Biden 303
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Trump 235
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Dem 51
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GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (208)
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270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2019 2015 2011
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the Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020: (None)
Political Wire logo Andy Beshear Wins in Deep-Red Kentucky
Abortion Rights Fuel Big Democratic Wins
Virginia Voters Reject Glenn Youngkin’s Agenda
Can Mike Johnson Deliver?
Democrats Take Control of Virginia House of Delegates
Exonerated ‘Central Park 5’ Member Wins City Council Race

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Today is Election Day
      •  Trump Legal News: Ramble On
      •  The Sky Is Usually Falling, Rinse and Repeat
      •  Johnson Is Gunning for Entitlements
      •  News From the Other Side of the Pond

Today is Election Day

Odd years are, well, odd years... in politics. Today is Election Day and there is a modest amount of action. You just have to know where to look for it. Some of the contests to watch:

  • Ohio's Issue 1: This is the most important election today. The results will definitely reverberate all the way to Nov. 5, 2024. Ohio voters will get a straight up-or-down vote on adding a provision to the state Constitution guaranteeing every woman's right to an abortion. There was a peculiar proxy vote in August on this and the de facto pro-choice side got 57% of the votes. Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) and the entire Republican establishment has been campaigning fervently for "No on Issue 1." If the initiative passes, especially by a wide margin, DeWine & Co. will all have egg on their faces.

    More importantly, the vote will send a strong signal as to whether abortion is a major issue for 2024. If it gets 55% or more in this red state, Democrats across the country and across the spectrum are going to flog abortion rights for all they are worth in 2024. Their slogan is going to be: "If you want to ban all abortions nationwide, vote Republican. If not, vote a straight Democratic ticket." If it fails or barely passes, Democrats may need a whole new strategy in 2024.

    Misinformation has been swirling around Ohio for months, much of it produced by DeWine. He said that if Issue 1 passes, abortions will be allowed up until birth and parents will not be involved if their daughter decides to have an abortion. