California recall live; Canadian and German elections minus six to 11 days

Democrat Newsom set to defeat Recall – live commentary today. Conservatives fall back in Canada, and polls stable in Germany. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Live commentary

12pm Thursday: With all election day votes counted, No to Recall leads by 63.9-36.1. Late mail and provisional votes will be counted over the next four weeks. When everything is counted, Newsom is likely to exceed his 61.9-38.1 margin in 2018, but fall a little short of Biden’s 29-point California margin in 2020.

4pm As the election day vote comes in, Newsom’s lead is dropping slightly. But No to Recall still leads by 65.7-34.3 with an estimated 66% in. Remember that counting will continue for about four weeks after today.

1:50pm CNN finally CALLS it for No to Recall. In 2018, Newsom won the governor’s race against a Republican by 62-38. Can he exceed that margin? Polls did not have him far enough ahead.

1:42pm No to Recall leading by a massive 67.5-32.5 with nearly 8 million votes in. Margin likely to decrease a bit as election day votes come in, but 17% of election day votes are already in.

1:25pm Dave Wasserman has CALLED it for Newsom and is off to bed (it’s 11:25pm on the US East Coast).

1:17pm No winning by almost 70-30 after over 5 million counted.

1:13pm No to Recall winning by 64-36 with over 2.2 million votes in already.

1:07pm No immediate call, but the exit poll has a wide margin for No. The first results from San Diego have No leading by 60.6-39.4 from over 800,000 votes.

12:52pm Wednesday Polls close in eight minutes. There is an exit poll. If that exit poll shows No to Recall winning by about the same0 margin as in pre-election polls, the recall is likely to be called as soon as polls close.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The final FiveThirtyEight aggregate for today’s California recall election shows Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom leading Recall by 15.8%, out from 10.1% last week and just 1.2% three weeks ago.

Newsom has been able to make this election a contest between him, and the likely winner of the replacement vote, radio shock jock Republican Larry Elder. With no prominent Democrats contesting the replacement vote, Newsom’s lead over Recall has rapidly increased in a Democratic stronghold.

Early mail votes will be released soon after polls close at 1pm AEST. Given the polling, it is likely that the election will be called for Newsom once we see these votes. Election day vote counting will go until the evening AEST. California keeps counting late mail and provisional votes for four weeks after election day.

The FiveThirtyEight aggregate of Joe Biden’s ratings has him at 49.2% disapprove, 45.9% approve (net -3.3); his net approval is up half a point since last week. Biden last week announced vaccine mandates to combat COVID. In a Morning Consult poll, voters supported requiring all employers with over 100 employees to mandate vaccination or weekly tests by a 58-36 margin.

People’s Party rise hurts Conservatives in Canada

The Canadian election is next Tuesday September 21 AEST. Canada uses first past the post to elect its 338 members of parliament.

In the CBC Poll Tracker, the Liberals have regained the lead with 31.9%, followed by the Conservatives on 31.3%, the NDP 19.4%, the Quebec Bloc 6.6%, the populist right People’s Party (PPC) 6.4%, and the Greens 3.3%. Last week, the Conservatives had 33.5% and the PPC 4.8%.

Under FPTP, small parties on the left and right spoil their better aligned major party’s chances. The Tracker has the Liberals seat lead over the Conservatives out to 151-122 from 140-133 last week, with 35 NDP and 29 Bloc.

Most of Canada uses staggered poll opening and closing times, in which polls in the trailing time zone open and close an hour earlier than those in the leading time zone. The exceptions are polls for seats in Atlantic Canada. Here are the Canadian poll closing times next Tuesday AEST:

By 9:30am, polls in the four small provinces of Atlantic Canada (32 of the 338 seats) are closed. Newfoundland (seven seats) closes 30 minutes earlier. At 11:30am, the large majority of polls close. At 12pm, all polls are closed in Canada, with British Columbia (42 seats) closing.

Polls relatively stable in Germany

The Politico poll aggregate for the September 26 German election has the centre-left SPD leading with 25%, followed by the conservative CDU/CSU on 21%, the Greens 16%, the pro-business FDP 12%, the far-right AfD 11% and the far-left Left 6%. The overall vote for left parties leads the overall right by 47-44 (48-44 last week).

I described the German electoral system in my previous article. Parties that either win at least 5% of the party vote or three of the 299 FPTP seats receive a proportional allocation of seats. The Left party is close to the 5% threshold in current polls, but won five FPTP seats in 2017. If they hold three of these seats, they will qualify for proportionality. It is unlikely that the SPD and the Greens will win enough seats on their own for a left majority, so this is crucial.

