Iowa Democratic caucuses: live commentary

Live commentary on the US Iowa Democratic caucuses. Also: Sinn Féin surges ahead of Saturday’s Irish election. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

9:27am Sunday The exit poll for Saturday’s Irish election has been released.  The governing Fine Gael has 22.4%, the far-left Sinn Fein 22.3% and Fianna Fail 22.2%, so there’s only 0.2% between the top three parties.  The Greens have 7.9%.  The full exit poll is in the comments.  No vote counting in Ireland until tonight AEDT.

5:15pm Friday With all precincts reporting, Buttigieg provisionally wins Iowa’s state delegate count by 0.1%.  However, the AP will not declare a winner owing to irregularities.  We will probably never know for sure who won Iowa’s state delegate count.

Sanders won both of the popular vote measures.  He won the “initial” vote by 3.5% and the “final” vote by 1.5%.

4:37pm This tweet explains why Sanders is doing so well with these satellite caucuses.

4:35pm Late counting Iowa drama!  I’m not sure what the “satellite caucuses” are, but there were four of them, one for each of Iowa’s Congressional Districts.  Three of them have reported, and they are all very strong for Sanders.  There’s still one to go.

With 97% in, Buttigieg now leads Sanders by just three state delegates or 0.15%.  Sanders leads by 3.5% on the “initial” popular vote, and by 1.5% on the “final” popular vote.

10:41am In the FiveThirtyEight post-Iowa model, Biden’s chance of winning a pledged delegate majority has plunged from 43% to 21%, with Sanders up to 37%.  The probability that nobody wins a pledged delegate majority (contested convention) is up to 27%.

10:20am Thursday More Iowa results!  With 86% in, Buttigieg leads Sanders by 26.7% to 25.4% on state delegates, the measure the US media is using to call a winner.  Warren has 18.3%, Biden 15.8% and Klobuchar 12.1%.

On two other measures, Sanders is still ahead.  He leads Buttigieg by 24.3% to 21.6% on “initial” popular votes.  He leads by 26.1% to 25.5% on “final” popular votes after realignment.

4:05pm 71% of precincts are now in for the Dem Iowa caucus.  The latest 9% haven’t made much difference to the figures.

2:50pm My Conversation article on these caucuses is up.  We need to see if there’s a significant impact on national polls from these results.  The next contest is New Hampshire on February 11; polls close by 12pm February 12 AEDT.

There was a big moment in Trump’s State of the Union address today.  At the end of the speech, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi literally tore it up.

10:30am New York Times analyst Nate Cohn says results reported so far are representative of the whole state.

10am Wednesday We FINALLY have more Iowa results.  With 62% of precincts reporting, Buttigieg leads Sanders by 27% to 25% on State Delegate Equivalents, the traditional measure that most of the media has focussed on.  Warren has 18%, Biden 16% and Klobuchar 13%.

On the two other measures, Sanders leads.  He leads on the “initial” popular votes by 24.5% to 21.4% for Buttigieg.  He leads on the “final” popular votes after realignment by 26% to 25%.

8:15pm More than EIGHT hours after the caucuses began, still only 2% has been reported!  I hope we have better results by tomorrow morning.

3:57pm In Ireland, a new poll has Sinn Fein in outright first on 25%, with Fianna Fail on 23%, Fine Gael 20% and the Greens 8%.

3:43pm Nate Silver

3:15pm Turnout at these caucuses in on pace for 2016.  In 2016, 172,000 participated in the Iowa Dem caucuses, well down from the record 240,000 in 2008.  In 2008, the Dems had a charismatic candidate in Barack Obama.

3:05pm With 1.9% in, Sanders is on top with 28% followed by Warren at 25%, Buttigieg 24%, Klobuchar 12% and Biden just 11%.

2:57pm On the Dem side, we’ve only got 32 of 1,765 precincts reporting their post-realignment votes.  Much slower than in 2016, when 85% had reported by this time.

2:55pm In 2016, 187,000 votes were cast in the Republican Iowa caucuses.   With 83% in, 29,000 votes have been cast in 2020.

2:35pm Still only 1.7% counted, with Buttigieg leading Sanders by 1.3% after realignment.  Biden down to 14%.  Hurry up!!

1:56pm In the Republican caucus, Trump has over 96% of the vote.  Republicans love Trump.

1:54pm By “after realignment”, I mean after the initial division.  Candidates polling below 15% in a particular precinct are declared unviable, and their supporters are asked to pick a viable candidate.  Candidates originally declared unviable can become viable if they pick up enough to make it over 15% in the second round.  It’s explained in this Conversation article.

1:50pm The AP has Buttigieg leading Sanders by 27% to 24% on final alignment numbers, followed by 19.5% for Biden, 15% Warren and 14% Klobuchar.  1.3% of precincts are in.

1:40pm The New York Times results page now gives Sanders 408 final votes (after realignment presumably), Buttigieg 380, Biden 310, Warren 277 and Klobuchar 176.

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 RealClearPolitics poll average for Iowa gave Bernie Sanders 24.2%, Joe Biden 20.2%, Pete Buttigieg 16.4%, Elizabeth Warren 15.6% and Amy Klobuchar 8.6%. As I noted in Friday’s Conversation article, polling for these caucuses has often been inaccurate. The caucuses begin at 12pm AEDT, and the process is described in that article. I will begin commenting on the results about 1:30pm after I return from bridge.

Elsewhere, the far-left Sinn Féin has surged in the Irish polls ahead of this Saturday’s election. Sinn Féin is equal first with Fianna Fáil in one recent poll, and two points behind in another. There is a chance that the two dominant Irish parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, will fail to win a combined majority of the seats. Both these parties are conservative. Other parties likely to win seats are left-wing, so a left majority is a possibility.

Polls in Ireland close at 10pm local time (9am Sunday AEDT). Exit polls will be released then, but no votes are counted until the next morning (Sunday evening AEDT). As Ireland uses Tasmania’s Hare-Clark system, it is likely to take at least a few days to finalise all counting.

And in Britain, Boris Johnson appears to want a hard Brexit on December 31, when the transition period ends.

All the fun of the fair

Leadership action for two parties at the second tier of federal politics, dates confirmed for Queensland and Northern Territory by-elections, and the Liberals choose a successor for Cory Bernardi’s Senate seat.

Party leadership developments:

• Barnaby Joyce has announced he will contest the Nationals leadership when the party room holds its first meeting on the resumption of parliament this morning, with a view to deposing Michael McCormack, who replaced Joyce him after his resignation in February 2018. This follows the opening of the deputy leadership position after Bridget McKenzie resigned from cabinet on Sunday over her handling of grants to sports clubs while serving as Sports Minister before the election. Joyce has two confirmed supporters out of a party room of 21, most notably Matt Canavan, who also quit cabinet yesterday (while also taking the opportunity to concede a loan under the North Australia Infrastructure Facility Act, over which he has ministerial oversight, had been given to an NRL club of which he was a registered supporter). The other is Wide Bay MP Llew O’Brien, who will move the spill motion that will vacate the leadership position if it gets the required 11 votes. Sharri Markson of News Corp reports claims Joyce has precisely that many votes, but this does not seem to be the majority view: a Seven News reporter related a view that Joyce had about seven, while an unnamed Liberal MP told The Australian ($) Joyce would not get “anywhere near” winning. David Littleproud, Keith Pitt and David Gillespie will all nominate for the deputy position, with Littleproud rated the favourite.

• Richard Di Natale announced yesterday that he was quitting both the Greens leadership and would shortly leave the Senate, saying he wished to spend more time with his family. Every indication is that he will be succeeded this morning by the party’s sole member of the House of Representatives, Melbourne MP Adam Bandt. The Australian ($) reports there are “discussions under way” for Queensland Senator Larissa Waters to take on a new role as party leader in the Senate”. Di Natale will remain in parliament pending the party’s process for choosing his replacement, which is likely to take several months. There is only the vaguest of speculation at this point as to who the successor might be.

By-election news:

• It has been confirmed the Queensland state by-election for the Gold Coast state seat of Currumbin, to be vacated with the resignation of Liberal National Party member Jann Stuckey, will be held on March 28, the same day as the state’s council elections. The selection of lawyer Laura Gerber as LNP candidate has fuelled Stuckey’s attacks on the party, on the basis that she was chosen by the party’s state executive rather than a vote of local members, and that this reflected a determination for the seat to be contested by “a skirt”. Among the reasons for Stuckey’s alienation from the party is that her own favoured successor, Chris Crawford, was blocked by the party’s vetting committee last year. The LNP has held the seat since 2004, currently on a margin of 3.3%.

• The date for the Northern Territory by-election in the Darwin seat of Johnston has been set for February 29. The seat is being vacated with the retirement of Labor member Ken Vowles after a period of estrangement from the party and its leader, Chief Minister Michael Gunner. The seat will be contested by Joel Bowden for Labor; Josh Thomas for the Country Liberals; Steven Klose for the Territory Alliance, the new party associated with former CLP Chief Minister Terry Mills; and Aiya Goodrich Carttling for the Greens. Labor has held the seat since its creation in 2001, currently on a margin of 14.7%.

