Outside London, Giles, it really isn’t that bad
It's harder to have a political argument with someone in a small town like mine
Giles Fraser writes movingly today about the erosion of our ‘imagined community’ as a nation. He worries that that the dwindling of this overarching sense of solidarity could undermine our capacity to recover from political divisions following this most fractious of general elections, and come together as a nation.
I want to offer a message of hope: outside London, Giles, it really isn’t that bad. I live in a small town in the shires and while the invigilators at my polling station report that turnout has been high so far, the mood in the polling station was cheerful. And ordinary small-town life is trundling on: our preschool daughter’s nativity show took place his morning, and the talk between parents over coffee and biscuits afterwards was about three-year-olds in adorable costumes, not whether people who vote this way or that are evil. ...
No, the rain probably won’t affect voter turnout
The much-quoted idea that bad weather is good or bad for one party is likely nonsense
It’s absolutely bucketing it down in north London, where I live. I voted a few hours ago, back when it was merely overcast, because I am very virtuous and you should all admire me greatly.
Now, I’m sure >80% of people reading this have watched The West Wing, because the sort of person who reads blog posts about electoral turnout are also the sort of people who watch The West Wing. And they’ll remember that scene in the season four episode Election Night, when Will Bailey stands outside, invoking the rain gods, praying that they unleash a storm to suppress voter turnout.
(Spoiler alert: the storm arrives, a dead guy gets elected to Congress as a result, and the upshot is that Sam Seaborn is written out of the series because Rob Lowe got greedy with his wage demands. But I digress.) ...
Bernie Sanders is America’s magic grandpa
He may be 78, but the veteran socialist has a commanding vote share of young people
The last few polls are dribbling in, then it’s nothing until the exit poll at 10pm (oh, and the actual results). Not until 10pm, anyway. But to tide you over, here’s one from America.
It’s by Quinnipiac, and it’s mostly about the race for the Democratic nomination. The top line isn’t that exciting — Joe Biden is still out in front, despite everything. The interesting stuff is in the data tables, which reveal a chasmic generational divide.
Among the under-35s, Biden limps in third on just 11%. So who does find favour with young and young-ish voters? Is it Pete Buttigieg — who at just 37 is the youngest frontrunner by several decades? Er, no. He gets a humiliating 2% from his fellow kids. ...
Why it takes a village of fathers to raise a child
The New York Times is wrong again about family structure and race
For those who doubt that family structure denialism is a thing on the Left, one need only open the pages of The New York Times this week. They ran an op-ed titled “The Myth of the Two-Parent Home” which sought to minimize the importance of family structure when it comes to “black kids’ success”. According to the article, “resources, more than family structure” are what really matter.
Drawing on her own research on high school completion, Harvard sociologist Christina Cross argued that “living apart from a biological parent does not carry the same cost for black youths as for their white peers, and being raised in a two-parent family is not equally beneficial”. The article’s broader message: for black children, the intact, married family is not so important, indeed not even close in its importance compared to structural factors like racial segregation and poverty. ...
What we really learned from the YouGov MRP result
Whichever way the result goes, the Tories haven't convinced yet
There was much hand-wringing at around 10pm last night, as the final YouGov MRP model arrived, showing a dramatic narrowing and the theoretical Tory majority slashed from 68 to 28.
Every election, the polling world tries to correct for the errors of the previous cycle, and usually end up over-correcting. Last time, it was the YouGov MRP model that was much-derided and ignored, and ended up being eerily accurate; so this time, everyone is taking the YouGov MRP as gospel.
The trouble is, what the result most powerfully shows is really how astonishingly small changes in the vote share can produce totally different results. The previous YouGov model had the Conservatives on 43% and Labour on 32%, ending up with a majority of 68; the new model showing a majority of 28 has the Conservatives still on 43% and Labour on… 34%. This small change means 21 more Labour seats and a totally different world. But look at how many of those Labour seats only just get over the line since the previous model: ...
How we ruined election campaigns
This is a high stakes campaign — so why is it all so boring?
This is a high stakes election, but a low energy campaign. This week it finally flared into life, but with just three days to go it’s too little, too late.
Why was the rest of it so boring? Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I can’t help feeling that election campaigns used to be better. If so, here’s what’s gone wrong:
Election campaigns last forever these days. It’s not just the official campaign period, but getting the election called in the first place — a process complicated by the Fixed Term Parliament Act. Let’s hope the next government repeals it. That way we can go straight into the campaign without the endless run-up, and get the whole thing done in three or four weeks. ...
Confessions of a conflicted voter
I want to vote for a radical Left Brexit party, but there isn't one on the ballot
I have never enjoyed general elections — and have never voted positively in one. Sometimes I spoiled my ballot, as a protest against the injustice of being asked to hold my nose and pick the least worst of a god awful bunch. Sometimes I couldn’t be bothered. But having voted to Leave in the referendum in 2016, I feel completely different this year.
Even in 2017 General Election, those of us who had voted to Leave were still convinced we’d get our political demands recognised — I was complacent. But this Thursday is giving me a hernia — even in a seat as immovable as mine in Hackney North, I’m completely torn. ...
Has the FT turned red?
For the first time in three elections, the pink paper is not endorsing the Tories
The Financial Times endorsed the Conservative Party at the 2010, 2015 and 2017 general elections. Not this time though. Instead, the paper’s “wholehearted support” went to candidates who share its “internationalist, pro-business” values.
But while the Tories weren’t embraced, Labour was rejected “as the party most distant from FT values,” not least because its “socialist blueprint would replace a thriving market economy with a statist model.”
OK, I guess that’s what you’d expect. Except that a few days later comes another editorial calling on western governments to borrow more and spend more, which is very much what the Labour manifesto promises to do. ...