Posts Tagged ‘election results’

American election update

Posted: November 9, 2016 in Political musings
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At lunchtime in Australia, the presidential race in Florida is incredibly close, and good for Trump, but remarkably Clinton is doing well in North Carolina and Ohio. Clinton is down by 0.5%-1% in Florida with 90% counted, but it is unclear whether the remaining votes are from Democratic or Republican-leaning areas. Broward County has hardly reported at all, and that should be good for Clinton.

The Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate, so a Clinton Presidency could be gridlocked from Day 1.

One major casualty of tonight could be house speaker Paul Ryan, who will now have to deal with a lot more very right wing Tea Party types, and with a smaller majority, in all likelihood.

More news as it comes to hand.

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Anthony Green, looking a lot tidier than he did on breakfast TV this morning, when he was looking distinctly 'over-trained'.

Anthony Green, looking a lot tidier than he did on breakfast TV this morning, when he was looking distinctly ‘over-trained’.

In yet another example of the rise and rise of “anti-politics politics”, if further evidence were needed, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s election guru Antony Green is predicting that hard-right racially-biased Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will finish up with at least three Senate seats – one each from Queensland, NSW and Western Australia.

It’s early days in the Senate count, with a final result weeks away.

Either way, the expanded crossbench – now even more expanded thanks to the Turnbull Government’s decision to hold a Double Dissolution with lower voting thresholds – is set to pose a big headache for the Prime Minister, whomever that turns out to be.

Gathering together a working majority in a Senate with this many disparate groupings looks like a political manager’s nightmare.

Essentially, though, the likely winners break down like this, as far as we can surmise:

PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY CONSERVATIVE/RIGHT WING

Libera/National Coalition
One Nation
Liberal Democrats (except on Social Issues)
Christian Democrats (especially on Social Issues)
Family First
Derryn Hinch*
Jackie Lambie*

*But capable of springing surprises

PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY CENTRIST/EVEN HANDED

Nick Xenophon Team

PROBABLY OR DEFINITELY LEFT OR LEFT OF CENTRE

Labor
The Greens
Animal Justice
The Sex Party (especially on Social Issues)

This is how Anthony Green suggests it could all break down, courtesy of The Age’s chief political reporter James Massola:

New South Wales: 5 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation senator, 1 don’t know

Victoria: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 2 Greens, 1 Derryn Hinch Justice Party, 1 don’t know (“It’s anyone’s guess”, said Green.)

Queensland: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation, 2 don’t know (“It could be the Coalition, Labor, or the Liberal Democrats.”)

South Australia: 4 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 3 Xenophon Team

Western Australia: 5 Coalition, 4 Labor, 1 Greens, 1 Hanson/One Nation, 1 don’t know (“Probably a second Green”)

Tasmania: 4 Coalition, 5 Labor, 2 Greens, 1 Jackie Lambie (Independent)

Meanwhile Glenn Druery, the Senate “preference whisperer” who advises minor parties on how to engineer complicated preferences sways, predicted that, at this early stage of counting:

In New South Wales, the 12th and final seat would be won by Nella Hall for Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats or the Liberal Democrats incumbent David Leyonhjelm;

In Victoria, One Nation were presently in the box seat for the 12th spot but “I expect that to change and for that seat to be won by the Animal Justice or The Sex Party”;

In Queensland, the last seat would be won by a Liberal Democrat (Gabe Buckley, a campaigner against the Labor Government’s now rescinded anti-bike VLAD legislation);

In South Australia, the 12th seat could end up as a battle between Family First senator Bob Day and Labor, (although Bob Day thinks he will end up re-elected on One Nation preferences);

In Western Australia, the 12th spot could be a fight between One Nation and the National Party.

A right royal mess, we hear you say, Dear Reader? Well, you wouldn’t get much argument from anyone on that. How any Government will deal with such a fractured Senate is hard to fathom.

 

She's back. Please explain?

She’s back. Please explain?