Preselection news:

• South Australia’s Liberals have chosen a factional moderate, Andrew McLachlan, to fill the Senate vacancy created by the retirement of Cory Bernardi. McLachlan has served in the state’s Legislative Council since 2014, and been the chamber’s President since the 2018 election. Tom Richardson of InDaily reports McLachlan won 131 out of 206 votes in the ballot of state council members to 51 for former Law Council of Australia president Morry Bailes and 24 for former state party treasurer Michael Van Dissel, both of whom are associated with the Right. Bailes’ weak showing in particular amounted to an “epic defeat” for hard right forces including Boothby MP Nicolle Flint and Barker MP Tony Pasin.

• Another looming federal redistribution in Victoria, whose population boom will again entitle it to an extra seat, has set off a round of turf wars within the ALP, highlighted by a scuffle that broke out at a branch meeting last week. This reportedly followed the arrival of 100 supporters of Labor Right powerbroker Adem Somyurek at a branch meeting held at the Hoppers Crossing home of Jasvinder Sidhu, a Socialist Left preselection aspirant, who was allegedly assaulted after telling the group to leave. Somyurek is said have designs for his faction on the seat of Lalor, held formerly by Julia Gillard and currently by Joanne Ryan, which the party’s once stable factional arrangements reserved for the Left. According to a Labor source quoted in The Age, the Right has secured control of branches in the Calwell electorate and is likely to take the seat when the Left-aligned Maria Vamvakinou retires, while the Left is seeking to gain leverage by putting pressure on Right-aligned Tim Watts in Gellibrand.

Also, the Nine/Fairfax papers are reporting on an Ipsos poll of 1014 respondents concerning climate change, which is apparently part of an annual series conducted by the pollster, with no information provided as to who if anyone might commission it. While the poll records a high pitch of concern about climate change, it does not find this to be at a greater height than last year (somewhat at odds with the recent finding of Ipsos’s Issue Monitor series, which recorded a post-bushfire surge in concern about the environment), and actually records an increase in the number of respondents who had “serious doubts about whether climate change is occurring”: from 19% two years ago to 22% last year to 24% this year.

Newspoll: 52-48 to Labor

Labor slightly widens the lead it opened in the previous Newspoll, and Anthony Albanese maintains his ascendancy as preferred prime minister despite a slight fall in his personal ratings.

The Australian reports the latest Newspoll has Labor’s two-party lead widening from 51-49 to 52-48 since the previous poll three weeks ago. Both major parties are down on the primary vote, the Coalition by two to 38% and Labor by one to 35%, while the Greens are up one to 13% (equalling their best result since 2011) and One Nation is steady at 4%. Scott Morrison’s personal ratings are unchanged after the hit he suffered in the previous poll, at 37% approval and 59% disapproval, while a spike in Anthony Albanese’s ratings last time has failed to completely stick, with his approval down three to 43% and disapproval up three to 40% (compared with 40% and 41% in the poll before). However, Albanese maintains the lead on preferred prime minister he opened up in the last poll, which is out slightly from 43-39 to 43-38. The poll was conducted Wednesday to Sunday from a sample of 1510.

Donation drive

At the end of every second month, this site rattles offers a gentle reminder to its valued readers that it relies on their patronage to survive and prosper. Donations are gratefully received at all times, though perhaps especially during the lean periods between elections, like this one (though minor relief is on the way in the form of Queensland and Northern Territory by-elections and the Brisbane council and lord mayoral elections). They can be made by clicking on the PressPatron button at the top of the page, or the “become a supporter” buttons that appear at the foot of each post. If you are having technical problems with the donation facilities, which have been known to crop up from time to time, please drop me a line at pollbludger-AT-bigpond-DOT-com.

Essential Research: sports rorts, ICAC, Australia Day

The latest from Essential finds majority support for removing Bridget McKenzie, but with a third saying they haven’t been following the issue.

Essential Research has not allowed the long weekend to interrupt the fortnightly schedule of its polling, which continues to be limited to attitudinal questions. Conducted last Tuesday to this Monday from a sample of 1080, the most interesting question from the latest poll relates to Bridget McKenzie, whom 51% felt should have been stood down by the Prime Minister. Only 15% felt he was right not to do so, while a further 34% said they had not been following the issue. The question included an explanation of what the issue involved, which is always best avoided, but the wording was suitably neutral (“it is claimed she allocated $100million to sporting organisations in marginal seats to favour the Coalition”).

The poll also finds overwhelming support for the establishment of a federal ICAC – or to be precise, of “an independent federal corruption body to monitor the behaviour of our politicians and public servants”. Fully 80% of respondents were in favour, including 49% strongly in favour, which is five points higher than when Angus Taylor’s troubles prompted the same question to be asked in December. Also featured are yet more findings on Australia Day, for which Essential accentuates the positive by framing the question around “a separate national day to recognise indigenous Australians”. Fifty per cent were in favour of such a thing, down two on last year, but only 18% of these believed it should be in place of, rather than supplementary to, Australia Day. Forty per cent did not support such a day at all, unchanged on last year.

Note that there are two threads below this one of hopefully ongoing interest: the latest guest post from Adrian Beaumont on Monday’s Democratic caucuses in Iowa, and other international concerns; and my review of looming elections in Queensland, where the Liberal National Party has now chosen its candidate for the looming Currumbin by-election, who has not proved to the liking of retiring member Jann Stuckey.

US Iowa Democratic caucus minus six days

Polls show Bernie Sanders with a narrow lead over Joe Biden in Iowa. Also: the upcoming Irish election and yet more on Brexit. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

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.

Six days before the US February 3 Iowa Democratic caucus, the RealClearPolitics poll average has Bernie Sanders narrowly leading with 25.0%, followed by Joe Biden on 22.0%, Pete Buttigieg 17.0% and Elizabeth Warren 13.5%.  Nationally, it’s 28.4% Biden, 23.0% Sanders, 14.9% Warren, 8.0% Michael Bloomberg and 6.9% Buttigieg.  In the last two weeks, Biden and particularly Sanders have gained, mostly at Warren’s expense.

Iowa is important because it helps to winnow the field of candidates, and candidates who exceed expectations often get a surge in their national voting intentions.  Three more contests are scheduled in February: New Hampshire (February 11), Nevada (February 22) and South Carolina (February 29).

The early states are important mainly to demonstrate strength; on “Super Tuesday” March 3, 36% of all pledged delegates will be awarded, and this could be decisive.  Delegates are allocated proportional to vote share in each state and Congressional District (CD), but with a high threshold of 15%.  That threshold applies to CDs, so any candidate who fails to break 15% in a CD gets zero delegates from that CD.

Biden has polled strongly with black voters, but not so well with whites.  Iowa is a virtually all-white state.  If, as some polls suggest, Biden nevertheless won Iowa, he would likely be the Democratic nominee to face Donald Trump in November.  If he fails to win Iowa, Biden is still well-placed when the contest turns to more diverse states.

You can see my Conversation articles for more on the US elections.  The strong US economy is Trump’s best asset.

Is Brexit over on January 31?  No

After the Conservative landslide at the December 12 election, Boris Johnson easily passed his Brexit deal through the Commons, and Britain will Leave the European Union on January 31.

However, there will be no major changes until at least December 31, when the transition period expires.  The transition period could be extended, but Johnson has ruled it out by legislation.  The transition period is time to negotiate a UK/EU trade deal, and pass it through parliament.

While the Conservatives hold 365 of the 650 Commons seats, 118 Conservative MPs rejected Theresa May’s deal when first put to a vote in January last year, and 75 in March.  Johnson would easily lose Commons divisions if those defections were repeated.

If Johnson agrees a soft trade deal with the EU, he is likely to anger hard Leave Conservative MPs.  If no deal were agreed, there would be a “no deal” Brexit on December 31.  With Brexit assured, there would be little incentive for hard Leavers to hold their noses and vote for a soft Brexit.

Also in Britain, there is a Labour leadership contest.  This will be decided by a preferential postal vote among Labour members, with the result announced in early April.  The main contenders appear to be the pro-Remain Keir Starmer and the pro-Corbyn Rebecca Long-Bailey.  A mid-January YouGov poll of Labour members gave Starmer a 63-37 lead over Long-Bailey, from first preferences of Starmer 46%, Long-Bailey 32%.

A Starmer victory is unlikely to help Labour in Leave-voting regions.  According to a YouGov post-election poll, the Conservatives won lower-income voters by a greater margin than higher-income voters.  They won those with the lowest education level by 58-25.

Irish election: February 8

The Irish election will be held on a Saturday.  Previous Irish elections have been held on weekdays, so this Saturday election may boost turnout.  The 160 lower house seats are elected in 39 electorates that each have three to five members.  Ireland uses Tasmania’s Hare-Clark system, so a quota for election is 25% in three-member electorates, 20% with four, and 16.7% with five.

Irish politics has been dominated by two conservative parties: Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.  Currently there is a minority Fine Gael government.  Polls suggest Fianna Fáil will narrowly win the most seats, but there will be a large increase for the far-left Sinn Féin and the Greens.

Spain’s Socialists win confidence vote after election

I wrote for my personal website on January 8 that the left-wing Spanish government won its investiture vote by just two votes, 167 to 165.  Also covered: the left won the Croatian presidential election, a conservative/green government was formed in Austria, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu easily won a primary for leadership of his Likud party.