From Oregon, I’ve been reading with befuddlement the noises that Gordon Brown might call an early election. Maybe it’s jet lag, but it seems to me that the time to have called an early election was July 2007. Rumor has it he’s considering 25 March, which is only six weeks in advance of the assumed date (to correspond with local elections in early May) and not all that far in advance of the latest possible date for an election (5 June I believe).
Author Page for Dave Brockington
Born in San Jose, grew up in Seattle, received a Ph.D. in poli sci from University of Washington, worked for three years at Universiteit Twente in Enschede, Netherlands, and have worked at the University of Plymouth for eight academic years now in Plymouth, United Kingdom.
and not because the Tories may win, or even that the election may result in a hung parliament.
“The American incarcerated population, 2,212,475 persons strong, is larger than the population of the fourth-largest city in the United States, commands a greater population than fifteen individual states, and contains more people than the three smallest states combined. If the incarcerated population of the United States were a state of its own, it would qualify for five Electoral College votes.”
And two U.S. Senators!
African-Americans in particular were disproportionately disenfranchised and living in states where disenfranchisement is permanent even after a felon completes their sentence. Today, an estimated thirteen percent of black men are unable to vote due to a felony conviction.
I largely agree with everything that Paul has written, and the comments thread off of that one is excellent. Having had my daughter for the last three days, I’ve not had an opportunity to do much of, well, anything beyond pay her attention and acquiesce to her three-year old demands, so now that I have a moment, I’ll offer some comments.
There were some fairly significant changes from past practice. For the past three, four, or five? World Cups, a combination of past performances in the World Cup (either two or more often three tournaments back) with an index based on current, one year, and two years past FIFA rankings. For 2010, it’s the October FIFA ranking (only) combined with geography. The hosts, as is practice, are also seeded.
Teams are divided into four “pots”; each group will be populated with one team from each pot. Here they are:
Pot 1 (seeds): South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England
Pot 2 (Asia, Oceania and North/Central America): Representing Asia: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia; Oceania: New Zealand; CONCACAF: United States, Mexico, Honduras
Pot 3 (Africa and South America): Africa: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria; S. America: Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay
Pot 4 (Unseeded Europe): France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovakia
The logic is the “best” eight sides are kept apart in the group stage, and no two teams from the same confederation will meet in the group stage (thus making my dream match of South v North Korea highly unlikely) except for Europe — there will be five groups with two European teams.
Hence, by selecting what FIFA believe to be the top eight sides, even though those top eight sides are not directly related to their own sketchy monthly rankings, and ensuring that those eight sides are placed in eight different group, the odds are significantly enhanced that those eight will make it through to the knock-out stages.
This doesn’t always happen of course; France finishing last in its group in 2002 is a clear memory, but all eight seeded sides did progress in 2006, but it does sharply reduce the odds of, say, an Algeria v North Korea quarter final (but imagine the TV ratings back in Pyongyang).
There are, as usual when it comes to FIFA, some idiosyncrasies. Neither France nor Portugal are seeded, even though they both are (currently) ranked higher than England. I don’t think France are all that any longer, but Portugal did knock England out at the quarter finals of both the 2006 WC and the 2004 European Championships. BBC Radio 5 Live suggested this morning that the French are being punished for the Ireland tie. What has not gone reported is that the seeds were based on the October, not November, rankings, in order to mitigate any built in advantage that teams involved in playoffs (as opposed to friendlies) during the month of November might have enjoyed.
Which is a different way of saying “FIFA sleight of hand”. The only two teams in the top seven in November are Portugal (5th) and France (7th). Neither Argentina nor England would have been seeded.
What does this mean for the USA tomorrow? It’s going to be grim, regardless; put the Confederations Cup performance away (which was uneven in any event). There are several best / worst case scenarios out there in blogosphere, but before we get too depressed, The Times has this worst case scenario for England:
a worst-case scenario would still involve them being drawn in the same group as France, Ivory Coast and the United States.
How sweet of the English media to suggest that the USA are in their own personal group of death. For the US, placing the CONCACAF and Asian and Oceania teams in the same pot means that we can not draw any of them — this screws us as it’s the weakest of the four pots; while ruling out the North v South Korea match, this also rules out the USA v North Korea match (remember France 1998 against Iran? I’d rather I didn’t as well).
Prost Amerika suggests these best / worst cases:
Best Case Scenario: Argentina, USA, Algeria, Switzerland.
Worst Case Scenario: Spain, USA, Ivory Coast, France.
I’d rather draw South Africa from the first pot, but that would rule out Algeria from the third. It’s a worthy trade off I think, so this is my best / worst case scenario:
Best: South Africa, USA, Paraguay, Greece (or Slovenia, or Switzerland . . . )
Worst: Brazil, USA, Ivory Coast, Portugal.
When it comes to drawing from the first pot, outside of the hosts they are all scary; when it comes to drawing the least dangerous of the European pot, there are several that are equally preferable to Portugal, France, or Denmark.
I will be discussing the resulting draw at some point this weekend, possibly even tomorrow evening (UK time).
at least until Michael White goes moderately Over The Top in his latest rambling, expansive Guardian piece on Friday. While LGM readers know that I am highly critical of the Wingnut approach to democracy and debate, and I don’t consider it healthy at all, I’m not about to start drawing comparisons to Ft. Sumter in 1861.
