Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

A US Presidential election prediction – Clinton 332 electoral college votes to Trump’s 206

November 8th, 2016 Comments off

When it comes to predicting election results I’m still a wisdom of crowds man although with so many media pundits now following the betting markets there is growing evidence of people trying to influence things purely because they have more money than the markets can comfortably cope with. That’s why when it comes to this US presidential election I’m using the Iowa Electronic Market as my guide to what the true wisdom is. That’s because the IEM, run by the College of Business at the University of Iowa, has a lot of participants but with sensible limits on how much any participant can invest.

As I am writing this at 10pm Canberra time the Iowa consensus is that Clinton will end up with 53.7 per cent of the two party (Democrat plus Republican) vote to Trump’s 46.3 per cent. That predicts that Clinton will do 1.7 points better than Obama did in 2012 and have a comfortable win.

Comfortable but not enough to do better than Obama when it comes to the number of electoral college votes. On the IEM prediction of the national vote, if it turns out overall to be uniform, the electoral college result would be identical to 2012 – Clinton 232 to Trump on 206.

I’ll go with the pluses in some states being cancelled out by the minuses in others so 332 to 206 is my fearless prediction.

Conservatives favoured to win most seats

May 7th, 2015 Comments off

The opinion polls pretty much have it 50:50. The Owl Indicator has the Conservatives favourite to win most seats and to provide the Prime Minister.


PJ O’Rourke tries to make sense of the UK election

April 26th, 2015 Comments off


  • “PJ O’Rourke on the UK Campaign Trail” – In this year’s British general election the traditional two party system looks set to be blown apart with up to seven parties having a say in the result. It could be most interesting campaign in decades but it could also be the weirdest. PJ O’Rourke travels across Britain trying to work out why party politics in the UK is being shaken up. From the Tory heartlands of the South that do not seem that keen on the Tories any more to Labour’s battle for Scotland, PJ meets politicians, pundits and the voters, to find out what it takes to get elected to the mother of Parliaments in 2015.
  • Republicans want a bumper sticker world – The case for Mr Obama is that in seeking to deploy economic and diplomatic power, and to leverage US influence through multinational coalitions, he has recognised the complexities of this new landscape. The case against is that he has sometimes gone too far in drawing the limits of US power. What has been missing is an overarching framework — a set of principles clear and practical enough to deter adversaries and to reassure allies. A grand strategy, in other words, that balances ambition and realism. Republicans used to have a reputation for such thinking. Now they prefer bumper stickers.
  • Humans aren’t the only ones to genetically modify crops. Nature does, too. – Now, as a new study shows, horizontal gene transfer in nature has likely modified some of the very crops we eat without any human input at all. Nearly 300 samples of human-grown sweet potatoes, as well as some wild ones, contain bits of DNA originally found in some of the very bacteria that inspired genetic modification, researchers reported this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their findings suggest we might rethink how “unnatural” GMOs really are.
  • Oklahomans Feel Way More Earthquakes Than Californians; Now They Know Why – A magnitude-3.0 earthquake is small, but most people can feel it. Historically, Oklahoma got less than two of those a year, but in 2013 it became two a week. It’s only gotten more active since then — last year, the state had three times as many earthquakes as in the entire seismically active state of California. This morning, the U.S. Geological Survey will issue its first comprehensive assessment of the hazard posed by earthquakes linked to oil and gas drilling. In the preliminary report, the survey details oil and gas-related quakes in eight states. The earthquake surge is strongest in Oklahoma, where the state government has formally acknowledged the link for the first time earlier this week.
  • The Fight Over Canada’s Patriot Act – Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has introduced an ambitious and unpopular intelligence reform agenda. Can anyone stop it?
  • The United States Does Not Know Who It’s Killing – A remorseful acknowledgment of the drone deaths of American civilians is not an acceptable answer for a counterterrorism policy out of control.
  • Europe’s asylum seekers and the global refugee challenge – The human tragedy of thousands of asylum seekers floundering—and dying—in the Mediterranean highlights an unprecedented global challenge for the 21st century. … We should by all means tackle this human tragedy and end the horrors being witnessed in the Mediterranean. But we should also recognize that the global problem is getting worse as the wars in the Middle East and elsewhere continue, and people are displaced, killed, and maimed every day. Closing doors and building fences work in very limited ways. Refugees can have an impact on whole societies and regions decades after the tragedies that led to their displacement. Just as we are doing with climate change and global epidemics, it’s time for a global response to the refugee crisis—before it further destabilizes an already fragile global order.
  • Eight officers stormed into my bedroom shouting Met Police’: Reporter’s three-year ordeal ‘for writing story about a fox’

Thoughts on the UK election and links to other interesting news and views

April 25th, 2015 Comments off
  • UK election: Who will run Britain? – The polls have been static for weeks, with the Conservative and Labour parties stuck on roughly 34 per cent each. So the real drama is likely to take place after 10pm on polling day, as David Cameron, the Tory prime minister, and Ed Miliband, his Labour rival, try to claw their way to power. The bookmakers name Mr Cameron favourite to win most seats in the House of Commons, but expect him to fall short of an outright majority. They reckon Mr Miliband is most likely to be Britain’s next prime minister.
  • Politics and the Australian language – Sexism, plain talking (when it suits them) and obfuscating euphemism: politicians down under abuse language, too
  • Republicans want a bumper sticker world – The case for Mr Obama is that in seeking to deploy economic and diplomatic power, and to leverage US influence through multinational coalitions, he has recognised the complexities of this new landscape. The case against is that he has sometimes gone too far in drawing the limits of US power. What has been missing is an overarching framework — a set of principles clear and practical enough to deter adversaries and to reassure allies. A grand strategy, in other words, that balances ambition and realism. Republicans used to have a reputation for such thinking. Now they prefer bumper stickers.
  • Oklahomans Feel Way More Earthquakes Than Californians; Now They Know Why – A magnitude-3.0 earthquake is small, but most people can feel it. Historically, Oklahoma got less than two of those a year, but in 2013 it became two a week. It’s only gotten more active since then — last year, the state had three times as many earthquakes as in the entire seismically active state of California. This morning, the U.S. Geological Survey will issue its first comprehensive assessment of the hazard posed by earthquakes linked to oil and gas drilling. In the preliminary report, the survey details oil and gas-related quakes in eight states. The earthquake surge is strongest in Oklahoma, where the state government has formally acknowledged the link for the first time earlier this week.
  • Clinton Rules – So there’s a lot of buzz about alleged scandals involving the Clinton Foundation. Maybe there’s something to it. But you have to wonder: is this just the return of “Clinton rules”?

A depressing view of economics and elections and links to other interesting news and views

April 7th, 2015 Comments off
  • Economics and elections – A depressing quote or two from Paul Krugman: Economics and Elections: [A] large body of political science research [on elections shows] … What mainly matters is income growth immediately before the election. And I mean immediately: We’re talking about something less than a year, maybe less than half a year. This is, if you think about it, a distressing result, because it says that there is little or no political reward for good policy. A nation’s leaders may do an excellent job of economic stewardship for four or five years yet get booted out because of weakness in the last two quarters before the election. … What, then, should those of us who study economic policy and care about real-world outcomes do? The answer, surely, is that we should do our jobs: Try to get it right, and explain our answers as clearly as we can. Realistically, the political impact will usually be marginal at best. Bad things will happen to good ideas, and vice versa. So be it. Elections determine who has the power, not who has the truth.
From The Laughing Bone where I learned Lemming suicide is fiction. Contrary to popular belief, lemmings do not periodically hurl themselves off of cliffs and into the sea. Cyclical explosions in population do occasionally induce lemmings to attempt to migrate to areas of lesser population density. When such a migration occurs, some lemmings die by falling over cliffs or drowning in lakes or rivers. These deaths are not deliberate "suicide" attempts, however, but accidental deaths resulting from the lemmings' venturing into unfamiliar territories and being crowded and pushed over dangerous ledges. In fact, when the competition for food, space, or mates becomes too intense, lemmings are much more likely to kill each other than to kill themselves.

From The Laughing Bone where I learned: “Lemming suicide is fiction. Contrary to popular belief, lemmings do not periodically hurl themselves off of cliffs and into the sea. Cyclical explosions in population do occasionally induce lemmings to attempt to migrate to areas of lesser population density. When such a migration occurs, some lemmings die by falling over cliffs or drowning in lakes or rivers. These deaths are not deliberate “suicide” attempts, however, but accidental deaths resulting from the lemmings’ venturing into unfamiliar territories and being crowded and pushed over dangerous ledges. In fact, when the competition for food, space, or mates becomes too intense, lemmings are much more likely to kill each other than to kill themselves.”

  • Are Money Managers Lemmings? – It was once widely believed that the rise of professional investors would make financial markets less prone to manias, panics and crashes. Lately, the opposite belief has begun to take hold. … a burgeoning new official literature on the problems with asset managers. … The main problem with asset managers, one learns from reading (or, in a couple of cases, skimming) these papers and reports, is that they behave too much like other asset managers. That is, they “herd” — buying into particular securities or asset classes mainly because lots of other asset managers are doing it. In the process, they make market highs go higher and market lows go lower. This acknowledgement that professional investors don’t automatically drive prices toward something close to their correct levels is a welcome shift in economic consensus.
  • A Penny for Your Sugar: Setting a Price on Sin – What do you have to drink in your refrigerator? I’ve got kids in grade school, and our fridge always holds their favorite: Juice boxes filled with 100% apple juice. I felt pretty good about that “100%” until I looked at the label. There are 18 grams of sugar in one 6.75-ounce serving. Coca Cola? Six ounces contain 19.5 grams. Oops. Look: Sugar tastes great, but in excess, it can do a real number on a waistline. I can take some solace in the fact that my kids’ juice has no added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends that we all cut back on added sugar to help curb obesity. Sugar-added beverages are pretty popular, and given the US obesity rate and its associated costs, they pose a problem. Can the problem be solved with a sin tax? Or in this case, as it’s more palatably known, a “soda tax?” (That is not an all-inclusive term, it just rolls off the tongue more easily than “sugar-added beverage tax.”)
  • Clinton campaigns for underdog status – As Hillary Clinton prepares to announce her long-awaited second bid for the White House, her advisers are touting a new strategy to dispel the air of inevitability that hangs over her candidacy.


  • How Criminals Built Capitalism – Whenever buyers and sellers get together, opportunities to fleece the other guy arise. The history of markets is, in part, the history of lying, cheating and stealing — and of the effort down the years to fight commercial crime. In fact, the evolution of the modern economy owes more than you might think to these outlaws. That’s the theme of “Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds, and the Rise of Modern Finance” by Ian Klaus. It’s a history of financial crimes in the 19th and early 20th centuries that traces a recurring sequence: new markets, new ways to cheat, new ways to transact and secure trust. As Klaus says, criminals helped build modern capitalism.
  • At this election, British politicians can afford to speak out against Rupert Murdoch – In the past all parties have played it safe but after the phone-hacking scandal, with its exposure of the abuse of power, they have nothing to lose but their fear

Backing Labour’s Millliband to become UK Prime Minister

April 4th, 2015 Comments off

The opinion polls have the UK election at level pegging. The market has the Conservatives at $1.51 to win the most seats. On Betfair David Cameron is $1.75 to continue as Prime Minister after the election with Labour’ David Milliband at $2.34. To me those odds just don’t make sense.

Here is how The Guardian assesses what the current polls would produce:

(Click to enlarge)

Sure the Conservatives by that calculation should be a narrow favourite on the most seats market. But Cameron favourite to continue as PM?
Here is how The Independent assessed things this morning:

Because Labour-held constituencies are smaller than Conservative ones, it is easier for Labour to win most seats. Even though Labour continues to be at risk of heavy losses in Scotland, our latest seat projection puts the party on 293 seats, eighteen ahead of the Conservatives on 275.
With Nick Clegg projected to secure just 16 seats, the Prime Minister would be left with too few allies to be able to sustain a government. The 48 MPs that might be won by the SNP together with their Welsh and Green allies would be able to carry out their threat to block Mr Cameron’s path back to power.

Yet this how the Betfair markets have moved.
Winner of most seats
PM after next election

I already have had a couple of investments on Labour to win the most seats (see Details HERE). But to me the most likely result is a hung parliament and that the Scottish National Party will end up giving the initial nod to David Milliband. Hence my 100 unit investment on him at the $2.34.