Conservative government ousted in Norway

At Monday’s Norwegian election, Labour won 48 of the 169 seats (down one since 2017), the Conservatives 36 (down nine), the agrarian Centre 28 (up nine), the right-wing Progress 21 (down six), the Socialist Left 13 (up two) and the Red eight (up seven). The Conservative PM conceded, and it is likely Labour will govern with support from the Centre and Socialists (89 seats for that combination exceeding the 85 needed for a majority).

California recall, Canadian and German elections minus one to three weeks

Democrat Gavin Newsom now likely to beat recall in California, Liberals slump in Canada after Trudeau’s early election call and Social Democrats surge to the top in Germany.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls close in the California recall election next Wednesday September 15 at 1pm AEST. There is a Yes/No question on whether the governor is recalled, followed by a long list of replacement candidates. If the recall succeeds, the candidate with the most votes is elected.

In my last article two weeks ago, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom led Recall by just 1.2% in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, but he has surged since then, and now leads by 10.1%. California is a Democratic stronghold that voted for Joe Biden by 29% in November 2020. Motivating Democrats is likely to be enough for Newsom.

To qualify for a Recall election, 12% of the total votes cast for governor at the last election must sign a petition. Only one governor has been recalled since recalls were introduced in 1911: in 2003, Democrat Gray Davis was replaced by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Davis lost the Recall vote by 55.4-44.6, and Schwarzenegger had 48.6% of the replacement vote, well ahead of 31.5% for a Democrat.

Since the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden’s ratings have continued to slide in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate. He’s now at 49.0% disapprove, 45.3% approve for a net approval of -3.7%. Biden’s net approval was +6 before the fall of Kabul on August 15.

There are other factors dragging Biden down, like COVID, inflation and illegal immigration. But the clear downward trend since Kabul’s fall indicates Afghanistan is a big factor. US COVID is likely to improve soon, but Biden’s perceived incompetence over Afghanistan could reflect badly on him when Americans consider other problems.

Trudeau’s Liberals slump in Canada

Justin Trudeau called the Canadian election for September 20, two years early. Canada uses First Past the Post to elect its 338 parliamentary members.

The CBC Poll Tracker has the Conservatives leading with 33.5%, followed by Trudeau’s centre-left Liberals on 31.2%, the left-wing NDP 20.3%, the left-wing separatist Quebec Bloc 5.9%, the right-wing populist People’s Party 4.8% and the Greens 3.4%. The Liberals were eight points ahead before the election was called, and their position deteriorated rapidly in the first two weeks of the campaign, but it has stabilized in the last week.

Despite the Conservatives’ narrow vote lead, the Liberals still have a narrow seat lead of 140-133, with 37 NDP and 27 Bloc, owing to Conservative wastage in safe seats. The tracker gives the Conservatives just a 4% chance of winning an outright majority.

In a recent Angus Reid poll, NDP leader Singh had a +14 net favourable rating, the Bloc’s Blanchet -1, the Conservatives’ O’Toole -17 and Trudeau -25. In Abacus, it was Singh +19, Blanchet +10, Trudeau -5 and O’Toole -8.

Social Democrats (SPD) surge in Germany

The German election is on September 26. Germany has 299 single-member seats elected by FPTP, and at least 299 list seats that are used to top-up FPTP seats to ensure overall proportionality of all qualifying parties. Voters cast one vote for their FPTP seat, and another for their preferred party. Parties can qualify by either exceeding 5% of the national “party” vote, or winning three FPTP seats.

List seats are awarded by states, and this results in frequent “overhangs” when a party wins more seats by FPTP than entitled from its party vote, which are compensated by “leveling” seats for other parties. There are usually more than the minimum 598 seats in German parliaments, with the 2017 election having 709 seats owing to the conservative CDU/CSU’s dominance of FPTP seats on a 32.9% vote share.

In the Politico poll aggregate, the SPD now leads with 25%, with the CDU/CSU at 21%, the Greens 17%, the pro-business FDP 12%, the far-right AfD 11% and the far-left Left 6%. The SPD has surged to the top at the expense of the CDU/CSU, and the combined left now leads the combined right by 48-44 (47-45 to the right two weeks ago). The Left is close to the 5% threshold, but could survive even if they fall below as they won five FPTP seats in 2017 – three are needed.

Angela Merkel, who has been German chancellor since 2005, is retiring at this election. In a recent poll, just 20% were satisfied with the new CDU/CSU chancellor candidate, Armin Laschet, compared with between 57% and 71% for Merkel in the four elections she contested.

Canadian and German elections minus four to five weeks

Justin Trudeau calls an early Canadian election and German polls tighten. Also: Biden’s ratings slump after the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

On August 15, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau called the election for September 20, more than two years early. Trudeau’s centre-left Liberals won the most seats, but not a majority, at the 2019 election, and good polling encouraged Trudeau to seek a majority.

Canada has 338 seats elected by first past the post. At the October 2019 election, the Liberals won 157 seats, the Conservatives 121, the left-wing separatist Quebec Bloc 32, the left-wing NDP 24 and the Greens three. Vote shares were 34.3% Conservative, 33.1% Liberal, 16.0% NDP, 7.6% Bloc and 6.6% Greens. The Conservatives wasted votes in safe seats, while the Bloc benefited from only running in Quebec.

The CBC Poll Tracker currently gives the Liberals 34.0%, the Conservatives 30.3%, the NDP 19.8%, the Bloc 6.3% and the Greens 4.6%. Seat estimates are 160 Liberals (ten short of a majority), 111 Conservatives, 38 NDP and 28 Bloc. The Liberal lead over the Conservatives has dropped from eight points to four in the week since the election was called.

At the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to change the electoral system from FPTP, but welched on that promise after winning a majority. There was a bad sign for the Liberals when the Conservatives won the Nova Scotia provincial election last Tuesday. The Liberals were well ahead, but faded late.

Social Democrats gain at CDU/CSU’s expense for German election

The German election will be on September 26. Parties need to clear 5% to qualify for the proportional allocation of seats. The Politico poll aggregate currently gives the conservative CDU/CSU 24%, the centre-left SPD 20%, the Greens 18%, the pro-business FDP 12%, the far-right AfD 11% and the far-left Left 7%. In the last few month, the SPD has gained 4-5 points from the CDU/CSU, and the combined right’s lead over the combined left has narrowed to 47-45 from 51-42.

German polls do not appear to ask for leader approval ratings, only for preferred chancellor. The SPD’s Scholz is leading both the Greens’ Baerbock and the CDU/CSU’s Laschet by double digit margins, probably explaining the shift in voting intention polls. Angela Merkel, who has been chancellor since 2005, is retiring at this election.

Biden’s ratings slump after Afghanistan withdrawal

A week since the fall of Kabul, Joe Biden’s ratings with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are 49.4% approve, 46.2% disapprove (net +3.2%). Biden’s net approval was +10 in late July and +6 before Kabul. Recent polls have been near net zero, so the aggregate may fall further.

Biden’s drop can also be attributed to US COVID, inflation and illegal immigration. But Afghanistan has been damaging. In a CBS/YouGov poll, 74% thought the removal of US troops had gone badly, although 63% still approved of their removal. Biden’s handling of withdrawal crashed from 60-40 approve in July to 53-47 disapprove.

The Afghanistan withdrawal has been compared to the 1975 US withdrawal from Saigon at Vietnam. New York Times analyst Nate Cohn said former president Gerald Ford’s ratings increased in the months after Saigon.

In Vietnam, over 58,000 US soldiers were killed in action, while 2,500 were killed in Afghanistan. There had been no US combat deaths since February 2020. The far greater US casualties in Vietnam meant the public was far more likely to be willing to accept the costs of sudden withdrawal.

Another problem for Biden with Afghanistan is that the chaos and perceived humiliation for the US erodes the public’s faith in his competence. As an anti-establishment candidate, Donald Trump’s supporters did not care about the scorn of the establishment, but Biden’s competence was a big selling point at the election.

Californian Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom faces a recall election on September 14. Voters will be asked whether they want to keep or recall Newsom, and who to replace him with. If Newsom loses the recall vote, the replacement candidate is elected by FPTP.

With no primary to select one Democratic and Republican candidate, there are many from both parties, so the winner could have a low vote share. The FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate has Newsom beating Recall by 1.2%. If Newsom loses, Republican Elder, with 19%, has a ten-point lead over his nearest rival.

England COVID “Freedom Day” plus two weeks

A drop for the Conservatives in the polls as UK COVID cases fall. Also: German polls ahead of the September 26 election, and Biden’s ratings and US COVID.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Boris Johnson declared July 19 would be COVID “Freedom Day” in England, the day when virtually all remaining- COVID restrictions were relaxed. Freedom Day only applied to England, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland retaining some restrictions.

Over 88% of UK adults have received a first dose of COVID vaccination, and over 72% have received both doses (fully vaccinated). About 95% of English aged over 55 are fully vaccinated. The vaccination coverage for the elderly, who are most vulnerable to COVID, explains Johnson’s Freedom Day.

The government could have given younger people more opportunity to be vaccinated, but they wanted to have Freedom Day during summer, when there are fewer complications from cold weather.

After peaking at over 54,000 daily cases on July 17, two days before Freedom Day, UK daily cases declined to 23,500 last Tuesday. On Thursday, cases rose to over 31,000, but have fallen every day since to below 22,000 Monday. The government and many epidemiologists had predicted daily cases would rise to over 100,000 after Freedom Day.

While cases had nearly increased to their January peaks on July 17, the rolling seven-day COVID death average has only increased to 75. That’s a massive reduction from the horrific January peak when the seven-day average was over 1,200 deaths. The UK’s vaccination program has clearly worked in reducing the severity of COVID for elderly people.

In national polls conducted the week after Freedom Day, the Conservative lead over Labour fell from the high single to low double digits to only two to five points, likely owing to public disapproval of the perceived recklessness of Freedom Day. But with daily COVID cases roughly halving instead of doubling, it is likely that the Conservatives will soon regain a large lead.

German election: September 26

The German federal election will be held on September 26. The conservative CDU/CSU has governed since 2005, with assistance from the centre-left SPD in three of those four terms. Parties require at least 5% to qualify for the proportional allocation of seats.

A few months ago, the Greens were doing much better, and the combined vote for the left parties (SPD, Greens and far-left Left) was just ahead of the combined right vote (CDU/CSU, far-right AfD and pro-business FDP). But the CDU/CSU has since regained ground at the Greens’ expense, and the right is now ahead by about a 50-43 margin. The Left party is at 6-7%, close to the threshold.

While no other party will work with the AfD, any government would need to include a right-wing party on current polls. I believe Germans were dissatisfied with their vaccination rollout, but are now better disposed, as over 51% of Germany’s population is fully vaccinated; the denominator includes children. The recovery of the CDU/CSU has implications for the Australian Coalition’s recovery once vaccinations are at a high level.

Biden’s ratings steady as US suffers “pandemic of the unvaccinated”

Over six months into Joe Biden’s presidency, the FiveThirtyEight aggregate gives him 51.5% approval and 43.4% disapproval (net +8.1%). With registered or likely voters, Biden’s ratings are 51.0% approval, 44.5% disapproval (net +6.5%). Biden’s ratings have been steady, but there has been a little recent decline. On net approval, Biden is ahead of Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford at this point in their presidencies.

NBC News has two maps, one showing where US COVID cases are rising fastest, and one showing the unvaccinated percentage in each state. There is correlation between these two series, but there have been large rises in Florida and California, which are both close to the fully vaccinated share of the national population (49.2%). Most states with current large outbreaks voted for Trump in 2020, but California is the exception. According to a US ABC hospital survey, 94% of COVID ICU patients were unvaccinated.

An economic danger for Biden is inflation. The US Consumer Price Index has increased 2.9% in the four months to June, for a total increase of 5.4% since June 2020. High inflation undermines wage growth. Most analysts believe current inflation is transitory, and will ease as supply chains are ramped up.

UK Batley and Spen by-election minus one day

Conservatives likely to gain a second seat at a by-election. Also covered: French regional elections and a massive stuff-up on preferential voting in New York City.

Updates

5:30pm If the expected loss had occurred, many in Labour would have been calling for Keir Starmer’s head. So Starmer and his allies will be jubilant at this result.

4:58pm Labour HOLD Batley and Spen. Vote shares were 35.3% Labour (down 7.4%), 34.4% Tory (down 1.6%) and 21.9% for the Workers’ Party’s Galloway. This result is very contrary to expectations of a Tory gain. While Galloway was expected to help the Tories by taking away from Labour, some people who may have voted Tory probably voted Galloway as he was another anti-establishment candidate. Also, the Tory lead in national polls has fallen from low double digits to high single digits. Maybe this reflects the vaccination surge for the Tories finally wearing off, plus the Matt Hancock scandal.

11:55am I need to leave soon, so I won’t be able to post the result until I get back later this afternoon. But local council by-election results look dire for Labour – you can read about them on the Britain Elects Twitter account.

11:50am Friday George Galloway stood in Batley and Spen for the Workers’ Party on a platform to the left of Labour. A tweet from a Daily Mirror correspondent says his party expects Galloway to come second, driving Labour into third.

9:15am Even though preferences were entirely optional at this NYC election, just 29.3% of all votes cast for candidates other than Adams and Garcia exhausted. That’s far less than in NSW for eg the Upper Hunter by-election, when over 60% of all minor candidates’ preferences exhausted.

9am Thursday Garcia trails Adams by almost 15,000 votes (51.1-48.9) in the corrected NYC preferential vote with over 125,000 postals still to be added that are expected to favour Garcia. Garcia edged out Wiley by just 0.1% at the second last count.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Polls for the UK Labour-held Batley and Spen by-election close at 7am AEST Friday. This seat voted 60% Leave at the Brexit referendum. The 2019 results were 42.7% Labour (down 12.7% since 2017), 36.0% Conservative (down 2.8%), 12.2% for an independent, 4.7% Lib Dem (up 2.4%) and 3.2% Brexit party. A Survation poll two weeks ago gave the Conservatives a 47-41 lead over Labour.

If the Conservatives win Batley and Spen, it would be their second gain at a by-election this term, following their early May triumph in Hartlepool. Except for 1961, when the Conservatives gained after the winning Labour candidate was disqualified, this would be the first time since 1929 that an incumbent government gained two seats at by-elections.

I believe Labour is in trouble in its seats that voted for Brexit because of education polarisation. I wrote in May for The Conversation that whites without a university education are deserting left-leaning parties in Australia, the US and the UK.

While the Conservatives have been winning in Brexit voting Labour seats, they were rebuffed at the Chesham and Amersham by-election last fortnight. The Lib Dems won 56.7% (up a massive 30.4%), the Conservatives 35.5% (down 19.9%), the Greens 3.9% (down 1.6%) and Labour a pathetic 1.6% (down 11.2%). This seat was 55% Remain.

This by-election was the 15th largest “two party” swing in UK by-elections. The Lib Dems and their Liberal predecessors have benefited in seven of the larger swings, with some others having MPs who switched parties before resigning and recontesting. However, Labour’s vote share appears to be their lowest at a by-election they contested.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock resigned on Saturday after pictures of him kissing his female aide were published by The Sun on Friday. Hancock’s major problem was not infidelity to his wife, but that he had advocated social distancing during COVID, but was not distancing from his aide. A national poll taken on Monday gave the Conservatives a seven point lead, down from 11 the previous week.

French regional elections and polling for 2022 presidential election

French regional elections were held in two rounds on June 20 and 27. The Guardian reported that results were disappointing for both Marine le Pen’s far-right National Rally, and incumbent president Emmanuel Macron’s centrist La République en Marche. Neither party won any regions, as the centre-left Socialists and centre-right Républicains dominated. Turnout was low, with 66% of registered voters abstaining.

The first round of the French presidential election will be held in April 2022. If no candidate wins at least 50%, a runoff between the top two is held a fortnight after the first round.

For the first round, le Pen is just ahead of Macron, by about 27% to 26%, with both well ahead of other candidates who are under 18%. In the second round, Macron is leading le Pen by about 53.5-46.5. That’s well down from Macron’s crushing 66.1-33.9 margin in 2017, though polls understated Macron’s vote then.

Preferential voting comes to New York City!

The Democratic mayoral primary for NYC occurred on June 22 using preferential voting for the first time. As NYC is heavily Democratic, the Democratic nominee is almost certain to win the November general election.

Black former policeman Eric Adams led on first preferences with 31.7%, followed by left-wing activist Maya Wiley with 22.3%, former NYC sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia with 19.5% and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang with 11.7%.

These primary votes reflected the election night count. Over 140,000 votes were added and preferences were distributed on Tuesday (US time), and Garcia was just ahead of Wiley at the penultimate count, before losing to Adams by 51.1-48.9. The nearly 16,000 Adams margin excluded over 124,000 postal votes that are expected to favour Garcia.

But late on Tuesday, the NYC Board of Elections yanked these results. Analyst Dave Wasserman said something was wrong with the 140,000 additional votes, which had low vote shares for the four major candidates – they’re mostly test votes that hadn’t been removed. Maybe we’ll get clearer results Thursday AEST, but currently this NYC election is a massive stuff-up. This will provide ammunition for Trump’s baseless fraud claims.

I will update this article in the next two days to follow developments in NYC and Batley and Spen.

Netanyahu ousted in Israeli Knesset confidence vote

Also covered: US and UK by-elections, a German state election and federal polls, and the far-left narrowly wins in Peru.

11:24am Saturday A grim Survation poll for Labour in Batley and Spen, with the Tories leading Labour by 47-41.

11:06am Friday The Lib Dems have GAINED the UK Chesham and Amersham by-election from the Conservatives. The Lib Dems won 56.7% (up 30.4%), the Conservatives 35.5% (down 19.9%) and Labour a pathetic 1.6% (down 11.2%).

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

At the March Israeli election, right-wing PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc of parties won 59 of the 120 Knesset seats, two short of the 61 for a majority. Netanyahu was given the first attempt to form a government, but was unsuccessful.

On June 2, just before the deadline expired, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid announced he had formed a government that excluded Netanyahu. Under the agreement, Naftali Bennett, leader of the far-right Yamina, would be PM for two years, with Lapid taking over for the remainder of the four-year term. The coalition has parties from across the political spectrum, including a small Arab party for the first time in an Israeli government.

On Sunday, the Israeli Knesset held a confidence vote in the new government, and it won this vote by 60-59, with one Arab member abstaining. Bennett became PM, ending Netanyahu’s 12 successive years as Israel’s PM. Yamina won just seven seats at the election, while Yesh Atid won 17.

The key question is how long the present government will last. The parties that formed it are united only by their detestation of Netanyahu. As the government is headed by a far-right PM, it’s unlikely to be good for Palestinian rights.

US Democrats perform strongly in New Mexico by-election             

At a by-election for New Mexico’s first Congressional District on June 1, the Democrat defeated the Republican by a 60.3-35.7% margin. The almost 25-point Democratic victory is two points better for Democrats than Joe Biden’s margin over Donald Trump in the same district in 2020, and eight points better than the Democratic incumbent in 2020. This was much better for Democrats than the dreadful result in a Texas federal by-election on May 1.

In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, Biden’s current ratings are 53.2% approve, 40.7% disapprove (net +12.5%). With polls of likely or registered voters, his ratings are 53.6% approve, 41.3% disapprove (net +12.3%).

Biden’s initial ratings had high disapprovals by the standards of past presidents, and he was ahead of only Trump on net approval. But his approval has since been very steady, and he has overtaken Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford at the same point of their presidencies.

Good result for CDU at German state election

At the June 6 Saxony-Anhalt state election, the conservative CDU won 37.1% (up 7.4% since 2016), the far-right AfD 20.6% (down 3.4%), the Left 11.0% (down 5.3%), the centre-left SPD 8.4% (down 2.2%), the pro-business FDP 6.4% (up 1.6%) and the Greens 5.9% (up 0.8%). The CDU won 40 of the 97 seats, the AfD 23, the Left 12, SPD nine, FDP seven and Greens six. 5% is needed for the proportional allocation of seats, so the FDP missed out last time.

In German federal polls ahead of the September 26 election, the CDU/CSU has advanced at the expense of the Greens since my last update in early May, with the FDP also up, while the Left is close to the 5% threshold. Right-wing parties now have about 50% combined, to about 43% for the combined left. Another poor election for the left in a major European country is likely.

Upcoming UK by-elections

On Thursday, a by-election will occur in the Conservative-held Chesham and Amersham. While this seat has been Conservative-held since its creation in 1974, it voted 55% Remain at the Brexit referendum. To compensate for the loss of its Leave-voting seats, Labour needs to gain seats like C&A. Although Labour finished second in 2017, the 2019 results were 55.4% Conservative (down 5.3%), 26.3% Lib Dem (up 13.3%), 12.9% Labour (down 7.7%) and 5.5% Greens (up 2.5%).

There will be a July 1 by-election in Labour-held Batley and Spen, which voted 60% Leave at the Brexit referendum. The 2019 results were 42.7% Labour (down 12.7%), 36.0% Conservative (down 2.8%), 12.2% for an independent, 4.7% Lib Dem (up 2.4%) and 3.2% Brexit party.

Far-left defeats far-right in Peru

In the June 6 Peru presidential runoff, the far-left’s Pedro Castillo defeated the far-right’s Keiko Fujimori by just a 50.13-49.87 margin. Fujimori is the daughter of the former dictator, and has narrowly lost three runoffs. In the first round, Castillo won 18.9% and Fujimori 13.4% with the rest being too split to qualify for the runoff.

Georgia Senate runoffs live

Live commentary on today’s Georgia Senate runoffs. This post will also follow tomorrow’s certification of the Electoral College. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

8:18pm At about 3:40am Washington time, the Electoral College vote was finally certified. As expected, Biden won by 306 votes to 232.

8:15pm The last post was about the objection to Arizona. For Pennsylvania, 138 Republicans objected to democracy, with just 64 opposed. That’s 68% of House Republicans who objected to democracy. In the Senate, only seven of the 51 current Republicans objected.

4:20pm In the House, 121 Republicans voted to object, with 83 opposed, so 59% of all House Republicans that cast a vote objected to democracy, with Democrats unanimously opposed. The roll call shows that House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy voted to object.

2:15pm Despite the riots, six anti-democratic Republican senators have objected to the certification of the Electoral College. Their names are: Cruz, Hyde-Smith, Kennedy, Hawley, Marshall and Tuberville. Tuberville defeated Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama in November.

12:15pm In a YouGov snap poll on today’s riots at the Capitol, by 62-32 voters saw them as a threat to democracy, but Republicans disagreed by 68-27. Overall, voters thought Trump should be immediately removed from office by 50-42, but Republicans disagreed by 85-10.

12:07pm Ossoff’s lead now up to 0.8% or over 25,000 votes, with more Dem friendly votes left to count.

9:15am Not the most important news today, but US media have CALLED the Georgia regular Senate election for Jon Ossoff, who currently leads Perdue by 0.6% or over 27,000 votes. The Senate will be tied at 50-50, with Democrats making three net gains this election cycle. Kamala Harris will have the casting vote to give Democrats control of the Senate.

7:33am Since the November election, Trump and his henchmen have ranted about how the election was stolen. The violent protests in the US Capitol today are a direct result of these completely unfounded election fraud claims.

7:22am Trump supporters have stormed the US Capitol as Congress was supposed to meet to certify the Electoral College vote. Mike Pence will not attempt to overturn the results, and Mitch McConnell has condemned those who would object.

