Conservatives easily win June 7 Ontario election

Ontario is Canada’s most populous province.  The centre-left Liberals had governed for 15 years, but finished a distant third at the June 7 election, behind the Conservatives and the New Democratic Party (NDP) – Canada’s most left-wing major party.  The Conservative leader, Doug Ford, has been compared to Donald Trump.

The Conservatives won 76 of the 124 seats (up 44 since the 2014 election), the NDP 40  (up 17), the Liberals just seven (down 62) and the Greens one (up one).  Parliament was expanded from 107 to 124 seats, and I am using the notional seats held before the 2018 election for seat changes.

Vote shares were 40.5% Conservatives (up 9.3%), 33.6% NDP (up 9.8%), 19.6% Liberals (down 19.1%) and 4.6% Greens (down 0.2%).  Ontario uses First Past the Post.

CBC analyst Éric Grenier’s Poll Tracker gave the Conservatives 38.7%, the NDP 35.5%, the Liberals 19.6% and the Greens 4.9% in its final pre-election edition.  There was movement to the Conservatives in the final days, as the NDP slipped from a one-point lead to a three-point deficit.  Three of the four final polls gave the Conservatives four to six point leads.

The NDP had surged from third place at the end of April, when a Conservative landslide looked likely, to a peak position of a two-point lead at the end of May.  The drop over the final few days was probably because many voters were unfamiliar with the NDP’s agenda.  The greater focus on the NDP in the final days damaged their chances.

The Conservatives benefited greatly from the splitting of the left vote between the NDP, Liberals and Greens.  The three left parties combined won 57.8% of the vote, but just 38.7% of the seats.  During the 2015 Canadian federal election campaign, Justin Trudeau promised to reform Canada’s electoral system, but he abandoned that promise in early 2017.

With the Conservatives currently leading Trudeau’s Liberals in federal polling, it is possible they could repeat their success in Ontario, or indeed the 2011 federal election.  The next federal election is due by October 2019.

Spanish conservative government falls, Italian populist government formed

The December 2015 and June 2016 Spanish elections both produced inconclusive results.  Neither the right-wing parties (the Popular Party and the new Citizens’ party) nor the left-wing parties (the Socialists and the new Podemos) won enough lower house seats for a right or left majority.  In October 2016, incumbent Popular Party PM Mariano Rajoy won a confidence vote after the Socialists abstained.

On June 1, Rajoy lost a confidence vote by 180 votes to 169, following a corruption scandal that involved members of his party.   Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez became the new PM.

However, with only 84 of the 350 lower house seats, the Socialists will find it difficult to legislate.  Furthermore, the Popular Party controls the upper house, which is elected by First Past the Post, while the lower house uses rough proportional representation.

The next Spanish election is not due until 2020, but it could be held earlier.  The Citizens wanted a snap election, as they hold a lead in current polls.

 

In Italy, almost three months after the March 4 election, a coalition government was formed between two populist parties: the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League.  Combined, both parties have majorities in both chambers of the Italian Parliament.  Five Star has nearly twice as many seats in both chambers as the League, so they are the senior partner in the coalition.

There was a last-minute hitch when the Italian President refused the nomination of the Finance Minister, as the nominee was Eurosceptic.  However, the League and Five Star Movement selected a different nominee who was acceptable to the President.

Tasmanian EMRS poll: 47% Liberal, 30% Labor, 14% Greens

A Tasmanian EMRS poll, conducted May 7-10 from a sample of 1,000, gave the Liberals 47% of the vote, Labor 30% and the Greens 14%.  At the March state election, the Liberals won 50%, Labor 33% and the Greens 10%.  In the final pre-election EMRS poll, the Liberals had 46%, Labor 34% and the Greens 12%.

EMRS skews to the Greens, and its final poll was worse for the Liberals than the election results.  Given this, there is no evidence of a drop in Liberal support since the election.  Some Labor support appears to have gone to the Greens.

On the better Premier question, incumbent Will Hodgman led Opposition Leader 47-41 (48-41 in the final pre-election ERMS).

On May 15, preferences were distributed in the upper house seat of Prosser, which voted on May 5.   In a field of 13, Liberal Jane Howlett won 26.1%, Labor’s Janet Lambert 21.9% and independent Steve Mav 19.7%.  After preferences, Howlett defeated Lambert by 52.7-47.3, with Mav finishing third, well behind Lambert.