Categories: Betting, UK election Tags:

Explaining electoral gerrymanders

March 2nd, 2015 Comments off

2-03-2015 gerrymandering

  • This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see – Gerrymandering — drawing political boundaries to give your party a numeric advantage over an opposing party — is a difficult process to explain. If you find the notion confusing, check out the chart above — adapted from one posted to Reddit this weekend — and wonder no more.
  • Protecting Fragile Retirement Nest Eggs – A new study by the White House Council of Economic Advisers has found that financial advisers seeking higher fees and commissions drain $17 billion a year from retirement accounts by steering savers into high-cost products and strategies rather than comparable lower-cost ones. The report has rocked the financial services industry — not because it is news but because the industry sees it, correctly, as a forceful statement of the Obama administration’s determination to do something about the problem.
  • Australia’s top 20 greenhouse gas emitters
  • Food Waste Grows With the Middle Class
  • That ugly fruit and veg – believes at least 20% of all produce is wasted just because of it’s size, shape, color, or appearance.
  • Despicable Us –  Maybe those of us who write about politics and campaigns should adopt a bristly uniform of hair shirts, so that we’re constantly atoning for our sins. Maybe we should wear targets, the better for our critics to take aim at us. Oh, how we’re hated.
  • Is the Junk-Food Era Drawing to a Close?
  • Brazil – In a quagmire: Latin America’s erstwhile star is in its worst mess since the early 1990s

Write it in Textor – competence versus chaos

February 4th, 2015 Comments off

I wonder if he’s told them how well it worked in Queensland?

competence versus chaos

From a Guardian story this morning on Crosby-Textor’s influence on the Conservative Party’s election campaign

Categories: Elections, Opinion polls, UK election Tags:

A win for the LNP but not for the Queensland Premier?

January 29th, 2015 Comments off

A victory for the LNP but defeat for Campbell Newman are being pointed to by The Owl’s election indicators.




So the talk about Queensland’s election turned to sociopaths

January 27th, 2015 Comments off

Well the stop writs have stopped nothing. Alan Jones was back on air this morning repeating his stories about Campbell Newman the liar and tossing in an intriguing new one about and mining on North Stradbroke Island for good measure.

I particularly enjoyed the chat about sociopaths in politics but I won’t go into detail because I have neither the money nor the courage of an Alan Jones when it comes to such defamatory things.

What a pity that scandal takes such a long time to seep through into public consciousness. The Liberal National Party government remains favourite to win on Saturday.


Categories: Elections, Queensland election Tags:

Labor edges a little closer in Queensland

January 25th, 2015 Comments off

A slight movement in favour of Labor on the Ow’s Queensland election indicator but the Liberal National Party government is still the firm favourite.

qld indicator (3)But perhaps the approach of the Murdoch press suggests there are fears that things really are getting closer.

sunday mail shows the family mancourier mail

When politicians try and switch attention to their spouses you know their own popularity leaves something to be desired.


A mistimed writ by the Queensland Premier?

January 24th, 2015 Comments off

I wrote at the beginning of the week that the Queensland election would be an interesting test of the power of radio talk host Alan Jones and the initial verdict is that he is capable of turning the subject of political debate even if the impact on actual voting is less certain. Without Jones’ intervention with a daily one hour session on Brisbane station 4BC, questions of the influence of big money on government decisions would not have featured in the campaign. The local media have spent three years largely ignoring questions about the Liberal National Party method of governing but Jones has forced them to change that.

Premier Campbell Newman spent this week dodging questions from his once subservient media chooks based on allegations that Alan Jones has aired. It has thrown his planned low-key, summer campaign strategy quite off the rails. That might not matter (see Alan Jones and the Springborg farm made for titillating listening for my guess on the subject) but Premier Newman is clearly worried. How else to explain his recourse late in the week to legal action for alleged defamation?

If this was a classic stop-writ, and it appears to have been, it has not worked as planned. Rather it has given the mainstream Queensland media an opportunity to give the allegations another kick along. Perhaps the LNP strategists are finding from their research that this morning’s Newspoll in The Weekend Australian is reflective of public opinion.


Or perhaps not. Pollster Mark Textor took to Twitter last night to suggest his followers have a look at some ANU research into marginal seat polling. (Read from the third message upwards.)


Textor views on polling deserve to be taken seriously but I do wonder about the likely accuracy of this one:


So far the market has been largely unmoved by campaign developments and opinion polls. The Owl’s election indicator still has the LNP clearly as the probable election winner.


The most striking ad of the Queensland election campaign

January 22nd, 2015 Comments off

It’s back on page 17 of the Courier Mail so it will have little or no influence but I’m giving it my award as the most striking ad of the Queensland election campaign

2015-01-22_dr davis

Something that might have an impact is the tag on Labor Party radio messages – number every square and put the LNP last.

If I was running the Labor Party campaign I would be saying nothing else but that in advertisements.

See The difficulty in calculating a two party vote in Queensland. See also the archive of the Owl’s items on the Queensland election


Categories: Elections, Queensland election Tags:

The difficulty in calculating a two party vote in Queensland

January 21st, 2015 Comments off

When pollsters calculate their prediction of the two party preferred vote they take the experience of the previous election in distributing the preferences of third party candidates. That’s a sensible enough procedure in normal election circumstances but I suspect that is not what we will see in Queensland on Saturday week. The Clive Palmer and Bob Katter candidates plus some of the prominent independents are promising to do something different this time and direct preferences away from the Liberal National Party. Hence I am uncertain about how much credence to put on the latest predictions of Newspoll and Reachtel. They both have it at 52% LNP to 48% ALP but perhaps it is closer than that.

Tonight’s Reachtel findings as shown on the 7 Network:


Two party preferred

Two party preferred

Categories: Elections, Queensland election Tags:

Alan Jones and the Springborg farm made for titillating listening

January 20th, 2015 Comments off

Scandalous behaviour by politicians. and more so an accusation of it, takes a long time to seep through into public consciousness so I expect Alan Jones’ words this morning about coal mining and Lawrence Springborg will have no impact on Queensland election day. Nevertheless the story of the coal miners avoiding the Springborg family farm made for titillating listening and there is sure to be more to come – especially if Palmer United Party Senator Glenn Lazarus passes on a few of the tit-bits mentioned in The Australian yesterday:

20-01-2015 lazarus


Categories: Elections, Queensland election Tags:

A nice test of the power of Alan Jones

January 19th, 2015 Comments off

Radio talk show hosts like Alan Jones have an influence on our political life because politicians think they have an influence on public opinion. I have never seen objective evidence of such impact but politicians are not mugs when it comes to deciding what influences their voters so I don’t completely dismiss the idea. Which is why I am intrigued by the entry of the Sydney based Alan Jones in to the Queensland election campaign.

Now this intervention is no ordinary pre-election rant by a conservative commentator. Alan Jones has moved to Brisbane to broadcast for the duration of the campaign to turn his form of vitriol on to Liberal National Party Premier Campbell Newman. Consider this morning’s offering as summarised  by the ABC:

Jones told radio 4BC the Newman government had an appalling track record.

“Make no bones about it – this is as bad as anything we’ve ever seen in government in Australia anywhere,” he said.

He described Mr Newman as a bully and that he “couldn’t back the Premier to win a chook raffle”.

Jones said Mr Newman lied to him in 2012 when he promised there would be no stage three of the Acland coal mine near Toowoomba, where Jones grew up.

“What’s happened on the Darling Downs under this government is a disgrace,” Jones said.

He’s first best friends with the mining giants who are plundering this state and not improving our bottom line.

“Our debt is worse than it was when Newman came into government – and our agricultural land is being squandered and he’s done nothing about the debt he said he would address.

“This is the bloke who won’t investigate why a dozen people died in the Grantham floods.

“You can’t believe a word this bloke says.”

Jones said no-one in the LNP Government was prepared to listen.

“[Health Minister Lawrence] Springborg has had a million letters about the health concerns by the people at Tara living in a coal seam gas field and those letters are unanswered.”

Not that Alan Jones is going as far as urging a vote for Labor. He points out to his audience that there are plenty of good independents worthy of support and has gone as far as endorsing some of them with campaign material.


 (Picture from Margo Kingston’s Twitter feed – )

It is an intriguing intervention although the latest opinion polls still have the LNP government ahead as does the Owl’s political indicator.

qld indicator (2)

Premier Newman’s two leadership negatives

January 8th, 2015 Comments off

Tony Abbott and his federal government is top of the list of negatives as Campbell Newman sets out on his short-as-possible election campaign. Hoping the Prime Minister goes back to his holiday by the beach and stays there for as long as possible would be one reason for choosing 31 January polling day. For the Queensland Liberal National Party the less said about those federal colleagues the better. So let’s try and pretend we are different so we can quickly move on to other things

2015-01-08_canberra bitter The Courier Mail attempted product differentiation this morning before moving on to the separate aspect of leadership negatives: who actually will LNP voters be supporting as Premier? The fact that Premier Newman’s own seat is far more vulnerable than his government overall creates a diversion that Labor will delight in exploiting.

2015-01-08_ssshgroveOf more concern to the Brisbane daily on its editorial pages was the danger of minor parties having an unhealthy influence. The Courier’s editorial pretended that a hung parliament controlled by a riff-raff was the problem when the real LNP concern is that the Palmers and the Katters will leach away support in a state where preferential voting is optional.

But the Townsville Bulletin most accurately summed up the campaigning day:

Many a true word ...

Many a true word …

And down on the Gold Coast it was a subject the government would be happy about with just a little bit of a backhander about the need to do more rather than less.


 Full Queensland election coverage HERE 

Categories: Elections, Queensland election Tags:

Power walks the favoured photo opportunity?

January 8th, 2015 Comments off
A bit of photo shopping on day one to get things started

A bit of photo shopping on day one to get things started – Courier Mail 7 January

As candidate Kate goes walking too - Courier Mail 7 January

As candidate Kate goes walking too – Courier Mail 7 January

But none of that walking nonsense for Clive - The Australian 7 January

But none of that walking nonsense for Clive – The Australian 7 January

Townsville Bulletin 8 January

Townsville Bulletin 8 January

Premier walking with the kids - The Australian 8 January

Premier walking with the kids – The Australian 8 January

Doing a little jogging for the cameras - The Australian 8 January

Doing a little jogging for the cameras – The Australian 8 January

And now a little canoeing for the action man - The Australian 8 January

And now a little canoeing for the action man – The Australian 8 January

Full Queensland election coverage HERE

Categories: Elections, Queensland election Tags:

The summer bummer headline sums up day one of Queensland election campaign

January 7th, 2015 Comments off

The sand poll. Nothing close about the Courier Mail’s  first vox pop of the campaign. Holidaymakers on Burleigh Beach went clearly in the LNP’s direction – five supporters to Labor’s two with one undecided.

The Courier Mail’s News Corp stablemate The Gold Coast Bulletin found “Waves of indifference at beach but some are looking for sharks.” It probably summed up the feeling of most Queenslanders with this front page:


Up north in Cairns the local Post daily went on page one with the result of an online question “Which party will win the next state election?” Labor 59%, LNP 41%.

At the Townsville Bulletin they had a State of the North survey of an apparently self selected 632 voters.

townsville state of the northClick to enlarge

This predicted support of 27% for the LNP, 22% for the ALP, 8% Greens, 2% PUP, 7% Kapper United Party with 34% in the undecided column.

Full Queensland election coverage HERE

 Original version – “At the Townsville Bulletin they had a go at proper polling with their State of the North survey of 632 voters.” Correction made on advice of a valued Twitter follower

Categories: Elections, Queensland election Tags:

The Courier Mail’s foretaste of the election coverage to come: Bikies back Labor

January 5th, 2015 Comments off

It was as if they knew the campaigning whistle was about to start. And this morning’s Courier Mail left no doubt about the coverage to come.

5-01-2015 bikies back labor5-01-2015 page1detail

And in case you missed that on page one, a repeat inside.

5-01-2015 incaseyoumisseditBias does not come much more obvious than that.


Categories: Elections, Queensland election Tags:

The deterministic theory of politics – people know how they will vote months in advance

January 2nd, 2015 Comments off
  • Britons know their political destiny – “Britain’s general election takes place in May, but it is already over. Most people know how they will vote. Waverers who end up making a late choice were always going to go that way. Elections are decided by fundamentals that take shape over years, not by the vicissitudes of a campaign that starts now. This is the deterministic theory of politics. It does not allow for the purchase that campaigns can have on a race as tight as this one, but it is generally right. The coming months — the posters, the manifestos, the daily media cycles “won” by one party or another — will matter less than the accretion of events since the last election. May’s result is encoded in the minds of voters already: all politicians can do is bring it out.”
  • Japan’s Population Declined In 2014 As Births Fell To A New Low
  • Happiness and satisfaction are not everything: Toward wellbeing indices based on stated preference – “There is growing interest in alternative measures of national wellbeing, such as happiness or life satisfaction. This column argues that a small number of survey questions are unlikely to capture all the aspects of wellbeing that matter to people. Using a stated-preference survey, the authors find several aspects of wellbeing to be important that are not commonly included in wellbeing surveys, such as those related to family, values, and security. This approach could be used to provide weights for wellbeing indices.”big fat surprise
  • Are some diets “mass murder”? – Richard Smith ploughed his way through five books on diet and some of the key studies to write this article for the Beitish Medical Journal – “By far the best of the books I’ve read to write this article is Nina Teicholz’s The Big Fat Surprise, whose subtitle is “Why butter, meat, and cheese belong in a healthy diet.”3 The title, the subtitle, and the cover of the book are all demeaning, but the forensic demolition of the hypothesis that saturated fat is the cause of cardiovascular disease is impressive. Indeed, the book is deeply disturbing in showing how overenthusiastic scientists, poor science, massive conflicts of interest, and politically driven policy makers can make deeply damaging mistakes. Over 40 years I’ve come to recognise what I might have known from the beginning that science is a human activity with the error, self deception, grandiosity, bias, self interest, cruelty, fraud, and theft that is inherent in all human activities (together with some saintliness), but this book shook me.”
  • Assessment of the potential for international dissemination of Ebola virus via commercial air travel during the 2014 west African outbreak – From The Lancer: “Based on epidemic conditions and international flight restrictions to and from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone as of Sept 1, 2014 (reductions in passenger seats by 51% for Liberia, 66% for Guinea, and 85% for Sierra Leone), our model projects 2·8 travellers infected with Ebola virus departing the above three countries via commercial flights, on average, every month. … Exit screening of travellers at airports in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone would be the most efficient frontier at which to assess the health status of travellers at risk of Ebola virus exposure, however, this intervention might require international support to implement effectively.”
  • Where Will All the Workers Go? – “Recent technological advances have three biases: They tend to be capital-intensive (thus favoring those who already have financial resources); skill-intensive (thus favoring those who already have a high level of technical proficiency); and labor-saving (thus reducing the total number of unskilled and semi-skilled jobs in the economy). The risk is that robotics and automation will displace workers in blue-collar manufacturing jobs before the dust of the Third Industrial Revolution settles.”

With a friend like Tony Blair who would need an enemy?

December 31st, 2014 Comments off

Hardly cheerful New Year’s eve reading for the UK Labour leader Ed Milliband on page one of London’s Daily Telegraph. Tony Blair, his party’s last election winning leader, and the most electorally successful politician in Labour history, declares that Mr Miliband risked taking his party back to the dark days of the Eighties and early Nineties, when it suffered a series of heavy defeats to the Tories. May’s general election risked becoming one in which a “traditional Left-wing party competes with a traditional Right-wing party, with the traditional result”.

Asked by The Economist if he meant that the Conservatives would win in those circumstances, Mr Blair replied: “Yes, that is what happens.”

Mr Miliband has repeatedly attempted to distance himself from New Labour, but has faced criticism for Left-wing policies, which some have argued are anti-business.

In a thinly veiled condemnation of Mr Miliband’s leadership, Mr Blair said that Labour “succeeds best when it is in the centre ground”.

“I am still very much New Labour and Ed would not describe himself in that way, so there is obviously a difference there,” Mr Blair said.

“I am convinced the Labour Party succeeds best when it is in the centre ground”. When asked what lessons he derives from his experience of winning elections, Mr Blair replied: “Not alienating large parts of business, for one thing.”

So far the opinion polls are predicting a better result for Ed Milliband’s Labour than Tony Blair appears to be if the Telegraph can be believed. The UK Polling Report website in its poll of polls survey has Labour three points ahead of the Conservatives – 34% Labour, Conservatives 31% with the Liberal Democrats on 8% trailing UKIP at  15% with the Greens on 5%.

The Owl’s market based UK Election Indicator similarly has Labour marginally more likely than the Conservatives tp be the party that wins the most seats.

UK election indicator

When it comes to predicting the party that provides the Prime Minister after the election things get more complicated. The greatest probability is that no party emerges with an overall majority

Majority government indicator UK


NSW Labor searching for another sacrificial leader?

December 23rd, 2014 Comments off

New South Wales Labor seems to be back playing its familiar game of throwing another good person after bad. From this morning’s tabloid terror:


Opposition Leader John Robertson meets the definition of a bad leader if the ability to win an election is the principal criterion. Under his stewardship Labor is heading for near certain defeat. The latest Newspoll in The Australian had the gap at 10 percentage points. Hence this new round of change the leader.

But what would be the point of changing with three months to go? Perhaps a new man might salvage a point or two but more likely the sacrificial leader would just remind voters of the side-show during the years before the Liberals and Nationals were given such a resounding victory next time.

Better to let Robbo roll on to inglorious defeat without destroying one of the few remaining Labor members with talent.


Categories: Elections, NSW election Tags:

Force me to bet on the Australian election and I’d back the Coalition

December 8th, 2014 Comments off

The opinion polls showing Labor with a comfortable lead over the Coalition keep coming. At the weekend there was Galaxy putting the twp party shares at 45% for the Coalition and 55% for Labor. This morning Fairfax-Ipsos had it 48% Coalition 52% Labor.

It is an uncommon thing to have a government so consistently behind the opposition for such a lengthy period in its first year or so in office but would you really like to put your own hard earned on Labor winning? I certainly wouldn’t and if you forced me to have a wager I’d be backing the Coalition. To me the Owl’s federal election indicator considerably overstates Labor’s chances of being the majority party come polling day.

Australian federal election indicator

Now don’t get me wrong. Tony Abbott is an unpopular Prime Minister. It’s just that with almost two years to go one of two things will most likely happen. Abbott will change his ways or his party will dump him. In both cases the voting public will start to look more closely at Labor’s Bill Shorten.

To my mind Shorten is a man who will fall short under real scrutiny, bringing the Labor vote down with him.


Trade unions really can be a positive for Labor and other lessons from Victoria

November 30th, 2014 Comments off

A few thoughts in the aftermath of the Victorian state election.

  1. Trade unions don’t have to be a negative for Labor; they really can be a positive. Fire fighters, nurses and teachers all played an important part in Saturday’s victory. Their grass-roots campaigning efforts appear to have had far more influence than the linking of Denial Andrews with the supposedly criminal CFMEU. I salute whoever devised this strategy.
  2. Voters don’t seem to attach much weight to AAA credit ratings. The Coalition thought it was a big plus for them but balancing the budget was well down the list of things Victorians thought important.
  3. Supporting wage rises that are less than the inflation rate is a sure-fire way to lose support.
  4. Unemployment is the important economic indicator even if it is unfair to blame the state government for Victoria’s high figure. Something for the Abbott team to think about as it slashes public service numbers
  5. The influence of distortion of news by newspapers on voting is not as important as newspaper proprietors would like us to believe.
  6. Labor should learn to live with the reality that the Greens are not going away. Follow the Julia Gillard example of having sensible arrangements with them rather than worry about losing an inner city seat or too. Sorry Albo.
Categories: Elections, Victorian election Tags:

The barnacles really are dragging the Abbott coalition down

November 28th, 2014 Comments off

The opinion polls have been showing it for some time and now the markets are catching up. The current Owl’s election indicator shows the Coalition’s chances of re-election have dropped considerably in recent weeks. The probability of a Coalition victory is now just 53.6%.


Labor still favoured to win election in Victoria

November 28th, 2014 Comments off

The Owl’s market based election indicator still has Labor quite a firm favourite to win tomorrow’s Victorian state election but its chances have not improved any over the last week.


To me this suggests there are believers in the underdog theory of elections alive and well. One chance in six of a Coalition victory is enough to make election night worth following for at least a few hours.


In Victoria is the election all over bar the voting? Maybe, but the Greens are providing plenty of interest

November 21st, 2014 Comments off

Two opinion polls today on the Victorian state election with one showing Labor on course for a comfortable win and the other suggesting a crushing defeat is in store for the Coalition government.

This morning Galaxy:

Untitled imageThis afternoon Roy Morgan:

roy morgan

Both pollsters are showing the Greens doing well – Galaxy has them with a primary vote of 13% while Morgan puts their support at a staggeringly high 19.5%.

Gary Morgan comments:

Gary Morgan says:

“Opposition Leader Dan Andrews has grabbed a significant lead with a week to go before the Victorian Election with the ALP (55%) well ahead of the L-NP (45%) on a two-party preferred basis. A victory for the Labor Party will mean the Liberal Government of Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine will be the first one-term Government in Victoria since John Cain Snr. in 1952-1955.

“Although the two major parties are almost level on primary vote: ALP (35.5%) cf. L-NP (35%), the high expected Greens vote (19.5%) would ensure a strong flow of preferences to the ALP. If the high expected Greens vote is maintained over the final week of the campaign a strong Greens vote gives the Greens a good chance of winning their first lower house seat at a Victorian Election in one of the Inner Melbourne seats of Brunswick, Melbourne, Northcote or Richmond.

“The Liberal Party’s negative advertising against Labor Leader Dan Andrews has provided Andrews with ‘free’ publicity and not given electors any positive reasons to vote for the Coalition.”



Labor becomes an even shorter favourite in Victoria

November 19th, 2014 Comments off

The odds about a Labor victory in Victoria keep increasing. The Owl’s election indicator, based on market prices, now gives Labor an 82.9 % chance of winning.

victorian indicator

Big beneficiaries of Victorian money raising stories are the Greens

November 6th, 2014 Comments off

A little bit of excitement for Victorian Labor Party campaigners this morning when they saw that The Australian had decided that some kind of investigation into some kind of fund raising by a couple of insignificant Liberal Party candidates was worthy of front page treatment.


Quite strange news sense for a national daily because no one outside of Melbourne’s Spring Street would actually give a hoot but perhaps it’s indicative of the News Corp head honchos wanting to give a sign that during this campaign they will not be venting their anti-Labor spleen. Whatever. On the ordinary voter it will have no influence whatsoever. Scandals, even real ones, rarely do and if they do it’ only after months and months of repetition. The best (or the worst, depending on your political prejudice) that can be said about this story is that it took the Victorian government off whatever their planned strategy was for the day.

Actually, the party most likely to be suffering from stories about political fund raising in Victoria is Labor. The pictures of Labor leader Daniel Andrews mixing with Melbourne’s rich and famous surely will be turning the minds of inner-city lefties even further towards the Greens.


Getting an assurance from Lloyd Williams that James Packer was doing everything in his power to help the state Labor cause was not really a good look for anyone interested in matters of government governance.

And if support from that quarter was not enough to suggest that fund raising has made something rotten in the state of Labor then perhaps the sight of Victoria’s richest family lending a helping hand might do the trick.


Categories: Elections, Victorian election Tags:

Going for the Democrat outsider in the US Senate race

November 2nd, 2014 Comments off

I am normally a favourite backer when it comes to elections. My experience suggests that the market on elections tends not to get the favoured party in short enough quickly enough.

So what am I doing on the US Congressional elections? Breaking my habits of a life time and going for the outsider in the Senate race.

The reason for my modest risk taking on the Democrats surviving as the majority party in the Senate comes from a couple of recent articles by Sam Wang on The Princeton Election Consortium website.

Midterm National Senate Polling Error Is Five Times Larger Than In Presidential Years and Races I’ll be Watching on Election Night  outline what Wang calls “the mid-term polling curse” whereby historically, in any given year, midterm polls have been off in the same direction by a median of 2 or 3 percentage points.

Depending on the year, either Democrats or Republicans end up outperforming polls. In current poll medians, six races are within less than 2 percentage points: Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, and North Carolina. Therefore all six of these races could be won by Republicans…or all six could be won by Democrats.
The other races total 48 Republicans and 46 Democrats/Independents. Republicans are slightly favored to take control, since an even split of the six close races would give them the 51 seats they need. However, the likely possibilities range anywhere from a Republican majority of 54-46 to a Democratic majority of 52-48. As of today, cranking through the math and the uncertainties gives a probability of 55% for a Republican takeover.

That seems a good enough reason to me to recommend an interest on the event.

Some of the British bookies are offering $8.50 about the Democrats (plus independents who decide to caucus with them) being in the majority and that would suit me just fine. In Australia Betfair offers the three options of Democrat, Republican and neither (where caucusing independents are not counted with one of the major parties). So, $20 at the $8.50 to make election watching more fun.

Details of my political punting recommendations at The political speculator’s diary

Categories: Betting, Elections, US Election Tags:

Labor price gets shorter about winning in Victoria

November 2nd, 2014 Comments off

So far so good with the “back Victorian Labor” recommendation on my The political speculator’s diary website. The $1.40 has gone with $1.28 now being the VicTab offering.
With further opinion polls over the last week showing Labor comfortably in front I do not expect that price to remain for long.
Details of present and past betting suggestions at The Portfolio – the record so far.

Categories: Betting, Elections, Victorian election Tags:

Republican control predicted for US Congress

November 2nd, 2014 Comments off

The Owl’s election indicator is pointing to the Republicans ending up with control of both houses of Congress after Tuesday’s mid-term US elections.

The probability of the House of Representatives remaining with a Republican majority is put at 99%.


For the Senate the indicator has Republican control as a 76% chance with the Democrats at 9% and no party having control at 16%.


Details of all the Owl’s indicators present and past will be found at The Owl’s Indicators page.


Antony Green shows us just how much less than 50% Labor needs to win in Victoria

October 27th, 2014 Comments off

That wonderful one-man resource Antony Green has another of his helpful seat calculators on the Victorian state election. It helps immensely in interpreting what the opinion polls might mean in terms of seats won if repeated on polling day.

Take that Labor 52% two party share shown today by Galaxy. With that uniform swing of 3.6 percentage points Labor would end up with 50 seats to the Coalition’s 38. To get a tied result of 44 seats all, Labor only needs a vote of 48.8%.

