Wednesday, August 31, 2016

US Election: Announcement

A bit of a surprise; but starting on Labour Day (and Labor Day in the US) I will be covering the US election with a minimum of a post a week between then and the election.

I'll also be doing at least one additional post a week covering politics elsewhere, and will be looking back at past events when I can for at least 3 posts a week. I'm also looking at writing short funny stories on my personal blog.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

2016 Russian election preview

Russia is going to the polls on September 18th. I'll be covering this in greater detail as we near it, for now, a simple projection.

248 UR +10
72 CPRF -20
68 JR +4
62 LDPR +6

This is based on polls, as well as past 'poll error' between Russian polls and results. I'll go into greater detail what this all means, but in short "Putin retains Majority" and "Not much changes" are the two big stories.

Edited to add:
I thought I should explain a bit about the parties.

UR - United Russia - Putin's Party. This is the party of the administration. Having a "Party of the Administration" is not that unusual, France has had a number of these. It's seen as covering the political space between "Centrism" and "Nationalism", including the great bulk of "Conservatism"

CPRF - Communist Party of the Russian Federation - Communists. Unclear how left the party actually is, but signs point to them being the successor to the Soviet Union. It's quite likely if they returned to power that Russia would go back down the USSR path, and retain it's very strong governmental controls.

LDPR - Liberal Democratic Party of Russia - Nationalists. Don't be confused by the name. This party is the "racist party" for Russia. The ideals of this party are focused on the old Russian Empire, though the party is not monarchist. It's best known for being extremely anti-west, and supports unification with Belarus. This party would also retain governmental controls.

JR - Just Russia - Left. This party is very difficult to classify traditionally. If one keeps in mind Russia's current political system, it becomes much easier to explain how this party works. Just Russia has been created to be the "alternative" to the sitting government. Those who are "in power" do not want either the Communists or the LDPR in power, but know that under a 'Democracy' it is possible for UR to eventually lose. JR is the alternative that is "supposed" to win in such a situation. It's unclear how much it would liberalize governmental controls, but signs point to not much.

United Russia has not always been "in power" and at one time, it was seen as the "alternative" to the Yeltsin Administration, until it was able to absorb that party. As such there is some precedent to suggest that, perhaps, Just Russia may be government at some point. If this ever happens, don't expect a radical 180 degree change, but it could also signal a warming towards the west.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Most recent countries

A short post. I thought I would list all the countries that have been formed since my birth in 1984. This is useful for anyone doing research on historical statistics, as these countries would have been counted as part of another country prior to their formation.

Countries in [Square Brackets], while "countries" during this period, were under occupation or other forms of control that my impact their international standing during this period. The date that this ended is noted; along with the date it began if after 1984:

South Sudan (from Sudan)

Montenegro (Serbia and Montenegro)
Serbia (Serbia and Montenegro)

Timor-Leste (Indonesia)

[Palau] (US/UN Protectorate)

From (Soviet Union) Breakup: Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
From (Yugoslavia) breakup: Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro.
[Kuwait] (Iraqi annexation) [began: 1990]

Eritrea (Ethiopia)
Czechia (Czechoslovakia)
Slovakia (Czechoslovakia)

Germany (East Germany, and West Germany)
Yemen (North Yemen, and South Yemen)
Namibia (South Africa)

[Cambodia] (Vietnamese Occupation)

[Micronesia] (US/UN Protectorate)
[Marshall Islands] (US/UN Protectorate)

These are only states with overwhelming recognition. As such, Kosovo, recognized by 109 UN members, and Palestine, recognized by 139, are not on this list. If included, Kosovo would be listed under 2008, and Palestine would be in square brackets under the date "present". Joining Palestine would be Western Sahara, which was recognized by 84 UN members at one point or another, and 47 at current. The Peoples Republic of China, with recognition from 172 UN members, was considered to have "overwhelming" recognition and so is included, but does not quality for any positions on this list. Taiwan, with only 21 members recognizing it, however, does not, but would not qualify for any positions on this list. Cyprus, Armenia, South Korea, and North Korea, which are each recognized by a different set of 192 of the 193 UN members, are on the list but do not qualify. Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Northern Cyprus, each recognized by under 10 UN members, are not counted. Nagorno-Karabakh, and Transnistria are recognized by 0 UN members, but are recognized by states which UN members recognize. Somaliland is not recognized by any other nation, but is the only other entity of any sort, not mentioned in this paragraph, to have any level of serious diplomatic recognition from UN members.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Canada as part of the USA

This is a big discussion, but I will try to keep it short, and may do another post on this topic later on.

As usual, I'd like to examine the numbers. Congress in particular. The bad news is Canada won't have 2 Senators like every other state. The reason is simple; Canada is a federation. We already have a set of sub-national units that exist within a federal system, they are called Provinces, and it only makes sense that each Province would become it's own State. There may be some issues with some states; PEI for example will be very very small, but even Newfoundland can compete in terms of population with Wyoming. As such, each Province would have 2 Senators. They would be elected the same as other Senators are.