It is the scale of the irrational, emotional and, dare I add, ignorant, reaction his presidency has unleashed on the American right, some of it understandable in a fast-changing and confusing world, much of it ugly and increasingly violent in tone.
Friends keep saying: “It’s changed since you lived there, Mike.”
White lived in the US from 1984 to 1988, so, um, duh, of course it’s changed. That’s a generation. I’m willing to bet that Britain has changed since 1988 as well.
Senator Lindsey Graham is censured by the mighty Charleston County Republican Party for — shock and horrors! — compromising with the opposition on Cap and Trade.
Now, I thought that’s what was supposed to happen in legislative bodies — compromise. Not for the Angry Republicans however. They prefer ideological purity and dictatorial governance.
Where did we last see something like that?
“I’m not asking anyone to be any less conservative — please don’t,” Mr. Rogers said. “But be more civil in communicating that conservative message. Don’t get on TV talking about ‘The president’s a racist.’ Don’t get on the radio talking about Waterloos.”
Civility. A civil right wing in the U.S. Now that would be something.
The Guardian published the NME’s list of the best 50 albums of the last decade a few days ago, and I’ve been meaning to comment.
But, Bruce people laughed about a lot of hilarious things in previous decades that turned out, with the passage of time, to not be bloody funny at all.
So when Bruce Forsyth, CBE, so called “national treasure” of Britain (and still on the telly every week hosting the wildly popular and utterly pointless Strictly Come Dancing, the forebear to what I’m sure is the equally popular and pointless Dancing With the Stars in the U.S.), lamely attempts to convince us that Paki is as racist as Limey, meaning it isn’t racist at all but just something we should all laugh off, all we can do is sigh and continue to pay our license fee* (£142.50 this year, and I pay mine every December . . . )
Or maybe when you’re 81, you may still find things funny that haven’t been since Neville Chamberlin was Prime Minister?
* This is one of the more regressive taxes among the western democracies, and one I happily pay every year. Value for money and all that malarkey, Forsyth, Russell Brand, Jonathan Ross, and George fecking Lamb aside . . .
The Observer published the new Ipsos-MORI poll on Sunday on voting intentions for the forthcoming British election, and the media are all aflutter about its implications. Specifically, the Tory lead has shrunk to six points down from over 20 this past summer: 37% Conservative, 31% Labour, 17% Liberal Democrat.
This matters not only because of the electoral system writ large, but the way the constituencies are drawn, weighted (Scotland and Wales still have a built in advantage in population : seats ration, even post-devolution), and how partisan support is distributed. Here at the University of Plymouth we are considered experts in the field of British electoral politics with our Local Government Chronicle Elections Center. Two of my colleagues in the Elections Center have produced a handy media guide that breaks down the redrawn constituency boundaries for the 2010 election, with a matrix that predicts the distribution of seats in the new parliament assuming a uniform national swing. When 37% Conservative is compared to 31% Labour, we end up with a distribution of C 283, L 273, LD 62: a hung parliament.
However, let’s not get carried away, yet. I do have a few critical comments about how the poll is being interpreted. Ipsos MORI are a highly respected polling firm, but nowhere in their releases, hence nowhere in the media, do we find any explicit information regarding the margin of error. We do, however, have the N: 1,006. This basically equates to an MoE of 3% assuming a 95% confidence interval. In other words, the “true” value of support for the Tories is between 40% and 34%, Labour 34% and 28%, etc., with 95% certainty. The best case scenario for the Tories with these numbers equates to: C 329, L 227, LD 63. A comfortable majority.
But wait, there’s more!
The overall N and the estimates reported by Ipsos MORI do not match. The support estimates are based on a rough likely voter model / filter which the firm terms “certain to vote”. This reduces the N to 513, and roughly increases the MoE to 4.5%. Meaning, the true value is somewhere between 41.5% and 32.5% for the Tories, and 35.5% and 26.5% for Labour. When matched against UK Polling Report’s poll tracker, the 6 point Tory lead is an outlier — not an egregious outlier as it is at least consistent with the trend from the past month, but an outlier nonetheless. (Anthony Wells at UKPR also has an informative take in his blog on this poll hitting different issues than I have here.)
Interestingly, the total size of the sample offering a voting intention of any likelihood is 799, and those numbers are 34-34-16. This suggests that Labour’s best strategy is to mobilize their base, or those that are unlikely voters but if they were to vote would vote Labour.
Considering the above, I’m not going to comment on Nick Clegg’s tactics regarding the Lib Dems role in a potential hung parliament, or his own grasp of what democracy is all about, nor am I going to consider all the possible ramifications and political gymnastics leading to a hung parliament, but then I am also not going to boldly come out and proclaim that a hung parliament ain’t gonna happen, cowboy.
I recognize that the media have a news hole to fill, and in terms of electoral politics here in the UK, this is the most interesting story in a while. However, let’s wait for a few more polls to see if this one is indicative, or merely an outlier, before we get all excited about the prospects of a hung parliament.
Both pictures of Imogen were taken this weekend; the only major political event to temporally intercede was the Senate vote
on that silly anti-democratic procedure called cloture allowing debate on health care reform.
With my careful guidance and tutelage, I’m sure she will correctly decide between progressive politics and supporting the BNP by the time she is 18.
It’s either that, or she simply thought I was a Nazi for telling her to eat her veg . . .