 

The clear winners from this Senate election are One Nation, The Xenophon Team, and The Greens.

Libertarian David Leyonhjelm getting himself re-elected in NSW, when he was undoubtedly only elected the first time because he headed up the Senate voting sheet and people got him confused with the Liberals, would be quite some achievement.

And a special hat tip to Jackie Lambie in Tasmania, who was originally elected as a Palmer United Party Senator but rapidly split from the mining magnate, and has since carved out a clear role for herself in the Island State’s political pantheon, despite apparently having none of the silky smooth political skills you need to be a winner in the Great Game.

We have to say we rather like Lambie – our fellows in the chardonnay-sipping political elite will be horrified, but it’s true – without agreeing with hardly a single word she says. She is the archetypal “battler” Aussie who calls it as she sees it. She appears afraid of no-one, and determined to speak her mind as she sees fit. We need more such “politicians”.

Meanwhile the other very influential Senator re-elected will be the perfectly loathsome arch-conservative Liberal Corey Bernardi. He will be heavily involved in any move to unseat Malcom Turnbull and reinstall the utterly horrid Tony Abbott, if he isn’t already. Pass the popcorn.

donkeyWe do not consider ourselves to be either Robinson Crusoe or Nostradamus in predicting a poor day for the Democrats today in the USA. It does not require us to be especially prescient to predict a dark day for the centre left, and a big celebration night for the centre-right. Commentary and polls have been running strongly that way in the last ten days.

Many races will be a lot closer than people have been predicting, but in general we expect the Republicans to do better tonight USA time. We are ambivalent on whether they will take control of the Senate: on balance, we have suspected JUST not until very recently, but as the counting continues it is increasingly possible, undoubtedly, especially if the Democrats are in trouble in a swathe of Southern and Western States where they had hoped to hold off GOP challenges, as in states like Arkansas and Colorado.

Why the Republicans are doing well is perhaps more interesting.

A referendum? Maybe. But on much more than just the Presidency.

Barack ObamaThere is a general assumption that the result will be a “referendum” on President Obama, who has been struggling in the polls for some time now, despite a strong bounceback in the American economy.

There is a pervasive view in America that the economy is not doing well: despite a recovery from the depths of the recent recession, markedly higher employment levels and a soaring stock market, the economy remains the top worry for voters, with an overwhelming majority pessimistic that conditions won’t get better soon, according to Tuesday evening exit polls.

When Bill Clinton won the Presidency he famously had a large sign on his campaign headquarters walls that cried out “It’s the economy, Stupid”, to remind him and all spokespeople to focus on the economy as by far the most important issue for voters. Well today, 78% of Americans said they are worried about the economy, according to CNN reporting on national exit polls. Another 69 percent said that in their view economic conditions are not good. Nearly half of voters said the economy is the most important issue facing the country at 45 percent. Health care, foreign policy and illegal immigration are also top concerns, but ranked well below.

Overall, 65 percent said the country is on the wrong track and 31 percent said it’s headed in the right direction, the exit polls found.

The survey of 11,522 voters nationwide was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 281 precincts Tuesday, as well as 3,113 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 24 through Nov. 2. This will bias the results against the Democrat incumbent, as pre-poll votes favour the Republicans, and the poll quotes a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. Nevertheless, the broad thrust of the poll is essentially right.

But Republicans shouldn’t celebrate too hard

The voters have thoroughly had it right up to their yingyang, according to exit polls released Tuesday evening. The national survey of voters showed broad dissatisfaction with both parties, the Obama administration and Congress.

58% of those casting ballots in the midterms were either dissatisfied or angry at the White House, while just 11 percent said they are enthusiastic with the administration and 30 percent said they were satisfied, according to CNN.

Another 54 percent said they disapprove of President Barack Obama’s job while 44 percent said they approve.

But the winners are winners by default. The Republican leadership does not fare well in the eyes of voters either, with 59 percent saying they are not happy with GOP leaders in Congress.

And as for the parties as a whole, 56 percent view the GOP unfavourably, while 53 percent say the same of Democrats. Hardly a crushing endorsement for the Republicans. More like “a plague on both your houses”.

And a whopping 79 percent said had a negative view of Congress, according to CNN. This statistic has hardly changed since the Republican-led shut downs of Government some time back.

Politics as a whole is the loser

Meanwhile, voters are split on how much the federal government be involved in people’s lives, as 41 percent said the government should do more and 53 percent said the government does too much.

The trust level is also staggeringly low. Sixty-one percent said they trust lawmakers in Washington only some of the time. Democracy itself is under question here. Accordingly, we expect to see some solid swings against incumbents of both parties tonight.

voter IDWe also expect to see a bigger turnout from Republican voters than Democrats, favouring the GOP, and that’s before we factor in the ludicrous “Voter ID” push from the right which may have effectively disenfranchised as many as 7 million Americans, almost all of whom would have voted Democrat. If the Republicans take control of the Senate by less than those 7 million votes in the States that have enacted voter ID legislation then what we will have been watching is little more than a legalised coup d’etat. It won’t be the first time, either. Remember the Gore-Bush fiasco in Florida?

Whatever you believe about the ID laws, the other factor is that GOP voters are currently more motivated to vote partly through their visceral hatred of Obama – some of which is undoubted racially-based, sadly, but also through perceived American weakness on the international stage, and other hot buttons – but also through deep concerns about the size of Government debt, especially on the far right with the Tea Party and its fellow travellers. The other significant factor is that voters that identify as Independents can expect to break heavily in favour of the Republicans, reversing recent trends, and again reflective of the generalised malaise with all incumbents and with Democrats in particular.

There is little question that along with a generalised dislike of Government per se in the Western world at the moment, there is a pervasive concern about the size of Government, and the arguments of small government libertarians have gained some traction with those who feel especially disgruntled. Whether this will turn into a broadly-supported consensus for what a small government democratic society would look like is, to our mind, far less likely. Small government is all very well until they start to abolish the bit you happen to like.

Building agreement to substantially reduce the role of Government following sixty years of mixed-economy high-touch post-WW2 consensus politics will be much more difficult than promising to keep expanding spending inexorably. We suspect pork barreling is not about to disappear anytime soon.

Ye will reap what ye sow. So be careful what you sow.

However, what we see in this election is the net result of years and years of relentlessly negative campaigning by the Republicans, in effect “talking down” the economy, talking down the President’s performance, and talking down confidence generally. In our entire adult life of closely following American politics we do not recall ever having seen such a sustained barrage of brutal criticism, virtually entirely unsupported by any serious policy alternatives.

In reality, apart from the race card, this is due to one factor above all others. Let down, in our opinion, by an inability to strike the right note in promoting their successes, the Obama Administration has actually been one of the more successful in recent American history, in a variety of areas, but this news has completely failed to cut through the miasma of rabble-rousing from the Republicans.

wall streetExamining just one of the key areas of Obama’s activity (there are many we could point to) reveals this to be true.

The economic cataclysm of the Global Financial Crisis can be laid squarely at the feet of two very contrasting Presidents, Messrs Clinton and Bush, who both bowed to pressure to de-regulate Wall Street and American banking practices, which led directly to the economic crisis and cost millions of innocent little folk worldwide their savings, and worse, their homes and jobs.

The resulting “austerity” measures didn’t touch those who played fast and loose with the world’s money, none of which was their own.

What the f*** did Obama ever do for us? Well, this lot, for a start.