In terms of the house, most provinces are rather small. The Atlantic Provinces would each have 1, while Manitoba and Saskatchewan should just be able to edge into qualifying for 2. The other provinces are more difficult to calculate.
Alberta has 4.23 million people, BC has 4.71, Quebec has 8.29, and Ontario has 13.87

The nearest state to Alberta in terms of population is Kentucky at 4.43 million, it has 6 congressmen in the house, and so Alberta would be assigned 6. The nearest state to BC is either Louisiana or Alabama, the latter has 7 congressmen, so BC would get 7. Ontario is closest to Illinois, at 18, which has 12.86, but that's quite a bit lower. In general there are 1 congressmen for every 650K or so people, so Ontario would get 19. Quebec meanwhile is very close in population to Virginia, at 8.38, and would get 11. Presuming, of course, they stick with this new nation. This is also a very quick and rough way to estimate these numbers, numbers which would change at the first census as the total number is fixed to 435, and as such, adding new states means existing states lose congressmen.

In the coming Federal election, polls show that all 10 provinces would vote for Clinton, even Alberta, so we can presume that's fairly safe. In the Atlantic it's a near certainty that the Democrats would sweep all 4 seats. Manitoba would be split in two, likely Winnipeg and Not-Winnipeg. The former is solidly Democratic, while the latter should also lean towards the Democrats, as Manitoba's rural areas are not as right-wing as in some other provinces.

BC would have 7 new seats; it has 42 seats currently in our house. That means 6 ridings per seat. It's pretty easy to find a 6 seat geographic area of BC that would vote right-wing; it's more difficult to find another 6 seat region. If you gerrymander, you should be able to do it, but the way the geography works, and the way current politics are in the US, it's quite clear to me that this would return 6 Democrats, and likely, 1 Republican from the northern and interior areas.

Ontario would also have 6 riding sized districts. Unlike BC, Ontario has less of a history of voting for "extreme" right-wing parties, and is much more strongly opposed to some Republican ideas, especially with the current set of hot button issues, such as abortion. There should be easily 4 or 5 ridings that could go Conservative, but how many would go Republican? My guess is 4 of those, including to my own dismay, the one including the area I live in. Keep in mind as well that Canada would be "new" to US politics, and as such, the Presidential candidates would likely have a much higher impact on how people vote. As well, 50% of Canadians back the Liberal Party at this time, and that would almost certainly be translated directly into Democratic votes.

Quebec would have seats the size of 7.5 current ridings. Due to the unique politics of Quebec I could see 3 seats going to the Bloc, and possibly some to the Republicans; however, I don't think Quebec will bother sticking around, and so, I will ignore them.

All of the above provinces would produce 2 Democrats as Senators. The only way a Republican could win is if a "big star" ran, such as Micheal Chong, but people like this would probably either run as a Democrat, or change to another level of politics. Additionally, the Democrats are likely to put up their own "big names" for Senator positions such as Chrystia Freeland.

Saskatchewan is where we begin to get into possible Republicans getting elected in a large way. Both seats would be tossups. The seats would likely centre around Regina and Saskatoon. It's very likely the provincial Saskatchewan Party would affiliate with the Republicans, and I do think that this would be enough to push both seats towards the GOP. Despite that, I could still see the Democrats winning at least one of the Senate seats; likely a big-wig like Ralph Goodale, while the other could well go Republican.

Alberta is more complicated. The seats would be about 5 and a half ridings in size. Calgary and Edmonton would each have two seats, which would also include suburban towns around the cities. The two rural seats would nearly certainly go Republican. Calgary's southern seat would almost certainly for Republican as well. The other 3 seats are likely to go Democrat. Despite that, it's quite likely Alberta would return 2 Republican Senators. There are simply more "big names" on the right than there are on the left, and especially if folks like Stephen Harper could be called out of retirement, we'd easily see victories here.

The end result of our little test is that Quebec leaves, while the remainder of Canada elects the following.

15 Democrat
3 Republican

Congressmen: (house)
30 Democrat
10 Republican

58 EVs - Clinton
0 EVs - Trump

In 2014, the Republicans won 247 seats in the House, while the Democrats won 186. This means that our contribution would not change the partisan makeup of the house. However, in the Senate, we have 46 Democrats vs 54 Republicans. Our new totals would be 61 Democrats vs 57 Republicans, a massive change. Given our tendency (if polls are correct) to prefer Democratic candidates for President, it's quite likely that adding Canada to the US would ensure the current balance of power; with a Democratic administration and a Democratic controlled Senate, would continue, while little would be done to turn the House over to Republican control.

Monday, August 8, 2016

US Projection, FPTP math, and other things

August 8th is a great day for me, it's when I celebrate my birthday! I'm 32. I've been 32 for a while, sort of, as I like that number, and decided I'll be 32 from my birthday in 2015 and will continue to be until my birthday in 2018!

Outside of personal news, I've also done up a projection update for the USA. Trump is bleeding votes in all the polls and things are looking very good for Clinton as not as many people are turning towards Johnson as expected. Johnson likely won't make the debate (he needs a steady 15% to do so, and is closer to 12% at the top and 5% at the bottom) but there is time for this to change.