The pollsters are going to be very off the mark if Labor does not get to that level.

See details of the latest polls at The opinion polls are aligned and pointing strongly to a Victorian Labor victory.

Categories: Elections, Victorian election Tags:

The opinion polls are aligned and pointing strongly to a Victorian Labor victory

October 27th, 2014 Comments off

Two new opinion polls on the Victorian state election out today and they confirm the regular Newspoll in having Labor comfortably in the lead. Galaxy puts the two party vote at Labor 52% with the Coalition 48%; Morgan has Labor 52.5%, Coalition 47.5%; Newspoll is at Labor 55% and the Coalition 45%.

The new Galaxy result:

27-10-2014 galaxy


This afternoon’s  “special” SMS Morgan Poll on State voting intention in Victoria conducted over the last few days (October 24-27, 2014) with a representative cross-section of 1,860 Victorian electors shows the ALP (52.5%, down 1.5% since September 2014) with an election-winning lead over the L-NP (47.5%, up 1.5%) on a two-party preferred basis.

On primary voting intention the L-NP (37.5%, unchanged) still leads the ALP (34%, unchanged). The ALP’s two-party preferred lead is because the high primary vote for the Greens (18.5%, up 0.5%) is boosting the ALP two-party preferred vote into the lead. Other minor parties include the Palmer United Party (PUP), 2.5% (down 0.5%), Family First (2.5%, up 0.5%), Country Alliance (0.5%, unchanged) and Independents/Others (4.5%, down 0.5%).

Gary Morgan in commenting on the results said that “the Greens vote is currently very high and unlikely to be maintained at the Victorian Election – recent polling before several National and State Elections has shown the Greens vote high in the months before an election but dropping at the election itself. The high Greens vote is caused by ‘disenchantment’ with the policies of the two major parties. ”

Newspoll is by now a touch historical but its reading for the July-August period had Labor well in front. Like Morgan, Newspoll had the Greens with support well above their level at the last state election.

27-10-2014 newspollvictoria

Rare honesty – what money buys from an Australian politician

October 25th, 2014 Comments off

It’s not often to hear a politician talk openly and honestly about what is given in return for campaign donations. Full marks then to the former Northern Territory Deputy Chief Minister David Tollner for declaring donations would open his door “if you ever need to talk to me about something”. Speaking on 105.7 ABC Darwin on Friday Mr Tollner said people who did not donate faced “a line-up at the door”, explaining “you have to start prioritising”.

The ABC website reports:

Mr Tollner said it was “extraordinarily difficult” for political parties to raise funds for campaigning.

He said it was “incredibly important” for the democratic system that parties and candidates have the funds to run what he said was a “legitimate campaign”.

“But there will always be a question in people’s minds… what is someone donating for?” Mr Tollner said.

“When I have talked to people about donating money and the like, the best you can say is ‘your donation will open my door if you ever need to talk to me about something’.

“You are supporting a democratic process and are supporting a conservative view of the world… but you can’t buy anything more than that.”

Asked if people who did not make a political donation could make an appointment to meet with a government minister, Mr Tollner said the wait could take a while.

“When you become a minister you find quickly there is a line-up at the door… you have to start prioritising,” he said.

He denied there was any issue with having the ear of a government minister because of political donations.

“Getting an audience with someone is not giving [them] a great favour,” Mr Tollner said.

Categories: Elections, Political snippets Tags:

How Physical appearance influences who wins elections and other news and views for Thursday 23 October

October 23rd, 2014 Comments off

23-10-2014 makeover

  • It Is a Beauty Contest – “It’s shameful, of course, that physical appearance should affect something as important as who gets elected president. But the reasons for that are pretty obvious, and they pre-date democracy by several million years. That doesn’t make them right or wise or inevitable, but it does make them hard to avoid.”
  • Capitalism’s Suffocating Music – “I kept thinking of another writer, David Foster Wallace. His novel “Infinite Jest,” published in 1996, imagines a tomorrow in which time itself is auctioned off to the highest bidder and the calendar becomes a billboard. There’s the “Year of the Whopper,” the “Year of the Whisper-Quiet Maytag Dishmaster” and even the “Year of the Tucks Medicated Pad” — a 12-month paean to posterior discomfort, 52 weeks in honor of hemorrhoids. Is that future so far off? While recording devices have liberated many of us from commercials on television, the rest of our lives are awash in ads. They’re now nestled among the trailers at movies. They flicker on the screens in taxis. They’re woven so thoroughly into sporting events, from Nascar races to basketball games, that it’s hard to imagine an era when they weren’t omnipresent.”


  • Death Of Northern White Rhino Leaves Only Six Left In Existence
  • Bertha and the French Professor: Lessons for Public Private Partnerships – “Jean Tirole is an influential, respected, and by all accounts gracious man who won this year’s Nobel Prize in economics. Bertha is a 7,000-ton tunnel boring machine that’s been stuck under Seattle for nine months—but is still tweeting—as state officials and a private contractor battle over who should pay to get her out. What do Prof. Tirole and Bertha have in common? They show the strengths and weaknesses of public private partnerships.”
  • Sins Of Commission – How thirty years and nine official inquiries obscured the truth of the 1984 anti-Sikh violence – On Wednesday 31 October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her guards, both Sikh. In the ensuing violence, which lasted roughly three days, 2,733 Sikhs were killed in Delhi. Sikhs were also attacked in several other Indian cities, including Kanpur, Bokaro, Jabalpur and Rourkela. It remains one of the bloodiest and most brutal episodes of communal violence in independent India. Over the next two decades, nine commissions of inquiry were instituted. Seven of these investigated specific aspects of the tragedy, such as the death count, which was officially established by the Ahuja Committee in 1987. Two of the panels—the Ranganath Misra Commission, constituted in 1985, and the Justice GT Nanavati Commission, whose final report was published in 2005—were required to look at the violence in its entirety.”

Castrating hogs on an Iowa farm – my favourite political ad for this season

October 23rd, 2014 Comments off

“I’m Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork.”

It is certainly an ad you are likely to remember.

NPR features some other memorable moments from this year’s Congressional campaigns.

Categories: Elections, US Election Tags:

Judging the political owl’s predictions – at least they are proving profitable

September 20th, 2014 Comments off

My hunch was right about the “no” vote in the Scottish referendum. The “no” vote was stronger than the polls were predicting.
Hence a handy little profit as you will see set out on my The portfolio – the record so far page.
Since I began recording my political predictions by putting my money where my mouth is there has been a profit on turnover of 17.5%.
At the very least it lets readers make a judgment on the value of my political forecasts.

Categories: Elections Tags:

A “No” vote in Scotland the favoured prediction

September 17th, 2014 Comments off

On the eve of the vote in Scotland, a “No” vote has shortened again as the favoured outcome.


Categories: Elections, UK election Tags:

The pendulum swings back towards a “no” vote in Scotland

September 11th, 2014 Comments off

A couple of opinion polls showing a lead for the “No” vote in the Scottish referendum and the market has moved strongly back to put the probability of defeat for independence at 77%.


Categories: UK election Tags:

The Scottish mood changing with support for independence apparently growing

September 9th, 2014 Comments off

A second opinion poll for the week shows the referendum on Scottish independence has become a close run thing. Reuters reports a surge in support for those who wish to break away from the United Kingdom. A TNS survey has the  number of people saying they would vote “No” to independence dropping to 39 percent, down from 45 percent a month ago. “Yes” support was slightly behind at 38 percent but had gained ground from 32 percent a month ago.

The late rally by the “Yes” campaign led by Alex Salmond’s Scottish National Party, the ruling party in Scotland, now makes the break–up of the United Kingdom – previously thought to be a pipedream – a distinct possibility after a 300-year-old union.

British financial markets tumbled on Monday after an opinion poll showed for the first time this year that Scots may vote for independence in the referendum next week.

The YouGov poll for the Sunday Times put the “Yes” camp on 51 percent and “No” on 49 percent, excluding don’t knows.

The referendum, in which more than 4 million Scots and residents of Scotland are eligible to vote, will take place on Sept. 18.

The England based national newspapers are now taking the possibility of a breakaway from the United Kingdom seriously.


A sharing of the front pages with a new royal baby gave a certain relevance to this tweet:

The Owl’s election indicator continues to have the “No” vote favourite.


Backing the No vote again in Scotland

September 4th, 2014 Comments off

A couple of recent opinion polls have the gap between No and Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum narrowing a little but with the margin still around six points it does not look close to me. Perhaps that’s because I’m Australian and used to the No vote being the referendum winner except when all the major parties are urging people to vote Yes.
To me the $1.30 on offer about a majority for No is akin to stealing money.
I’m going in again with another $200 of my own hard earned.

Details of my bets on political events are at the portfolio page of my speculator’s diary.
The Owl’s election indicator has this assessment of the probabilities based on current market prices:


Categories: Political indicators, UK election Tags:

Rave on to get a vote

August 26th, 2014 Comments off

Well, when you are lagging along with less thsn 3% in the opinion polls I suppose you have to try something different. So why not a a rave party to disguise a policy speech? That’s the campaign technique of the Manu Internet Party in New Zealand as the 30 September election day approaches.


Now under the New Zealand electoral system the Internet Mana have to get to 5% of the national vote to gain seats unless they can win one of the single member electorates so there is some way to go from the 2.5% that the latest Morgan Poll gave them. But the Mana part of their organisation currently has a seat that could be retained which would put them in the race for a few more and, who knows, even the kingmaker position.


The Sydney Morning Herald reports this morning (behind a paywall) that the Internet Party’s flagship policy is to deliver ultrafast, cheaper web connections with greater freedom and privacy.

The combination has the potential to mobilise young people who wouldn’t normally vote, said former Labour Party president Mike Williams. ‘‘ It could change the outcome of the election.’’

Mr Dotcom* has named Laila Harre, a cabinet minister in a former Labour- led government, to head the Internet Party and is holding dance raves across the nation to capture the youth vote.

Internet Mana doubled its support to 4 per cent in a recent poll. Labour was on 26 per cent, the Greens 11 per cent and Mr Key’s National had 50 per cent. No party has won an outright majority since New Zealand introduced proportional representation in 1996.

Mr Dotcom is exploiting a quirk in the system to better his chances. Parties need 5 per cent of the vote to get into Parliament unless they win an electorate. In that scenario, their slice of the national vote determines how many seats they get.

*Wikipedia describes Mr Dotcom thus:

Kim Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz; 21 January 1974), also known as Kimble and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, is a German-Finnish Internet entrepreneur, businessman, singer, and political party founder currently residing in New Zealand. He is the founder of file hosting service Mega as well as its now defunct predecessor Megaupload. In politics he is the founder, main funder, and “party visionary” of New Zealand’s Internet Party.

He rose to fame in Germany in the 1990s as an alleged hacker and internet entrepreneur. He was convicted of several crimes, and received a suspended prison sentence in 1994 for computer fraud and data espionage, and another suspended prison sentence in 2003 for insider trading and embezzlement.

In January 2012, the New Zealand Police placed him in custody in response to US charges of criminal copyright infringement in relation to his Megaupload website. Dotcom was accused of costing the entertainment industry $500 million through pirated content uploaded to his file-sharing site, which had 150 million registered users. Dotcom has vigorously denied the charges, and is fighting the attempt to extradite him to the United States. Despite legal action still pending over Megaupload, Mega launched in January 2013, opening to the public exactly one year after Megaupload was shut down. It is a cloud storageservice that uses encryption to prevent government or third-party “spies” from invading users’ privacy.


Categories: Elections, NZ election Tags:

A debate ends and the voting in Scotland begins

August 26th, 2014 Comments off

The media consensus and the instant finding of the pollsters was that the Yes case for Scottish independence had the best of the debate last night which preceded the beginning of pre-poll voting for the referendum. But will it actually mean anything?

26-08-2014 scottishpapersondebateNot if the Owl’s election indicator is any guide. The No vote is a firmer favourite today than it was a week ago.


Voting day proper for the referendum is Thursday 18 September.

Note: The Owl backed the No vote at $1.23 and then again at $1.30. You will find details of all his political bets at the political speculator’s diary.


An animal welfare election promise and other news and views for Wednesday 16 July

July 16th, 2014 Comments off

16-07-2014 cosmetics


  • Kasimir Malevich’s ‘Black Square’: What does it say to you? – A pivotal moment in the history of modern art or the work of a self-publicist with the gift of the gab? Michael Glover searches for meaning in The Independent – “The painting itself sits in a relatively darkened room at Tate Modern, where a major retrospective of the career of its creator, Kasimir Malevich from Kiev, opens today. Given that the painting is black from top to toe and hip to hip, and that it is often said to represent a pivotal moment in the history of abstraction and the art of the 20th century, this strikes the onlooker as an odd decision. Why not be given the opportunity to see it as clearly as possible?”

Standing fully clothed in the shower to wash away negative campaign ads

July 13th, 2014 Comments off

Here’s a stunt Clive Palmer could copy every time he is attacked by Hedley Thomas in The Australian: take a shower while fully clothed and declare of such negative stories ““every time I see one, I feel like I need to take a shower.” That’s the approach Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper took in his winning gubernatorial campaign four years ago as he attempted to combat the pervasive use of negative ads attacking him.

