Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Everything You Need to Know About the British Elections, The Tea Party Losses Yet Again

The British Parliamentary Elections
Ah, Mother England. It could be the United States of America in 1992. The United Kingdom is in the middle of what has been possibly the wildest, most unpredictable elections in its history. I don't write a lot about foreign elections, but let me attempt to recap.

The Labour Party, which has been in power since Tony Blair's rise to power in 1997 is under fire, not only from the other so-called "major" party in the UK, the Conservative Party of Margaret Thatcher and John Major, but from the upstart Liberal Democratic Party, which had, up until very recently, been considered a joke in British politics.

The Labour Party was widely considered to be in trouble, facing the same headwinds that all incumbent governments across the world face of ugly economics, high unemployment and growing government debt. But it was assumed that Gordon Brown's Labour might lose to David Cameron's Tories (Conservatives), not to the much-mocked LDP.

That all changed in the first-ever U.S.-style televised debate between the three parties, when the charismatic LDP leader Nick Clegg, mopped the floor with the two so-called "major parties". The LDP briefly surged to a least until everyone realized that their policies were a little nutty.

Now, with the LDP peaking too soon and the Conservatives stuck in the mud, Labour has a chance for a big comeback. Enter Gordon Brown's "bigot-gate", where, while not realizing he was on mike, Prime Minister Brown accuses a grandmother of being a bigot, for reasons which aren't very clear to me. The lady had just had a wide-ranging conversation with Brown. She did at one point reference immigration, but the quote was simply "and you can't even talk about the immigrants". For all I know, she could be a bigot, but her words certainly weren't sufficient to make that determination. Brown shows his detachment from the common (wo)man. Labour continues to languish.

So where does that leave us?

Here is my aggregation of the British polls going into the election tomorrow. I'll caveat this with the fact that I am not nearly as familiar with British polling as with American polling, so I would anticipate that the margin of error on my projections could be larger than normal:

Conservatives = 35.5%
Labour = 27.7%
Liberal Democrats = 27.5%
Minor Parties/Undecided = 9.3%

So, it looks like a fairly good margin of victory in the popular vote for the Tories, and a very close second/third finish between the incumbent Labor party and the LDP. The LDP has been fading in late polling and the Conservatives coming up.

But, wait. The British have almost as screwed up a system as our electoral college. The winner of the popular vote does not necessarily win the election. Instead, each parliamentary district is awarded to a party, with the winner of the majority of seats becoming Prime Minister. If not party wins a majority of seats, you have a "hung parliament" and the parties would have to form coalitions in order to get the majority required to form a government.

Because of the concentration of the LDP support, while they may get about the same number of votes as Labour, they are almost assured to win less seats. Based on my projections and past election results, I attempted to model the number of parliament seats that would be won by each party. Here are the results:

Conservatives = 282 Seats
Labour = 258 Seats
Liberal Democrats = 81 Seats
Other Minor Parties = 29 Seats

Needed for Prime Minister's Seat: 326

So, the likely result will be that there will be a hung parliament, with the LDP playing king-maker, able to make either Labour or the Tories the party in power. Politically, they are closer to Labour, but Clegg has run on such an anti-Labour platform, that an alliance with the Conservatives is possible.

If the Conservatives can get to approximately 40%, they might take an outright majority of the seats.

Two points here
1. This will be a very interesting election
2. The British election system is even more in need of reform than the American system

Stay tuned...

GOP Shuns the Tea Party in Indiana
In the Indiana Republican Senate primary to replace retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D), former Senator and mainstream conservative Dan Coats has beaten back the tea-party movement to claim the GOP nomination.

Also, yesterday, incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) easily beat back a tea-party challenge (actually 3 of them) to be renominated for the Senate by the GOP.

In Ohio, Rob Portman won the GOP nomination, as the tea party couldn't even field a favorite of theirs to run.

This builds on the earlier tea-party loss in the GOP primary in Illinois?

The meaning of all of this?

1. The GOP nationally sees a huge opportunity and is in it to win it. Wingnuts need not apply.
2. As I've said for months -- the media is wrong, the tea party movement is a joke with no traction. They have not won a single election yet and so far have only been able to torpedo the GOP chances in races that they got involved.

But wait, you say, what about Florida and Marco Rubio? Let's set the record straight on this one -- Marco Rubio has been very careful not to claim membership in the tea party. He has carefully and smartly kept his distance. And Charlie Crist was ousted for being perceived as too close to President Obama and being an insider in an anti-incumbent year. I said the tea party movement was a joke, not that Republicans didn't truly dislike President Obama.

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