military record. So with a choice between a dodgy banker and perpetual liar it’s hard to say which way the Illinois voters will go. The Republicans are favourites almost entirely because of the national picture. Opinion polls have shown the race to be consistently close, with Kirk marginally ahead, but it really could go either way.

West Virginia is being dubbed as the ‘canary in the mine’, which isn’t just because there are loads of mines in the state! Like in Britain, Voting Intention polling is viewed with a little caution in some quarters and those looking for other measures to back up the top-line figures often look to the Approval Rating of the incumbent. The Democrats’ candidate isn’t the current senator, but he is the current Governor. Following Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-WV) death Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) could have appointed someone to serve the until the end of the term in 2012. But as his approval rating was in the seventies he decided to call a special election and run for the Senate himself. Unfortunately, as popular as Manchin is in West Virginia President Obama is almost equally unpopular. As a result his opponent, John Raese (R), is tied with Manchin, despite having never run for public office before and not actually living in the state (his wife can’t even vote for him!). Of the races I’ve discussed so far, this is one the Democrats are most likely to win. But the fact it is close is very worrying for the Democrats.

IF the Republicans win all the above races, and at the moment it looks like they’ll lose one or two, they will still only have 50 seats. They will need to find one other, and the two best chances are in Washington and California. The Republicans looked like they would cause an upset in Washington State as the incumbent Patty Murray (D-WA) slipped behind the Republican challenger Dino Rossi at the end of September. Murray appears to have recovered though and has enjoyed a lead in all the polls released in the last fortnight. The Republicans have a marginally better chance of taking California, but in the past month the incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has held a small but consistent lead. The Republican candidate Carly Fiorina hasn’t been helped by the situation in the Gubernatorial race, where a scandal has scuppered Meg Whitman’s (R) chances of defeating Jerry Brown (D). With just a week to go it looks likely that the Democrats will hold both of these states, albeit by small margins, and therefore ensure the hold the Senate.

Elsewhere a couple of Independent candidates are making a fair stab a winning a seat, although they are both essentially Republicans. In Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) lost the Republican nomination to a Tea Partier, despite being one of the most conservative members of the Senate. Murkowski wasn’t going to give up that easily and she immediately began a write-in campaign. In some states losing candidates can go on to seek another party’s nomination after losing a primary, but this is not allowed in Alaska. Instead Murkowski has to teach Alaskans how to tick a box and spell her name. Currently she’s behind the Republican Joe Miller by a few points, but given the fact his name is actually on the ballot and hers isn’t will probably cost her.

In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) was in a similar situation to Murkowski. As a moderate Republican Crist did deserve to be challenged from the right, but his key problem was that if he lost the primary he would be unable to run as an Independent. Before the primary season began there was talk of Crist following Arlen Specter’s lead and switching to the Democrats, although a similar fate may well have been the result. He decided to stick with the Republicans but by April his challenger Marco Rubio was clearly ahead of Crist and so the Governor pulled out and began his Independent campaign. The race soon settled down with Rubio leading Crist and the Democrat Kendrick Meek a distant third. There was then speculation that if Crist would caucus with the Democrats they would get Meek to pull out and endorse him. Rubio is a divisive figure, and about 55% of Floridians have a negative opinion of him. Fortunately for him they are split between Crist and Meek, and with just a week to go any kind of deal looks unlikely. Rubio is set to win with just over 40% of the vote.

So that’s almost certainly all you want to hear about the Mid-Terms from me for the time being. I’ll be back soon with the key Gubernatorial races, and a look at some important battles for the State Legislatures.

You may be wondering why I haven’t really mentioned Christine O’Donnell at all in this article. This is because, although the media seem besotted with the Republican candidate for Delaware, she has no chance of winning!

Some thoughts on the midterms

October 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve had a think about the US midterms in an article for another blog. The first half, at least, should be of interest to followers of global elections.

P.S. Whilst I have occasionally written articles for Lib Dem voice, this site is, and remains, a non party political blog.

The best US campaign adverts (so far)

October 14, 2010 § 16 Comments

There are several good campaign adverts knocking around so please use the comments to suggest your own nomination.

I like Ron Johnson’s very simple but powerful ad for the Wisconsin senate seat:

Meanwhile this Democratic attack ad on Illinois Gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady is a master class in the dark arts:

My favourite ad this year though is this delightfully mad offering for the Dale Patterson in the Republican primary for agricultural commissioner in the state of Alabama (in the same election the republicans chose, as a candidate for treasurer, the superbly named Young Booser):

That said I’m still not sure anyone has ever topped this famous offering from 1964:

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