Like our man Clive, Gov. Hickenlooper does not have a conventional politician’s background. He was a geologist then a brewpub owner before running for office.

A new draft-only beer commemorates Wynkoop founder John Hickenlooper being sworn in as Governor of Colorado

A new draft-only beer commemorates Wynkoop founder John Hickenlooper being sworn in as Governor of Colorado

But now that he has taken the chair of the National Governors Association, the showers will be out of his campaign repertoire as he seeks a second term but the dislike of negative campaigning will continue as he made clear in an interview with the Washington Post:

As he runs for reelection, Hickenlooper’s first priority is to win a second term. … Hickenlooper has another mission about which he sounds equally passionate. He wants to rid the country of negative ads. The country, he believes, is in a deep trough politically. “I think that the system has created an intensity of conflict,” he said. “I don’t think it’s sustainable over a long period. People will become so jaded and disillusioned they won’t support anything and we will begin to slip behind.”

He believes that the voter anger that he and virtually every politician can see in their states is a result of the conduct of political campaigns. “The attack ad,” he said, ‘ has become the kind of utility kit for almost every statewide campaign in the country now.” …

The businessman in him knows that negative ads are effective, but companies avoid them. If McDonald’s and Burger King went at each other in a TV ad war, he said, both would suffer and probably see their sales drop. “What we’re doing now is depressing the product category of democracy,” he said. “People turn off the news, stop reading in-depth magazine articles — especially young people. Look at the increasing reluctance of young people to vote. I think a lot of that is directly, you can lay it at the feet of these negative campaigns and relentless attack ads.”

Hickenlooper wants the media to join him in calling out those who air negative ads. “If I can convince people that good people don’t do attack ads, and that we want good people to represent us, then the attack ads work against themselves.”

Although he vows that his campaign will not air any negative ads, he knows there will be negative ads aired in Colorado between now and November, lots of them, and some perhaps aimed at helping him get reelected. He says he is powerless to prevent his allies from running them. “Trust me, I’ve talked to the lawyers on this,” he said. “I can say that every ad that I control, that I’m going to make sure my ads are positive.”

Categories: Elections Tags:

Labor favoured on initial Victorian election indicator

July 5th, 2014 Comments off

Labor is the popular pick in the Owl’s first election indicator on the Victorian State election. It assesses Labor’s chances at two in three.

3-07-2014 vicytoria


Indicators on other elections along with the outcome of past results are at The Owl’s Indicators


Categories: Victorian election Tags:

The brave Morgan Poll offers an Indonesian forecast

July 1st, 2014 Comments off

I dip my lid to Morgan Polls for venturing into Indonesia to bring one of the few available guides to the presidential election. It cannot be easy to sample public opinion in such a large and diverse nation. Time will tell about the wisdom of trying.

Today’s Morgan report declares the result too close to call with just a week to go.

Long-time favourite Jokowi (52%) holds a narrow lead over Prabowo Subianto (48%) according to yesterday’s Roy Morgan Poll on the Indonesian Presidential Election conducted in June 2014 with 3,117 Indonesian electors.

Analysing the final Roy Morgan Indonesian Presidential Poll by location shows Jokowi leads in most areas of Indonesia, although it is only a very narrow lead on Indonesia’s most populous island of Java: Jokowi (52.5%) cf. Prabowo (47.5%).

Jokowi’s biggest lead is on the tourist, and Buddhist, island of Bali: Jokowi (93%) cf. Prabowo (7%). Jokowi also leads clearly in Sulawesi: Jokowi (60.5%) cf. Prabowo (39.5%); Kalimantan: Jokowi (55%) cf. Prabowo (45%); the Maluku Islands: Jokowi (65.5%) cf. Prabowo (34.5%) and in Nusa Tenggara: Jokowi (68%) cf. Prabowo (32%).

Jokowi’s challenger, Prabowo, leads in the westernmost region of Sumatra: Prabowo (60%) cf. Jokowi (40%) and in the easternmost region of Papua: Prabowo (51.5%) cf. Jokowi (48.5%).

Presidential support by Gender

Analysing by Gender shows Jokowi’s narrow lead is based upon his strong appeal to women. Amongst women Jokowi (55%) is clearly favoured to Prabowo (45%). However, men narrowly favour Prabowo (51%) over Jokowi (49%).

Presidential support by Age

Analysing the support for each candidate also shows a clear difference between Jokowi and Prabowo. Jokowi’s appeal is higher amongst older age groups whilst Prabowo has the edge with younger Indonesians.

17-24yr olds: Prabowo (52%) cf. Jokowi (48%);
25-30yr olds: Prabowo (51%) cf. Jokowi (49%);
31-45yr olds: Jokowi (52%) cf. Prabowo (48%);
46+yr olds: Jokowi (56%) cf. Prabowo (44%).


My new political favourite – The Best Party shows the way

June 22nd, 2014 Comments off

The policies were unorthodox. Well, certainly the non-core ones.

Electors were promised free towels at swimming pools, a polar bear for the zoo, the import of Jews, “so that someone who understands something about economics finally comes to Iceland”, a drug-free parliament by 2020, inaction (“we’ve worked hard all our lives and want to take a well-paid four-year break now”), Disneyland with free weekly passes for the unemployed (“where they can have themselves photographed with Goofy”), greater understanding for the rural population (“every Icelandic farmer should be able to take a sheep to a hotel for free”), free bus tickets.

Then the core promise caveat.

“We can promise more than any other party because we will break every campaign promise.”

And the election result? The Best Party, described as anarcho-surrealists, were to govern Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik for four years.

Tages Anzeiger provides delightful details of the victory and its consequences.

The leading candidate, Jón Gnarr, a comedian by profession, entered the riotous hall full of drunken anarchists looking rather circumspect. Almost shyly, he raised his fist and said: “Welcome to the revolution!” And: “Hurray for all kinds of things!”

Gnarr was now the mayor of Reykjavik. After the Prime Minister, he held the second-most important office in the land. A third of all Icelanders live in the capital and another third commute to work there. The city is the country’s largest employer and its mayor the boss of some 8,000 civil servants.

No wonder the result was such a shock. Reykjavik was beset by crises: the crash of the banking system had also brought everything else to the verge of bankruptcy – the country, the city, companies and inhabitants. And the anarcho-surrealist party – the self-appointed Best Party – was composed largely of rock stars, mainly former punks. Not one of them had ever been part of any political body. Their slogan for overcoming the crisis was simple: “More punk, less hell!”

Key to the astounding victory was The Best Party’s campaign video.

And did politicians with a sense of humour actually actually work as a government? Apparently.

An assessment of four years of anarchist rule yields a rather surprising conclusion: the punks put the city’s financial house in order. They can also look back on some very successful speeches, a few dozen kilometers of bike paths, a zoning plan, a new school organization (that no one complains about any more) and a relaxed, booming city – tourism is growing by 20% a year (and some say that is the new bubble). In speeches, president Grímsson no longer praises Icelanders’ killer instinct, but their creativity. Real estate prices are again on the rise and the Range Rovers are back too. In polls last October, the Best Party hit its high-water mark of 38%. Shortly thereafter, Gnarr announced he would retire and dissolve the Best Party. His reason: “I’m a comedian, not a politician.” He added: “I was a cab driver for four years, a really good one even, and I quit doing that as well.”

“My question was always: ‹How do we fuck the system?” says [a former punk band member Einar] Örn. “And the answer was, we show that non-politicians can do the job as well. But quitting with a certain election victory within reach, that’s truly fucking the system!”

Categories: Elections, International politics Tags:

Which team do you think Rupert’s backing?

June 19th, 2014 Comments off

So you thought there was something unique about the way The Australian treated opinion polls. Have a look at this morning’s London Times as it decides to strengthen the anti-Labour message after the first edition:

19-06-2014 thetimes

Categories: Media, US Election Tags:

Some differing views on the European election and other news and views for Tuesday 27 May

May 27th, 2014 Comments off


  • “Charlie’s Country” – “The great Australian Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil co-wrote and stars as a dispossessed tribal man in this haunting drama from director Rolf de Heer. Though there is a story, the movie draws much of its power from poetic closeups of its star’s magnificently weathered face, as expressive as that of the great silent screen stars.”
  • Heads roll across Europe in wake of polls – The aftershocks of EU elections that saw a surge in support for anti-establishment parties rippled across Europe on Monday with mainstream party leaders losing their posts and a battle building over the bloc’s top job. The struggle over the EU’s future is due to be joined on Tuesday, when EU leaders gather for dinner in Brussels to weigh the region’s new leadership. At least two prime ministers, Britain’s David Cameron and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, were working to block the candidacy of veteran Brussels fixer Jean-Claude Juncker, frontrunner for the EU’s most high-profile post.
  • The National Front’s victory: France in shock
  • A Victory for European Democracy – “Although voter turnout was down in many places and right-wing populists scored significant gains, this weekend’s European Parliament election was historically important. It has shifted the balance of power in Europe in favor of voters.”
  • Amazon: malignant monopoly, or just plain evil?


  • A Simple, Elegant Invention That Draws Water From Air – “When Italian designer Arturo Vittori and Swiss architect Andreas Vogler first visited Ethiopia in 2012, they were shocked to see women and children forced to walk miles for water. … Their firm, Architecture and Vision, has since come up with WarkaWater, a majestic palm-like structure that may look like something you’d see in a modern art museum but it’s been designed to harvest water from the air.”

Eating advice for campaigning politicians

May 24th, 2014 Comments off

British Labour did not do as well in local government elections this week as it had hoped to and the search for explanations has begun

Labour MPs expressed despair at a series of media gaffes by Mr Miliband during the campaign – including  an unfortunate photocall at which he struggled to eat a bacon sandwich.

Labour MPs expressed despair at a series of media gaffes by Mr Miliband during the campaign – including an unfortunate photocall at which he struggled to eat a bacon sandwich.

Labour grandee Tessa Jowell said the basic presentational errors of the campaign were unforgivable. ‘If you are a politician . . . don’t eat a bacon butty when the world’s cameras are on you.’

Categories: Elections Tags:

The market unmoved by criticism of Coalition budget

May 18th, 2014 Comments off

The Coalition government remains the firm favourite to be returned at the next Australian election whenever it might be held. Last Tuesday’s budget left the market assessment as measured by the Owl’s election indicator largely unchanged.

Chances of winning:



Categories: Federal elections Tags:

The US campaign ads begin and other news and views for Monday 28 April 2014

April 28th, 2014 Comments off

28-04-2014 northstar28-04-2014 wehby

Rich men and third party politics give a different twist to the Westminster system

April 23rd, 2014 Comments off

Gordon Barton gave us a taste in Australia of rich men flirting with third party politics back in the 1960s with his Liberal Reform Group and opposition to the support of conservative Liberal and National (then Country) parties for the Vietnam war. It transmuted into the Australian Reform Movement and then the Australia Party before he lost interest – or maybe it was his money – although his plaything was kind of resurrected in the the form of the Democrats. And they did use the Senate to have a considerable say in national politics before their disintegration as a party without money and thus influence.

Bob Brown. that deservedly revered founder of the national Greens, understood the importance of men with money too. It was the millions poured into campaigning by the founder of the Wotif online travel website, Graeme Wood, before the federal election of 2010 that saw the Greens emerge as such a dominant force that Labor was forced into a formal governing agreement with them. The absence of an equivalent to that largest donation in Australian political history perhaps explains much of the declining Green vote of 2013 when Queensland’s Clive Palmer was the third party man with the millions of dollars. It was the Palmer United Party that bought enough votes this time to upset the established two-party duopoly.

In Australia the success of rich men sponsoring a third force in politics has owed much to the multi-member nature of our Senate elections although now both the PUP and the Greens have a bum on the green House of Representative benches. Perhaps there are more such third forces to come. The current experience in Great Britain certainly points in that direction with UKIP – the UK Independence Party – coming from nowhere to challenge Conservatives and Labour in the opinion polls with the traditional third party Liberal Democrats languishing well behind in fourth place.

And money is surely playing a part in the UKIP ascendancy. The Financial Times reports this morning that a “reclusive multimillionaire behind the anti-Brussels UK Independence party has vowed there will be “no limit” to his spending in the run-up to next year’s general election.

Paul Sykes, a self-made businessman worth an estimated £400m, said he wanted to counter the tens of millions spent every year by Brussels on promoting the EU. “The British people need the facts,” he said. …

Having quit the Conservatives in the 1990s over Europe, Mr Sykes said he had so far spent about “£1.2m or £1.4m” on a media blitz that includes hundreds of controversial posters attacking the EU. “We haven’t stopped spending yet,” he told the Financial Times. “I’ll spend whatever it takes for the British people to make them aware that power has been transferred from Britain without permission.”

And here’s where the money is going:

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It seems like a very powerful message to me – powerful enough to give a different twist to the Westminster two-party system.