In response, in terms of Consumer Protection, the Obama government has been one of the most involved and proactive in history. Just consider, he:

Ordered 65 executives who took bailout money to cut their own pay until they paid back all bailout money.  http://huff.to/eAi9Qq

Along with Congressional Democrats, pushed through and got passed Dodd-Frank, one of the largest and most comprehensive Wall Street reforms since the Great Depression.  http://bit.ly/hWCPg0http://bit.ly/geHpcD

By signing Dodd-Frank legislation, created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau http://1.usa.gov/j5onG

Created rules that reduce the influence of speculators in the oil market.  http://bit.ly/MDnA1t

Fashioned rules so that banks can no longer use consumers’ money to invest in high-risk financial instruments that work against their own customers’ interests.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

Supported the concept of allowing stockholders to vote on executive compensation. http://bit.ly/fnTayj

Endorsed and supported the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2009 that closed offshore tax avoidance loopholes.   http://bit.ly/esOdfBhttp://bit.ly/eG4DPM

Negotiated a deal with Swiss banks that now permits the US government to gain access to the records of criminals and tax evaders.  http://bit.ly/htfDgw

Signed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which closed many of the loopholes that allowed companies to send jobs overseas, and avoid paying US taxes by moving money offshore.http://1.usa.gov/bd1RTq

Established a Consumer Protection Financial Bureau designed to protect consumers from financial sector excesses.  http://bit.ly/fnTayj

Oversaw and then signed a bill constituting the most sweeping food safety legislation since the Great Depression.  http://thedc.com/gxkCtP

Through the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, extended the False Claims Act to combat fraud by companies and individuals using money from the TARP and Stimulus programs.  http://bit.ly/SLTcSa

That’s quite a list. Yet these directly attributable, unarguable and very welcome successes – and this is just one area of government we could look at – have been largely drowned out by the constant cat-calling and nay-saying across the aisle.

No matter how much we support historic measures like Obamacare, the “pivot” towards Asia in foreign policy, and other historic changes, we freely concede as natural supporters of Obama that small revolutions are never without controversy, and even the success of a reform like the new health insurance system in the USA will always be something of a “curate’s egg”. Massive reform always involves partial failure, and results in future trimming of the sails. This is natural, and acceptable.

Just one of thousands of examples of the disgraceful tactics employed by the right to rubbish Obama.

Just one of thousands of examples of the disgraceful tactics employed by the right to rubbish Obama. Just pop “Obama is a Socialist” into Google and see for yourself.

What bemuses us is how so much of our politics has descended into complete opposition to the party in power, and viciously so in many cases, whereas previously the role of Opposition was to oppose with principle, to achieve bi-partisanship where possible, and to propose alternatives where the difference of opinion was unbridgeable.

We condemn this drift into mindless yahoo-ery as unhealthy for society.

The fault is by no means all on one side of politics – indeed there will be those who leap to accuse us of the very same failing, and possible sometimes justly, (we are only human) – but in general the verbal (and sometimes physical) thuggery is demonstrably more common on the right, often hiding behind the cowardly anonymity of the Internet – the modern equivalent of scrawling on a wall – to spread their ridiculous and offensive “memes”. And overwhelmingly, the target for these memes has been Obama himself, and his family. No President in history, even George Bush who was viscerally detested by the Left, was subjected to this level of abuse, vindictiveness, and outright falsehood. As my mother would say, “give a dog a bad name” … Well, it’s worked.

Disgusting "humour" like this is freely available all over the internet. Should concepts of "free speech" protect those who produce it from sanction? In our opinion: No.

Disgusting racist “humour” like this is freely available all over the internet. It seeps into the body politic and corrupts it. Deliberately.

Which is why, as they celebrate their likely successes tonight, we urge thinking Republicans to crow less and think hard that this is a very dangerous furrow to plough.

What we are seeing is a wholesale abandonment of decency and consensus as principles worth following, and that is a very dangerous and unwelcome step.

The GOP need to pause and consider that if they achieve some measure of power tonight by winning control of the Senate, then if they are not careful they will – in due course -find themselves hoist by their own cruel and destructive petard.

Is it too much to hope that faced with the reality of power the right will abandon their childish name calling and rediscover a sense of purpose beyond blind obstinacy and negativity? Yes, we rather fear it is.

We will post comment on the individual races in due course.