There are now four Labor and two Liberal members of the upper house, from a total of 15 – the rest are independents.  According to Tasmanian analyst Kevin Bonham, party representation in Tasmania’s upper house is at an all-time high.

The overall balance of power is unchanged with Labor and four left-wing independents holding eight of the 15 seats.  A left-wing independent was re-elected in Hobart, held on the same day as the Prosser election.

Every May, two or three of Tasmania’s 15 upper house seats are up for election for a six-year term.

Domestic economic data showing some weakness

The Australian economy is likely to be important to the outcome of the next federal election.    While employment growth was strong in all of 2017, it has stalled in early 2018.

Between September 2016 and January 2018, more jobs were added each month, with a total gain of over 520,000 jobs, averaging almost 33,000 jobs gained a month.  However, in March 2018 there were over 1,000 fewer jobs than in January, after a slip in February.

Quarterly retail sale volumes rose 0.2% in the March 2018 quarter, down from a 0.8% gain in the December 2017 quarter.

In March, the total value of dwelling commitments was down 4.4% from February at a level well below the previous months.  The number of owner occupied dwelling commitments continued to trend down.  This fall began before the Banking Royal Commission uncovered some unethical banking practices.

In the March quarter, wages growth continued to be low, at just a 0.5% increase in that quarter, and 2.1% for the year from March 2017 to March 2018.  Labor and the unions are campaigning strongly on wage growth, so this will be an important issue at the next election.

The Australian share market has surged owing mainly to higher commodity prices, and Australia had a trade surplus of over $1.1 billion in each of January, February and March.  However, the domestic economy does not appear to be doing well in early 2018.

All figures here are seasonally adjusted, and are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

 

 

Australia vs US unemployment rates: 5.5% in Australia, 3.9% in the US, but Australia’s situation is better than the US

In March, Australia’s unemployment rate was 5.5%, while the US unemployment rate was 3.9% in April.  It would appear that the US jobs situation is better than Australia’s.  However, this is not the case.

I am using the seasonally adjusted US and Australian data here, rather than trend or original data.  US data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Australian data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In the US, the participation rate (the proportion of all those eligible for work who are looking for a job or have a job) was just 62.8%.  The Australian participation rate was 65.5%.

The employment population ratio in the US (the proportion of those eligible to work who have a job) was 60.3%.  In Australia, it was 61.9%.

If the US participation rate was the same as Australia’s, the US unemployment rate would by about 7.9%, not 3.9%.

A low participation rate makes the bottom line unemployment rate look better than it otherwise would.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics carries out an establishment survey and a household survey every month.  The unemployment and participation rates are derived from the household survey, but the media’s reports of changes in employment are from the establishment survey, based on reports of employers.

In April, the establishment survey showed 164,000 jobs were created, but the household survey suggested a net gain of just 3,000 jobs.  The drop in unemployment from 4.1% to 3.9% was entirely based on people leaving the workforce – the participation rate and employment population ratio both dropped 0.1% in April.

 

ReachTEL poll 52-48 to Labor as party faces Perth byelection, and strong swings to US Democrats

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

A ReachTEL poll for Sky News, presumably conducted Monday or Tuesday from a sample of over 2,000, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a two-point gain for the Coalition since a late March ReachTEL. Primary votes were 36% Coalition (up two), 35% Labor (down one), 10% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (down one).

The 13% who did not express a preference for the four stated parties almost certainly include undecided as well as Other voters. As usual, media sources have omitted these details.

ReachTEL uses respondent allocated preferences. According to analyst Kevin Bonham, this poll would be about 52.7% to Labor by 2016 election preferences.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Labor’s Newspoll lead narrows federally and in Victoria


Malcolm Turnbull led Bill Shorten by 54.5-45.5 as better PM, a two-point gain for Turnbull since late March. 48% would prefer an earlier return to surplus, while 39% would like a tax cut in the budget. By 50-30, voters supported Labor’s policy for a 90-day limit on holding asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.

Last week’s Newspoll was 51-49 to Labor using Newspoll’s changed method (since the November 2017 Queensland election) of assigning about 60% of One Nation preferences to the Coalition, instead of the half that were assigned previously.