Money might not buy you love but it seems to do alright with votes.

Europe calls and UKIP gets my first investment

April 23rd, 2014 Comments off

I have re-posted this from my little political speculator’s blog where I have actually been showing a punting profit!

With just under a month to go until the elections on 22 May for the European Parliament I’m prepared to start taking notice of the opinion polls. And there’s one thing I am getting confident about – the British Conservative Party is in for a right proper drubbing. And another – the Liberal Democrats are wasting their time even fielding candidates.
Here are the latest poll figures as tabulated on the UK Polling Report website:

It really does look like a two party race and, by-and-large, that’s how the market sees it.

At the best prices available you can back all four runners and break square. Leave out the also running Conservatives and Liberal Democrats and you can get the two chances at a glorious 90%! Surely that’s an opportunity too good to miss.
My recommendation is to wager in these proportions – $46 on Labour at the $2.2 from William Hill and $45 at Ladbrokes’ $2.25.By my calculation it’s $10 for nothing and only a month to wait.
You will find details of my outstanding bets and the betting record at The Portfolio – the record so far.

Indonesia’s politics of depression

April 14th, 2014 Comments off

The impact of defeat on the mental health of election candidates is not a subject I have ever thought about but perhaps Jeff Kennett’s  Beyond Blue should put it on its ends. At least if the Indonesian experience, a country where the subject has been studied, is any kind of guide.

The Jakarta Post reported this morning that many candidates who failed to secure votes in the recent legislative election have become depressed after reportedly giving everything they had, including personal funds, in their efforts to win votes. Recent reports from across the country have shown that of 6,600 legislative candidates running for seats in the House of Representatives, a handful have fallen into depression, displayed maniacal tendencies, or even resorted to suicide due to the losses they suffered. A tragic report came from Banjar, West Java, where a young mother hanged herself after losing in the legislative election. Local residents found her body in a bamboo hut in Limusnunggal hamlet, Ciamis regency, West Java.


See an earlier story The election voting is over so get the psychiatrists ready

Categories: Elections, International politics Tags:

The election voting is over so get the psychiatrists ready

April 9th, 2014 Comments off

The voting is over in the Indonesian parliamentary elections and the psychiatrists are preparing for the consequences. According to a recent Jakarta Globe report, hospital staff and psychologists at hospitals across the archipelago are readying themselves and preparing extra beds for a new batch of losing candidates.

“Most of the legislative candidates who will be prone [to depression] are beginners who are not ready to lose,” Fadhilah Masjaya, the director of Atma Husada Hospital in Samarinda, said in the East Kalimantan capital on Thursday. “Some of them probably have spent Rp 1 billion [$88,000] alone — then it’s wasted and they become distressed.”

Fadhilah added that most candidates would not, however, suffer from major depressive symptoms.

“We’ll treat them no different to other patients,” he said.

In Balikpapan, a booming mining city on the East Kalimantan coast, the local health agency has instructed community health clinics, known as Puskesmas, to make the necessary preparations.

“We’ve opened special posts at all Puskesmas; they’re ready to treat legislative candidates who are mildly or heavily depressed,” Balikpapan Health Agency head Dyah Muryani said. “We’ve also prepared [psychiatrists]. Doctors at Puskesmas can refer patients to hospitals or to psychiatrists.”

The newspaper report said that in the aftermath of the 2009 legislative elections, when parties began randomly recruiting legislative candidates to lure voters, the Indonesian media was packed with reports of depressed also-rans admitted to psychiatric wards, suffering public breakdowns and committing suicide. Most of the cases were attributed to losing in the elections after huge spending, which rendered many of the candidates heavily indebted.

To anticipate recurrence, Social Services Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri last month called on hospitals across the regions, particularly the mental health hospitals, to allocate special wards to treat such patients.

“We predict that there will be a lot of distressed legislative candidates, especially those who lose, after the elections,” Salim said, according to “Therefore we’ve coordinated with local administrations and hospitals to prepare special wards.”


Categories: Elections, International politics Tags:

Castrating hogs to cut through the media clutter in political campaigning

March 30th, 2014 Comments off

I’m  Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington I’ll know how to cut pork

30-03-2014 castratinghogs

That’s the message as the relatively unknown Joni Ernst seeks the Iowa Republican Party’s U.S. Senate nomination. Her television ad is designed to cut through the media clutter without the huge expense of constant repetition.

Brian Donahue, a strategist with Craft Media, told National Public Radio that when you see an ad like Ernst’s you’re also viewing a message based on political consultants’ understanding that emotion resonates more with voters than repetition.

It’s that emotional reverberation that sends it viral. “That causes what we call ‘the Buzzfeed effect,’ ” Donahue says, whose firm counts Republican political campaigns among its clients. “It compels you to do more than just shape an opinion. It compels you to share it too. Which is why so many people are seeing an ad like this.

“It did something different and it was so unpredictable,” Donahue says. “We had a female candidate running for office and she’s talking about castration and relates it to members of Congress, which is pretty unbelievable stuff. But beyond the race she’s running, people are sharing it online and that’s the effect you want to create. And that’s what emotionally, cutting-edge media does. It takes on its own life.”

Lori Raad, a consultant whose political-messaging firm, Something Else Strategies, is behind the Ernst ad, said she knew just the word itself was going to get noticed.

“Of course, our goal was for people to watch long enough to learn about Joni Ernst,” Raad says. “I wouldn’t have guessed that people would’ve linked to it to this extent, although you always hope.”


Categories: Elections, US Election Tags:

Will the left handers give Wikileaks a Senate seat from West Australia?

March 26th, 2014 Comments off

It appears we all have a tendency to veer to the left when it comes to voting. Not towards some philosophical left. Rather an actual geographic one. And left handed people veer left much more strongly than right handers.

That, at least, is the finding of a recent experiment published in the journal Political Psychology.  The paper, Moderators of Candidate Name-Order Effects in Elections: An Experiment by Nuri Kim, Jon Krosnick and Daniel Casasanto, was based on an experimental election of two hypothetical candidates, each diverging on issues and each randomly sorted into a left or right spot on the ballot. Just as previous studies have shown a donkey vote favouring the first named candidate when people vote down a list,  candidates listed on the left-hand side of this experimental ballot enjoyed a distinct advantage in gaining votes compared with those on their right. What made the finding different came when comparing the votes of left handed people with right handed ones. “Everyone, even righties, had a bias to select the candidate on the left, but that tendency was stronger in lefties,” author Casasanto says.

The paper itself is behind a pay wall but this is the abstract:

Past studies of elections have shown that candidates whose names were listed at the beginning of a list on a ballot often received more votes by virtue of their position. This article tests speculations about the cognitive mechanisms that might be responsible for producing the effect. In an experiment embedded in a large national Internet survey, participants read about the issue positions of two hypothetical candidates and voted for one of them in a simulated election in which candidate name order was varied. The expected effect of position appeared and was strongest (1) when participants had less information about the candidates on which to base their choices, (2) when participants felt more ambivalent about their choices, (3) among participants with more limited cognitive skills, and (4) among participants who devoted less effort to the candidate evaluation process. The name-order effect was greater among left-handed people when the candidate names were arrayed horizontally, but there was no difference between left- and right-handed people when the names were arrayed vertically. These results reinforce some broad theoretical accounts of the cognitive process that yield name-order effects in elections.

A report in the National Journal gives more details.

Let’s break down the results of the Political Psychology paper. Righties showed a bias for the candidate on the left because it is the first name they read. That’s consistent with other research on primacy, that there’s a bias for the first in a list. Lefties showed that effect, as well as an additional left-hand bias: Lefties chose the candidate on the left because his was the first name they read and because they have a positive association with things on the left. Whereas among righties, the candidate on the left showed a 21 percent advantage, among lefties, that jumped up to a 36 percent advantage.

There’s a huge caveat here. These results were pulled from an experiment on a fictitious election. And they are the first of their kind—it takes years of repetitive results to nail down a phenomenon. So take caution in extrapolation. “I don’t expect that we would see anything like that enormous, ridiculous, percentage point difference in real elections,” Casasanto says of the 21 percent and 36 percent advantages. “But in light of Jon [Krosnick]’s previous data. I think we have every reason to believe that these effects are and can be found in real elections.”

That previous data is contained in a forthcoming paper in the journal Public Opinion Quarterly that, analyses all statewide California elections between 1976 and 2006. California rotates candidate ballot order district by district. The analysis found when candidates were listed first (no matter the ballot type), “on average, across all contests, candidates received nearly half a percentage point of additional votes compared to when they were listed either in the average of all later positions.”

In Australia the Wikileaks Party will be encouraged by this kind of research. In the new Western Australian Senate election it has drawn the prized Column A on the left hand side of a very wide ballot paper.

Last time around, when it was positioned elsewhere on the paper, Wikileaks managed only a paltry 0.73 per cent of the WA vote. That saw it eliminated quite early in the shuffling of minor party preferences that enabled a small primary vote to end up electing one of the political tiddlers in both versions of the counts that were finally held invalid leading to next month’s new poll.

Add half a percentage point because of the favourable draw and the chances of Wikileaks start looking a lot better. Add on a bit more for the impact of lefties and the Antony Green Senate Calculator: Western Australia shows them really in the race taking into account the latest lot of minor party wheeling and dealing over preferences.

Some examples:

The Wikileaks vote remains unchanged at 0.73%

2014-03-26_waresult1Wikileaks would make it to the 17th count before being excluded.

The Wikileaks vote improves by 0.5 percentage points to 1.23% – the same six elected with Wikileaks surviving until the 19th count before being eliminated.

The Wikileaks vote improves by 0.6 percentage points to 1.33%


And there we would have it: a Wikileaks Senator. A good reason for Julian Assange and his followers to get those left handers into the polling booths.

Categories: Elections, WA Senate new election Tags:

A reminder that shorty priced election favourites can get beaten

March 19th, 2014 Comments off

Just a reminder that favourites can get beaten.

I did not produce an Owl’s election indicator on the South Australian election because the only markets available were the very fragile ones of the corporate bookmakers. Just how fragile was shown on Saturday morning when they stopped betting after Newspoll in The Australian came out suggesting, accurately as it turned out, that it was going to be a close run thing.

The night before, when I checked, the major firms had the Liberals around $1.02 with Labor at $15. Take out the bookmaker’s margin and the assessment was round about a 94% chance of a Liberal win with Labor on 6%.

The result is still uncertain but anyone who took the $1.02 would be feeling a little uncomfortable at the moment. And the Kouk’s red rover should be sweating a little as well.



Antony Green’s guide to making sense of WA’s forthcoming Senate poll

March 18th, 2014 Comments off

Antony Green’s Election Blog: A Summary of Preferences and Candidates for the WA Senate Re-election.

If you re-run last September’s Western Australian Senate election with the same votes but using the new Senate preference tickets, then the result of the WA Senate re-election on April 5 would be 3 Liberal, 2 Labor and 1 Palmer United.

This is the same as the result of the first count last September, the subsequent re-count and disaster of missing ballot papers changing the result to 3 Liberal and one each for Labor, the Greens and Sport Party…

For the re-election, several micro-parties have directed preferences in a way that now helps Labor to reach its second quota and makes it harder for the Green’s Scott Ludlam to win without a significant rise in his vote.

Bragging rights contest – Pick the South Australian election winners

March 13th, 2014 Comments off

A little contest to test your political wisdom when the votes come in from Adelaide on Sunday night. Mark your assessment of the Liberals winning in every seat and the honour and glory could be yours.

In keeping with The Owl’s desire to be the thinking person’s political blogger the contest is not completely straight forward. We have chosen the methodology of the wonderful Probabilistic Competition that the smart people of Monash University run each year on the AFL. I’ll defer to their explanation of the scoring:

The probabilistic competition involves the tipper entering the probability (between 0 and 1) that they believe a team will win the match. It is sometimes also referred to as the information theoretic or info competition. The father of information theory was Claude Shannon.

In a traditional tipping competition, the tipper is forced to choose one team as the outright winner. However the tipper still believes that the other team does have some chance, just not as much as the team they chose. (In closely matched games, you may even think it will be a draw.) Choosing a probability allows the tipper to express their uncertainty or confidence level in the outcome.

It can be simply proven that the highest expected score can be achieved by tipping the true probability. (Even though the true probability is never known.)

The scoring system works as follows: If the tipper assigns probability p to team A winning, then the score (in “bits”) gained is:

  • If A wins: 1 + log2(p)
  • If A loses: 1 + log2(1 – p)

From the above we can see that the maximum gain of 1.0 is obtained by tipping 1.0 on the winning team. This however is very risky as maximum loss of -Infinity is achieved by tipping 1.0 on the losing team.

The scoring is not symmetrical and can be very non-intuitive for the beginner. The table below gives example tips and the scores (in bits) you would receive if your team won and if your team lost. Note that p values less than 0.5 are equivalent to tipping the other team with 1.0-p. Also, p=0.5 is equivalent to sitting on the fence – you neither gain nor lose any bits. Some examples:



Liberals keep seeing the Palmer United Party danger signal

March 11th, 2014 Comments off

One thing you can say about Peter Reith is that he knows a danger when he sees one. And the danger currently in the sights of the former Liberal ministerial hard man is independent MP Clive Palmer.