7:15am Thursday The vast majority of outstanding votes are in Democratic counties, so both Ossoff and Warnock will extend their leads.

9:11pm Ossoff now leads by 0.4% with 98% in. The projection is still for an Ossoff win by 1.1%.

6:24pm Some more of DeKalb is in, putting Warnock up by 1.0% and Ossoff retakes the lead from Perdue by 0.2% or 9.5k votes. The networks and the AP have CALLED for Warnock.

5:37pm Apparently there’s a technical glitch in DeKalb county that is delaying the count of votes that should put Ossoff over the top.

5:30pm A small turnout differential in Democrats’ favour was partly responsible for the result. Also, in November Perdue won by 1.8% while Biden defeated Trump by 0.3% in Georgia. There were a small number of Biden/Perdue voters who this time likely voted Dem.

5:26pm Compared with November, turnout was slightly higher in Biden and Black precincts than in Trump and rural precincts, but not much higher. Overall turnout will be about 90% of November levels.

4:40pm There are still votes remaining in DeKalb, which is only at 91% reported. When those votes report, Ossoff should take and keep the lead.

3:56pm Wasserman CALLS the regular Senate election for Ossoff. That gives Democrats two Senate gains from Georgia, and the Senate is tied 50-50. Kamala Harris will break the tie for the Dems.

3:40pm Perdue and Ossoff almost tied now, with Perdue ahead by a few hundred votes.

3:36pm Perdue’s lead down to just 0.08%.

3:30pm Perdue leads by 0.2% with 95% in, but there’s still more metro Atlanta left, while Rep counties are used up.

3:19pm A big Dem dump reported, and now it’s Warnock by 0.8% and Perdue by just 0.07% with 95% in.

3:10pm Despite a current Perdue lead of 3% with 91% in, the Needle has Ossoff winning by 1.0% with a 92% win probability.

2:56pm With 90% in, Perdue’s margin drops back to 2.6%, and the Needle has Ossoff winning by 1.0% with an 88% win probability.

2:47pm The Needle goes to at most 95% win probability, and Warnock is at that point. After that, it waits for official calls.

2:42pm While Perdue currently leads Ossoff by 3.0% with 87% reporting, the Needle thinks Ossoff will win by 1.0% and gives him an 81% chance to win. There are many more heavily Dem favouring votes yet to report.

2:17pm Ossoff’s win probability up to 76%, while Warnock is at 90%.

2:07pm The Needle has Ossoff’s win probability up to 73%, while Warnock is at 87%. If Ossoff wins, Republicans will be cursing the Libertarian who got 2.3% in November, denying Perdue an outright win.

1:55pm There’s still lots more votes left in Atlanta, which is why the Needle has projected final margins of Ossoff by 1.0% and Warnock by 1.7%, even though both Republicans are currently ahead in the raw vote count. Ossoff’s win probability up to 70%.

1:44pm Wasserman CALLS the Senate by-election for Warnock (D).

1:40pm With 78% in, it’s Loeffler by 0.6% and Perdue by 1.3%. But the projected margins are Warnock by 1.7% and Ossoff by 1.0%.

1:28pm With 69% counted, both Republicans have taken the lead, Perdue by 1.1% and Loeffler by 0.35%. However, there’s lots more votes left in the Dem-heavy Atlanta area, and the projected margins are Warnock by 1.6% and Ossoff by 0.9%.

1:09pm Just had lunch, and there’s been a big narrowing in the Dem leads. With 63% in, it’s Warnock by 0.6% and Ossoff by just 0.04%. However, the Needle is more confident in both Dems, with Warnock projected to win by 1.4% (68% chance) and Ossoff by 0.7% (60% chance).

12:42pm With 49% in, it’s Warnock by 8 and Ossoff by 7. The Needle has Warnock by 1.2% and Ossoff by 0.7%, with both Dems at around 60% win probability. There’s still a lot of election day vote to come.

12:25pm With 42% reporting, Warnock leads by 11 and Ossoff by 10. The Needle has both races tilting Dem, with Warnock up 1.2% and Ossoff up 0.8%.

12:22pm Wasserman has a good result for both Democrats from Washington county.

12:17pm Wasserman says that many very rural, very Republican counties are below 90% of November turnout. We already know that DeKalb will be over 90% of November levels.

12:11pm With 29% in, it’s Warnock by 4 and Ossoff by 3. Warnock has a 60% chance to win, Ossoff 57%.

11:56am Both Democrats up by 12 with 18% in, and both leading on the Needle by 0.5-1.0%. Both races now classes as Tilting Democrat, from Flip a Coin.

11:52am Dave Wasserman tweets that Republicans trail Trump’s numbers by a point or two in Lanier county with only 86% of November turnout.

11:45am Ossoff now up by more than Warnock (6 vs 3) with 11% in. The Needle has both Dems ahead by under 1%.

11:37am With 9% reporting, it’s Warnock by 14 and Ossoff by 12. The Needle still has both Democrats barely ahead.

11:27am Democratic counties are reporting far earlier than in November. It’s currently Warnock by 30 and Ossoff by 27, but the Needle has both Democrats barely ahead.

11am New York Times results available here, with a Needle for both races.

10:30am Looks like good turnout news for Democrats: DeKalb county (83% Biden) is at 90% of November turnout levels with an hour until polls close.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

After the November election, Republicans had a 50-48 lead over Democrats in the Senate. The final two seats, both in Georgia, went to runoffs that will be decided today. If Democrats win both of these contests, they will tie Republicans at 50-50 in the Senate, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast the tie breaking vote.

The FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate has both Democrats moving into slight leads, with Jon Ossoff (D) leading David Perdue (R) by 1.8% and Raphael Warnock (D) leading Kelly Loeffler (R) by 2.1%. Ossoff has gained 0.9% and Warnock 0.3% since Saturday’s article.

Polls in Georgia close at 11am AEDT. In November, the counting was slow in Georgia, with initial results strong for Republicans owing to a rural bias. The suburbs around Atlanta did not start reporting until late on election night.

Concerning tomorrow’s Congressional certification of the Electoral College, all I have to add to Saturday’s article is that at least 12 Republican senators will join Josh Hawley in objecting to the results.

On Sunday, Democrat Nancy Pelosi was re-elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives, winning 216 votes to 209 for Republican Kevin McCarthy. There were two votes for other candidates. Pelosi needed a majority of all candidate votes. As there were 427 such votes, she needed 214, so exceeded the required majority by two.

Georgia Senate runoffs minus four days

A preview of Wednesday’s (AEDT) Georgia Senate runoffs that could give Democrats Senate control. Also: anti-democratic nuttiness from Trump and Republicans.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

After the November election, Republicans had a 50-48 lead over Democrats in the Senate. The final two seats, both in Georgia, went to runoffs that will be decided on Wednesday AEDT. If Democrats win both of these contests, they will tie Republicans at 50-50 in the Senate, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would cast the tie breaking vote.

One of the Georgia Senate contests was a regular election, while the other was a by-election. In the November regular election, Republican David Perdue won 49.7% to Democrat Jon Ossoff’s 47.9%, with the 2.3% for a Libertarian denying Perdue the 50%+ he needed to win outright.

The November by-election was a “jungle” primary, in which candidates of the same or different parties compete against each other on the same ballot paper. Unless one candidate wins an outright majority, the top two, regardless of party, proceed to a runoff. Democrat Raphael Warnock won 32.9%, with Republican Kelly Loeffler getting the second runoff spot with 25.9%. Republican Doug Collins was third with 20.0%, with most of the remaining votes going to Democrats. Overall vote shares were 49.4% for all Republicans to 48.4% for all Democrats.

After being heavily criticised for understating Trump again, most pollsters are avoiding the Georgia runoffs. The FiveThirtyEight poll aggregate has both Democrats moving into slight leads, with Ossoff leading Perdue by 0.9% and Warnock leading Loeffler by 1.8%.

New York Times analyst Nate Cohn says that early voting has been better for Democrats than in November, partly due to a higher Black share of the electorate than previously. Of course Republicans could have a big election day, but this data is positive for Democrats.

Polls in Georgia close at 11am AEDT Wednesday. In November, the counting was slow in Georgia, with initial results strong for Republicans owing to a rural bias. The suburbs around Atlanta did not start reporting until late on election night.

Trump and Republicans’ anti-democratic nuttiness continues

The day after the Georgia runoffs, there will be a joint session of both chambers of Congress to certify the Electoral College results. In previous elections, this certification has been a formality, but that won’t be the case this time.

On December 14, Joe Biden officially won the Electoral College by 306 votes to 232, the same margin as expected; there were no faithless electors. All of Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud have been soundly rejected by the courts.

Despite this, Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley and Alabama Republican House member Mo Brooks say they will object to results in states Biden won narrowly. According to this Los Angeles Times article, if objections are filed by members of both chambers of Congress, the chambers must adjourn to separately debate and vote on the objections. Votes will be on the public record.

As Democrats hold the House majority and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell opposes the objections, there is no chance of voiding Biden’s Electoral Votes. But CNN correspondent Jake Tapper says that two Republican House members told him they expect at least 140 House Republicans to object (about two-thirds of the Republican House caucus).

There have also been calls for Vice President Mike Pence, who will retain that office until January 20, to unilaterally refuse to count Electoral Votes from states Biden won narrowly. The Trump-aligned pollster Rasmussen approvingly quoted the Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin in urging this course. However, Pence is seeking the dismissal of a case that was filed to expand his power.