One Nation is a far-right party that attracts Tony Abbott supporters who believe Turnbull is too left-wing. Liberal leadership polls show the highest support for Abbott is with One Nation voters.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Newspoll not all bad news for Turnbull as Coalition’s position improves


Given the 65% preference flow from One Nation to the LNP at the Queensland election, the clear preference for Abbott over Turnbull with One Nation voters and respondent preferences being about one point better for the Coalition than 2016 preferences, Newspoll is justified in shifting its preference flow assumptions for One Nation.

Since late March, Ipsos, Newspoll and ReachTEL polls have shown a trend to the Coalition, with only Essential moving the other way. Left-wing partisans should stop complaining about Newspoll, and acknowledge that Labor’s lead is diminishing.

Labor’s Perth MP Tim Hammond resigns, causing byelection

On Wednesday, Tim Hammond resigned as the federal Labor Member for Perth. A byelection will be required to replace him.

At the 2016 election, Hammond won Perth by a 53.3-46.7 margin against the Liberals, a 1.2% swing to Labor. Primary votes were 42.3% Liberal, 37.4% Labor and 17.1% Greens. In Western Australia overall, there was a 3.6% two party swing to Labor in 2016.

The relatively small margin in Perth implies that the seat could be competitive if the Liberals field a candidate, particularly if the Liberal candidate is well-known and popular. Labor will not lose Hammond’s personal vote, as he was first elected in 2016; personal votes of sitting members usually take two elections to build.

According to The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack, there is currently an 8% two party swing to Labor in Western Australia since the 2016 election. If this is the case, Labor should easily hold Perth.

Defying her party, Liberal Sue Hickey wins Tasmanian Speakership

At the March 3 Tasmanian election, the Liberals won 13 of the 25 seats, Labor ten and the Greens two. On Tuesday (the first sitting day since the election), Rene Hidding, the endorsed Liberal candidate for Speaker of the lower house, was defeated by Sue Hickey, 13 votes to 12. Hickey’s votes came from Labor, the Greens and Hickey herself.

Hickey has said she will remain a Liberal, but will not attend party room meetings, and will vote independently, though she will “mostly” vote with the Liberals. The Liberals have not yet lost their majority, but if Hickey votes with Labor and the Greens on major legislation, they will lose it.

Hickey was the former Mayor of Hobart, and was the second of two Liberals elected from the Hobart-based seat of Denison, the most left-wing Tasmanian electorate.

According to Bonham, Hickey is the first Speaker in Tasmanian history to become Speaker immediately after being elected to Parliament.

Strong swings to US Democrats at byelections

At a byelection for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District (CD) held on March 13, the Democrat, Conor Lamb, defeated the Republican, Rick Saccone, by a 49.8-49.6 margin. Donald Trump had crushed Hillary Clinton in this district by almost 20 points at the 2016 Presidential election.

On April 24, Republicans held Arizona’s eighth CD by 52.4-47.6, but this was a 16-point difference from Trump’s 21-point margin in 2016. In December 2017, Democrats won the Alabama Senate byelection in a state Trump had won by 28 points.




Read more:
Democrat Doug Jones wins Alabama Senate byelection in stunning upset; Bennelong is tied 50-50


CNN analyst Harry Enten says the Democrats have performed an average 17 points better than expected given partisan lean at federal byelections in 2017-18.

According to Daily Kos Elections, in state and federal byelections held in 2018, Democrats have overperformed the 2016 Presidential margins by an average 15 points, and the 2012 Presidential margins by an average six points.

In the FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate, Trump has a 41.2% approve, 52.9% disapprove rating. Trump’s ratings have been very steady since early March, with a slight recent uptick, probably owing to the peace talks between North and South Korea. Trump’s approval is below all his predecessors since Harry Truman at this point in their presidencies.

Democrats hold a 46.8-39.0 lead over Republicans in the race for Congress. All 435 House seats are up for election on November 6. Owing to natural clustering of Democratic voters and Republican gerrymandering, Democrats probably need to win the House popular vote by about seven points to take control. The swing to the Democrats in national House polls is far lower than the swing in byelections.

The Conversation35 of the 100 Senate seats are also up for election on November 6, including two Senate byelections in Mississippi and Minnesota. 26 of these seats are currently held by Democrats and just nine by Republicans. Democrats will be defending five states that voted for Trump by at least 18 points. It will be very difficult for Democrats to win a Senate majority despite Republicans currently holding the Senate by just a 51-49 margin.

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.