Reith has used his Fairfax column this morning to attack Palmer and his party in a way that is becoming more common for Liberals. It appears to have dawned on supporter of the coalition government that the Palmer United Party has the potential to be as disruptive to them as the Greens have become to Labor.

2014-03-11_palmerPartially decide they will at state elections in Tasmania and South Australia this weekend with the bigger test to come with the West Australian Senate election next month.

The Liberal concern in Tasmania is well illustrated by the complaint lodged by the party’s state secretary Sam McQuestin over this advertisement published in The Mercury yesterday:


The alleged crime is the presence in the ad of those “three amigos” photographs. Under Tasmanian electoral law it is illegal to print any advertisement with a photo of a candidate without their written consent. The leaders pictured say they have not consented.

Hardly a hanging matter I would have thought but enough to have the Liberals pointing to the potential 12 months jail sentence that would rule the Palmer United Party’s Senator-Elect Jacqui Lambie, who the advertisement says authorised it, ineligible to take her seat in the Senate from 1 July. And what a pyrrhic victory for Tony Abbott’s team that would be with Ms Lambie replaced by another Senator chosen by PUP and Clive Palmer given yet another reason to be as difficult to deal with as possible.

A silly and childish game that Labor is joining in with by referring to the electoral commissioner a letter Clive Palmer has distributed to Tasmanian households in which, Labor says, he appears to have named both the Premier Lara Giddings and Opposition Leader Will Hodgman. That, according to ALP state president John Dowling, could potentially be a breach of section 196 of the Tasmanian Electoral Act making the federal MP also liable for a 12 month term in jail. Hard not to be on the Palmer side in arguing, as he did this morning saying that “as a member of the House of Representatives from Queensland I don’t feel I am restrained in naming any person in Australia, referring to them in relation to a public debate that’s going on in the country. And I don’t think there is any law that seeks to stop that freedom of speech.”

If there is such a law there shouldn’t be and the most likely result of this petty point scoring is to give PUP the attention needed to do better on Saturday than the opinion polls are currently showing.



Prime Minister Abbott gives the Greens a boost

March 8th, 2014 Comments off

After last September’s federal election it was possible to think that the Green vote in Tasmania was about to sink away. The party’s Senate share fell to 11.1%, down from the 20.3% recorded in 2010 and its lowest this century. Perhaps the state election would see the Greens reduced to a meagre rump.

Not so it seems now. A ReachTel poll for the Hobart Mercury this week puts the likely Green vote at 18.2%. That is down on the 21.6% recorded at the last Tasmanian state election in 2010 but represents a minor decline compared with the complete collapse being forecast for the Labor Party it partnered in government until last months political divorce. Labor’s figure in 2010 was 36.9% and the ReachTel estimate with a week to go is 23,6%.


The Mercury commentary this morning observed:

2014-03-08_commentary Increasing the chances of the Greens actually emerging with as many or more seats than Labor surely is the crass attempt of Prime Minister Tony Abbott to back the repeal of parts of the Tasmanian forest put onto the World Heritage list. Being able to concentrate on trees rather than matters of social justice tends to maximise the Green vote and concentrate on trees in the closing days of this campaign the Greens are:

John Howard joins in the PUP attack

March 3rd, 2014 Comments off

3-03-2014 howardThe evidence mounts that the Liberals see the Palmer United Party as its new principal opponent. Former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard took up the theme of the Party’s sneaky advertising on a visit to Tasmania at the weekend.

A vote for the Palmer United Party would cost jobs and be a waste, Mr Howard told a fund raising dinner in Launceston on Saturday while warning about what he says would be a mis-direction of non-Labor votes.

“Coalition government doesn’t work in a state that needs economic development,” he said.

“It is obvious that there is only one party that can form a majority government _  that is the Liberal party.

“Now the only real threat to that _ and therefore the Liberal majority government _ is that people who do not want Labor might decide to waste their vote with the Palmer party.

“If Palmer gets one or two seats he is then in the position to bargain with the Liberal party in relation to another coalition government and you have seen over the last four years that those things don’t work.

“A state like Tasmania needs to send a clear message to the rest of the country that investment is welcome and that jobs are a top priority and it can only do that if it is unfettered, if it can have a clear majority in its own right.”


Categories: Elections, Tasmanian election Tags:

Sneaky Liberals in attack on the Palmer United Party

March 2nd, 2014 Comments off

A keen observer of electoral advertising would realise that Sam McQuestin is a key player in the Tasmanian Liberal Party team. The state party director’s name is the one that appears at the bottom of all the Liberal ads.

2-03-2014 libadBut when it comes to being negative about the Palmer United Party, Sam prefers not to disclose his Liberal Party affiliation. From this morning’s Sunday Tasmanian:

2-03-2014 sneakyliberalsProbably a sign of just how concerned the Tassie Liberals are that PUP just might do well enough to thwart their efforts to become a majority government.



Categories: Elections, Tasmanian election Tags:

Something remarkable must happen for Labor to survive in South Australia

March 1st, 2014 Comments off

Grim news for the South Australian Labor Government this morning. Newspoll in The Australian has it well behind with the election just a fortnight away.

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Categories: SA election, SA Polls Tags:

Time to start taking notice of Victorian opinion polls

March 1st, 2014 Comments off

With only nine months to go before the Victorian state election we are now at the point where opinion polls start to tell us something relevant. And the message from this morning’s Nielsen survey result in The Age is that the Liberal-National coalition government has a real battle on its hand to win again. The Age reports that the poll of 1000 Victorian voters taken during the past week shows the Coalition’s primary vote stuck at 41 per cent, well below the peak of 45 per cent achieved at the November 2010 election, with Labor on 37 per cent and the Greens on 13 per cent.

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Not of such relevance in my opinion is the Nielsen poll of voting intentions in New South Wales where the next election is 13 months away. As published in the Sydney Morning Herald the poll has Labor hitting the front on the two party preferred vote for the first time since its disastrous result in 2014. If I was a Sydney Liberal I would not be at panic stations yet but I would be trying to persuade the Daily Telegraph to stop taking cheap shots at Premier Barry O’Farrell.

1-03-2014 nswpollJust in passing I note that in Victoria, where the opinion poll probably does say something meaningful, The Age consigned it to an inside page. In NSW, where the next election is much further away. the new tabloid Saturday Herald used the egg beater to make it a tasty front page tale.


A close run thing for control of the US Senate in November

February 24th, 2014 Comments off

There’s a lengthy analysis on the Real Clear Politics site at the moment on How Likely Are Democrats to Lose the Senate? at the US mid-term Congressional elections in November that suggests the conventional wisdom of the pundits is that they are more likely to do so than retain their current majority. The problem the Democrats have, the analysis suggests, is the low approval rating of President Barack Obama,


Using what has happened at past elections RCP’s Sean Trend compiled this summary of  what the Democrat losses in the Senate would be for various Obama approval ratings:



This is a grim picture for Senate Democrats, suggesting that the president would have to get his approval above 50 percent by Election Day before they would be favored to hold the chamber. This is also consistent with what we’ve seen in polling, which shows the seven “red state” Democrats in truly severe states of distress, while Democrats in Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire and Colorado are exhibiting surprising weakness.  If these 11 seats are showing similar signs of weakness in November, Democrats will have an extremely difficult time holding the chamber.  At Obama’s current 44 percent approval rating, we’d expect Democrats to lose somewhere between nine and 13 seats.

Well that’s one view of the prospects in November but the Owl is more inclined to stick with the wisdom of the crowds and look at how his Congressional Election Indicator assesses things. This is the market assessment for contol of both the House of Representatives and the Senate:

2014-02-24_congressionalkindicatorsYou will find the Owl’s Indicators for other events HERE.



Categories: Political indicators, US Election Tags:

Understanding the consequences of the WA Senate election – thanks to Antony Green

February 20th, 2014 Comments off

I give thanks to the ABC’s election analyst Antony Green for guiding me through the permutations and combinations thrown up by the need to have a new election to fill the West Australian Senate seats after 1 July. You will find the full Green analysis on his blog but this is the summary:

On the Federal election results, from 1 July the Coalition will have 33 seats, Labor 25, the Greens 10, with eight cross-bench members holding the balance of power. The cross bench Senators represent Palmer United two Senators and one each from the Nick Xenophon Group, the DLP, Liberal Democrats, Family First, Motoring Enthusiasts Party and the Sports Party.

Assuming the first four seats in WA will split two to the right for the Liberal Party and two to the left for either Labor or the Greens, the question is how the final two seats will split.

If a third seat is won by the Liberal Party, then it is likely the final seat will be won by a minor party, maybe Palmer United, from a seat normally won by the left. This would be a status quo result compared to last September’s election.

Another possibility is that as well as a minor party winning a seat from the left, one could also be lost by the right. The Liberal Party would hate to lose its third seat to the National Party for instance, but might find that a better prospect than some other party.

But if the left in Labor plus the Greens won back their traditional third seat, and a minor party won the third Coalition seat, the Senate balance of power would be changed.

A Labor or Green gain would give 36 seats to the left in the Senate, meaning only two votes from the cross bench would be needed to block government legislation. That is only a minor change from the three seats required in the Senate that had been due to take its place on 1 July, but could be an important influence on certain types of legislation.


An Adelaide Advertiser Labor election launch yawn

February 17th, 2014 Comments off

It is going to be a hard battle for South Australian Labor to get its message across if today’s Advertiser is anything to go by. The party’s big set piece policy launch on Sunday barely made it on to page one.

17-02-2014 advertiser

Categories: Elections, SA election Tags:

A century breaking vote for Labor in Tasmania?

February 16th, 2014 Comments off

Grim news for the Labor Party in Tasmania as the state election approaches. A poll in Saturday’s Hobart Mercury puts the Labor share of the statewide vote at just 24.6%. 16-02-2014 Taspoll If that happens it will be the worst result since the 10.6% recorded in 1903 when candidates stood under the Labor banner for the first time. 16-02-2014 laborvote

Fairfax in NZ shows how to responsibly treat an opinion poll

February 15th, 2014 Comments off

Sometime between now and 24 January next year, but probably no later than 6 December, New Zealand will go to the polls so the country is entering the peak opinion poll season. But not yet, on the latest evidence, to the ridiculous level at which the Australian media covers surveys of how the public would vote even in the non-election years like this one.

This morning the Fairfax owned Christchurch paper The Press publishes a new Fairfax Media – Ipsos poll that shows the National government well in front of its Labor opponent. On page one there is a pointer to the findings but none of the hysterical analysis that would accompany such a finding in the Fairfax Australian tabloids.

15-02-2014 thepress

Details of the poll findings are consigned to page seven where the analysis treats them with sensible caution.

15-02-2014 nzpoll15-02-2014 pollanalysis


Categories: Media, NZ election, NZ polls, Opinion polls Tags:

Will UKIP top the European election poll?

February 11th, 2014 Comments off

The Liberal Democrats, it seems, are awakening to the possibility that UKIP nay be the highest polling party in the forthcoming election of British members of the European Parliament. Writing in The Independent this morning, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg declares his party will go head-to-head with Ukip at the May elections. He will contrast the Liberal Democrats’ unashamedly pro-European stance as “the party of ‘in’” with Ukip’s policy of leaving the EU.

His aim is to deny Ukip its “breakthrough moment” by mobilising pro-European voters. Nigel Farage’s party has been widely tipped to come top in the Euro polls, which are fought under proportional representation, with Labour forecast to come second and the Conservatives third.

The Owl’s election indicator currently has the UKIP the party most likely to get the highest vote.


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Griffith by-election prospects

February 7th, 2014 Comments off

Governments normally do not do well at by-elections but then again they normally don’t have the advantage of an opponent with a considerable personal following retiring. It’s the departure of Kevin Rudd that adds some interest to tomorrow’s Griffith poll.

The Owl’s Election Indicator, based on what the market expects, assesses the chances this way:


Categories: Elections, Federal elections Tags:

Dusting down the law-and-order playbook for the Tasmanian election

January 25th, 2014 Comments off


What would an election be without it? Law-and-order has made its early election campaign appearance with the Liberal leader Will Hodgman promising more policemen on the beat if and when he becomes premier. The Liberals have promised to spend $33 million to put 108 extra police officers on the beat during their first four years of government and restore police numbers to the level preceding 2011 cuts made by the Labor government. And where will the money be coming from to ay for this initiative? Well the magic asterisk will do the trick – it will be taken out of savings made in the Liberals’ alternative budget.

If you can’t get a footballer, get a footballer’s mum. Clive Palmer has a penchant for footballers. His Palmer United Party stood several of them at the federal election and one of them will be a Senator come 1 July. This week in Tasmania there was a variation on the PUP theme. Debra Thurley, mother of Clarence football star Cameron Thurley,is the lead candidate on PUP’s five-member ticket for the seat of Franklin. Ms Thurley’s son, reports Ther Mercury this morning, was left fighting for his life last year after an accident at a Hobart nightclub in September. The former AFL player was in a coma for 23 days and his mother said the time she had spent with her son gave her the opportunity to see firsthand the difficult circumstances Royal Hobart Hospital staff worked under. ‘‘Cameron really, really wants me to do this and was very supportive when I was running before [in the federal election],’’ she said.

From this morning’s Australian papers.

Jakarta bent upon rocking the boat – Cameron Stewart in The Australian writes how Australia and Indonesia are fast losing patience with each other over asylum-seekers, putting at grave risk Canberra’s hopes of repairing the diplomatic damage from the recent spy scandal.

“Yet it is Indonesia that is setting the tone for this latest slide in the relationship. Indonesia’s inflammatory response this week to unproven claims that returned asylum-seekers were abused by the Australian navy says much about Jakarta’s prickly mindset in the wake of boat turnbacks and the spying controversy. So does its overreaction to the mistaken intrusion into Indonesian territorial waters by the Australian navy, which has prompted Indonesia to send extra military forces to patrol its border zone.”

‘Positive’ PM cuts impressive figure in Davos – Dennis Shanahan retains his title as Tony Abbott;s greatest cheer-leader with this piece in the Oz:

“Yet Abbott has used his three-day flying visit to Switzerland to full effect on every level and left a positive impression with some of the most senior business people in the world as well as ‘opinion formers’, WEF directors and other world leaders. Chief executives of foreign corporations were asking after some of Abbott’s presentations if they ‘could have one of him’ in their country because of his clear and positive outlook.”

Pilger deploys a bludgeon against ‘racists’ like us – Gerard Henderson uses his Oz column for a little film reviewing with a John Pilger documentary in his harsh sights:

Some of the alienated types are best described as belonging to the FIFOE set. That is, they are fly-in, fly-out-expatriates who make use of January 26 to give their nation of birth a dreadful pasting. Perhaps the most prominent FIFOE is John Pilger, the Sydney-born, London-based filmmaker and journalist who writes for the leftist New Statesman magazine. You have to admire Pilger’s chutzpah. For decades, he has been writing books and making documentaries about Australia, which he describes as a ‘secret country’. Never before has a so-called secret nation been examined in such detail from open-source material. Pilger’s latest documentary, Utopia, is produced by Dartmouth Films in association with the taxpayer-subsidised SBS TV Australia. Many of Pilger’s previous films have been shown on ABC TV. So Pilger gets taxpayer-funded assistance to reveal details about Australia which he claims were hitherto ‘secret’… Pilger’s alienated preaching seems to have little impact outside of the green-left set. His aggressive vox pops of selected Australians that feature in Utopia suggest he doesn’t like his fellow citizens very much and appears to regard them as uninformed racists. Australians tend to have good antennae with respect to alienated members of the intelligentsia who look down on them.”

Some links to other things I’ve found interesting today.

  •  President Boehner? Not If That Rules Out Wine And Cigarettes – “House Speaker John Boehner used his first-ever appearance on NBC-TV’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to talk politics and, as President Obama and others have also done on late-night TV, have some fun at his own expense. Asked Thursday if he has any presidential ambitions, the Ohio Republican joked that: — ‘Listen, I like to play golf. I like to cut my own grass. You know, I do drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. And I’m not giving that up to be president of the United States.’
  • John Quiggin is, as usual, Brilliant.

Labour continues to lead in the UK polls and on the Owl’s election indicator

January 18th, 2014 Comments off

Opinion polls in the UK continue to show Labour with a substantial lead over the governing Conservatives  and their coalition partner the Liberal Democrats.


From UK polling Report

The verdict of the Owl’s Indicator give Labour a 56% chance of winning the most seats when the election finally comes.

The Owl’s UK election indicator


Categories: Opinion polls, UK election, UK polls Tags:

Job creation memories – a note on economic forecasting

January 6th, 2014 Comments off

This item from the Sydney Morning Herald this morning brought back some memories of election campaigns long past.

6-01-2014 jobmemories

In 1983 an earnest young economist who had spent months working seriously on Labor policy matters presented me with his final conclusions as to what should be promised about employment growth under a new government. I forget the recommended figure – 350,000 new jobs over three years or something – but it didn’t have the right ring to my well honed economic ears. So a much more grandiose 500,000 new jobs appeared in the shadow Treasurer Paul Keating’s election manifesto. The real surprise to me came a few years later when I heard the then proper Treasurer Keating boasting about how he had done even better than he had promised. So much for forecasting.


Categories: Economic matters, Federal elections Tags:

Indonesia’s election uncertainty – LPG prices and polygamy

January 6th, 2014 Comments off

Getting ready for a new form of Indonesian government. The omens seem to be pointing to a rather different form of government in Indonesia after this year’s elections with considerable uncertainty about who will replace Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as president. President Yudhoyono, having served two terms, cannot stand again and his Democratic Party is yet to choose a candidate.  The Jakarta Post in a page one story this morning noted that the popularity of the Democratic Party had plummeted over the past years due to various graft cases involving its top members and suggested there was now more than a little campaign panic:


Not that the current governing party is the only one with its problems. Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Anis Matta’s decision to go public with his polygamous life does not seem to bode well for the Islamic party’s future in the upcoming election, reports the Post

A recent series of messages on Twitter posted by PKS deputy secretary-general Fahri Hamzah on Anis’ polygamous life with his second wife Szilvia Fabula has instead further tarnished the party’s image following the beef import graft case that implicated Anis’ predecessor, Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq…

Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) political analyst Syamsuddin Haris said Anis’ move had a negative impact on the PKS.

“Even though sharia law recognizes polygamy, it’s not something that can be accepted by many Muslims in the country because they tend to choose monogamous marriage. It will surely reduce the party’s chances of gathering more votes in the election,” Syamsuddin said.

He added this blunder would see those who wanted to vote for an Islamic party shift their support to the United Development Party (PPP), the National Mandate Party (PAN) or the National Awakening Party (PKB).

A survey released last year by the Indonesia Research Center (IRC) put the PKS in seventh position on a list of the most electable political parties. The survey found that the PKS would only receive 2.8 percent of the vote if the legislative election was held at that time, far lower than the 7.99 percent it secured in the 2009 election, making it the fourth largest faction in the House of Representatives.

Moreover, activist Defarina Djohan said polygamy was a barbaric tradition as it occurred before Islam came to the world.

“Arabic men used to marry hundreds of women at that time and then Islam came and reduced that practice by limiting the number to only four wives. The essence here is not only about the figure, but also fairness, because Islam emphasizes justice,” Defarina said.

She also said women were smarter today and they would not support those who practiced polygamy.

“Women comprise 49 percent of total voters, which is a significant portion. In addition to that, not all men support polygamy,” she continued.

Categories: Elections, International politics Tags:

The five most memorable US political ads of 2013 – News and views for Monday 2 December

December 2nd, 2013 Comments off

Some news and views noted along the way.


  • 5 Most Memorable Political Ads Of 2013 – “It may have been an election off-year, but that didn’t stifle the creativity of political ad-makers in 2013… Politicians often use family members in campaign spots, but this one was particularly noteworthy: Sciortino’s father is a member of the Tea Party. The two engaged in a playful back-and-forth about their political differences.”
  • Work in the Age of Anxiety – The 40-Year Slump – “All the factors that had slowly been eroding Americans’ economic lives over the preceding three decades—globalization, deunionization, financialization, Wal-Martization, robotization, the whole megillah of nefarious –izations—have now descended en masse on the American people… The middle has fallen out of the American economy—precipitously since 2008, but it’s been falling out slowly and cumulatively for the past 40 years. Far from a statistical oddity, 1974 marked an epochal turn. The age of economic security ended. The age of anxiety began.”
  • Sistema – “There are any number of paths and initiations into sistema, the liquid mass of networks, corruptions and evasions – elusive yet instantly recognisable to members – which has ordered the politics and social psychology of Russian civilisation since tsarist times.”
  • Turning Good Economic Luck into Bad – “It is often difficult to understand how countries that are dealt a pretty good economic hand can end up making a major mess of things. It is as if they were trying to commit suicide by jumping from the basement. Two of the most extreme cases (but not the only ones) are Argentina and Venezuela, countries that have benefited from high prices for their exports but have managed to miss the highway to prosperity by turning onto a dead-end street. They will eventually have to make a U-turn and backtrack over the terrain of fictitious progress.”

Trial balloon season in US presidential politics

December 1st, 2013 Comments off

Long-Shot Candidates Look To Keep Hope Alive For 2016 : It’s All Politics : NPR.

It’s trial balloon season in presidential politics.

Not for the headline-devouring, top-tier prospects like Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, but rather for the long shots and lesser-knowns who are floating their names for 2016. …

Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said many of these potential candidates are after one thing: free publicity.

“Politicians and public figures are taking advantage of the vacuum in presidential electoral politics right now,” Scala said. “When there’s a name floated, and if they’re at all prominent, it will get some coverage.”

Categories: Elections, US Election Tags:

Stopping minor party nonsense – South Australia leads the way

November 26th, 2013 Comments off

An interesting story today on the In Daily – Adelaide Independent News site that predicts that in South Australia something will be done to stop the lunacy of candidates with virtually no votes in their own right winning seats in the parliamentary upper house.

The story says that new laws to bar Upper House candidates who can’t gather more than 2.5 per cent of the primary vote from collecting preferences will be rushed through parliament this week.

After intense negotiations between the main players in the last fortnight, a deal has been agreed to add a further amendment to have a 2.5 per cent minimum vote qualification.

“It means that if you can’t get 2.5 per cent of the primary vote, then you are not eligible to ‘receive’ preferences,” Shadow Attorney-General Stephen Wade told InDaily.

“As candidates are eliminated, their preferences will only go to candidates above that 2.5 line.

“It will prevent the coordinated harvesting that’s happened in a few recent elections.”

The Bill also proposes changes to prevent candidates “sending a message” with their group name or using common members in group qualification.

The  changes include:

  • A single candidate for the House of Assembly be required to obtain the support and signature of  20 electors and a candidate for the Legislative Council 100 electors (as opposed to the current requirement of two). This is unlikely to get broad support and is expected to be knocked out.
  • Only political parties and groups may lodge a voting ticket and hence obtain an  ‘above the line’  voting ticket square.
  • If candidates group together, they must have the supporting signatures of different electors.
  • Limits to the number of descriptive words that may be provided adjacent to a candidate or group name on the Legislative Council ballot paper from five or less words to two words. An amendment from “Nick Xenophon Group” candidate John Darley, to increase this to three words, is expected to be approved.
  • The ballot paper will be required to list candidates and groups in an order beginning with registered political party groups, independent groups and then lastly independents candidates.

Attorney-General John Rau said the current South Australian laws had too many loop holes that could be used to lever an almost unsupported candidate into a seat in parliament.

“The Government believes that these outcomes are undemocratic,” he said.

“This capacity to manipulate the system needs to be addressed.”

See previous post: Comfortable Liberal lead in South Australia but ALP a little closer

Categories: Elections, SA election Tags:

Is this a Guardian joke? Labor strategist Bruce Hawker to address negative campaigning as Ed Miliband accuses David Cameron of mud-slinging

November 25th, 2013 Comments off

I guess it’s true because I read it in the paper, didn’t you? Bruce Hawker, fresh from his recent triumphs for Kevin Rudd and Labor in Australia, flying off to London to help the British Labour Party? Surely not. But then the website of the Guardian tells me:

Labour is to receive advice this week from an Australian Labor campaign manager on how to combat negative election campaigning by rightwing media. …

The Australian Labor campaign strategist Bruce Hawker is due to speak to the Labour party this week on the impact of the Murdoch press in defeating Labor’s Kevin Rudd. In an article in the magazine Progress, he says the Murdoch press always had major stories ready to distract the public from Labor’s positive messages.

He advises Labour: “It is important to hang a lantern on any media-led campaign against Labour well before the election is called so you do not waste precious campaigning time exposing the motivation behind their attacks, as we were forced to do. Second, enlist allies and third parties to reinforce your message about media bias. Research and publicise the concrete examples early and often. Put together a team to ‘war-game’ possible attacks by hostile media outlets and how to pre-empt them or respond effectively. Utilise social media as a strong alternative means of disseminating your message.

“It is also a very effective medium to lampoon and expose media bias. And enlist their competition to expose bias. Remember, your enemy’s enemy is your friend”.

Maybe the Owl’s British Election Indicator is wrong about the chances of British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron after all!


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Record Vote for Minor Parties at 2013 Federal Election

November 19th, 2013 Comments off
Categories: Elections, Federal elections Tags:

Comfortable Liberal lead in South Australia but ALP a little closer

November 15th, 2013 Comments off

The favourite Labor tactic of sacking a leader when the opinion polls turn against the party has yet to pay dividends in South Australia. The Galaxy Advertiser poll published this morning shows the Liberals with an election winning lead. The Labor two party vote is at the same level as when Jay Weatherill replaced Mike Rann as Premier but significantly higher than the previous poll back in March.


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