As such my current projection is as follows:

I highly recommend the website BTW. You can make your own projection and see how the math stacks up.

As for how bad it can get for Trump; this is my current projection on that front:

Johnson getting even 1 EV would be an embarrassment of sorts. I don't think Johnson can win any EVs on his own. He's not close enough in any of the districts of Maine or Nebraska, nor is he close enough in any individual state. The most likely places for a win would be New Mexico, on his base support, and Utah, on splitting the vote by other candidates. In Utah in particular, it's possible the winner will take under 1/3rd of the vote, should this happen the chance for a Johnson victory increases.

The only other candidate in Utah who could make an impact - and it's unclear if he has managed ballot access or not - is Farley M Anderson, who took 2% of the vote in the 2010 governors election. The Constitutional party, running Darrell L. Castle, may also play a role, but without a quality campaign and clear ballot access (no sign of either) it's unlikely that these candidates can take more than 10% of the vote, and even under great circumstances, they'd struggle to run even with Johnson in the state. No other state has such a potential vote split, and so I will continue to keep an eye on Utah.

Lastly, some math.

I have a simple formula for making very rough projections for FPTP results. In this, you simply square the popular vote. Here are some examples:

Ontario 2014

Liberals took 38.65 percent of the popular vote, which, when squared, is 1,493
Tories took 31.25, which is 976 when squared
And the NDP at 23.75 is 564

Add these numbers (1493+976+564) to get 3033

1493 is 49% of 3033
976 is 32%
and 564 is 19%


49% of 107 (number of seats available) is 52.4, which we will round to 53.
32% is 34
And 19% is 20

So our math suggests the following results (and reality is shown in brackets)

Lib - 53 (58)
PC - 34 (28)
NDP - 20 (21)

Not that bad for a very, very simple formula.

Here is the Alberta election from 2015 using the same math

NDP - 47.3 (54)
WRP - 16.9 (21)
PC - 22.2 (10)
Lib - 0.5 (1)
ABP - 0.2 (1)

Some other examples:

Saskatchewan 2016

SKP - 49.2 (51)
NDP - 11.5 (10)
LIB - 0.2 (0)

Federal 1993

LIB - 197.6 (177)
BQ - 21.2 (54)
REF - 40.6 (52)
NDP - 5.5 (9)
PC - 29.9 (2)
NAT - 0.2 (0)
IND - n/a (1)

New Brunswick 1987

Lib - 46.8 (58)
PC - 11.0 (0)
NDP - 0.2 (0)

As you can see it's not perfect, however for such an extremely simple formula, I do feel it can be useful in some ways.

Monday, August 1, 2016

New vs Old, Left vs Right

I've been arguing for some time that there is a change in this country, that the "Old Left" and "Old Right" - the parties we know as our left and right wing parties - is on the way out and the "New Left" and "New Right" is on the way in.

We saw a similar change 100 years ago when Labour parties replaced Liberal parties as the voice of the left, and we are now seeing another major change as Conservatism morphs into Nationalism and, for lack of a better term, Trumpism. I am, in fact, working on a post about nationalism in Europe, and have been stuck as to how to finish it for weeks now. With this post, and the kernel of this old VS new idea in your head, I think I can finish that post by tomorrow.

With that in mind (the new vs old) watch this video from John Oliver:

You'll see how this is starting to impact US politics as a whole.

Here is something I wrote in 2012. I may not agree with all of it today, but it does explain this change.

Between 1900 and 1940 there was a great shift in what Left and Right meant for the political spectrum.

Prior to this, Left was allowing women the vote, allowing non-property owners to vote, allowing non-Christians to vote even, while Right was standing up for the powers that existed.

After this, Left was for Socialism, redistribution of wealth, giving money to the poor, larger governments with larger supports, so on and so forth.

Left and Right is changing again. The old left-right argument is over. We found a balance that works. There is a new left-right argument out there.

In the old Left, the Green Party of Canada is moderate and somewhat centrist. In the new Left, the Greens are firmly left-wing. The new Left is about a Global unity of ideology, doing for others, working for the world and the community, thinking universally, ignoring national boundaries, and so forth. The new Right is perfectly exemplified by the things Harper stands for. His stances on Kyoto, Abestos, the Environment at large, the Gun Registry, etc, are all firmly in the new right, even if they fit the old right as well.

Our system is changing. Look at Canadian elections and UK elections for example. From 1960 to 1990 both countries had instances where we only had 3 parties in the chamber. Compare this to elections in both countries from both 1930's and today, and you'll see the growth in parties and ideologies, etc. Our entire worldwide political system is changing, and that is why there is so much apparent chaos. The Tea Party VS Occupy debates are not just last vestiges of the old system; they are the founding sparks of the new system, and this will be the new left-right debate. 

Beyond that, the US election does show a great example of this. While folks like Cruz and even Clinton have policies within the transition, Trump and Sanders are not. Trump is fully "new right" while Sanders is fully "old left". The overlap in the two, such as opposition to TPP, show what kind of policies will be changing.

Quickie: US Polls

Just a very short, very quick update. This is a good website to track polls: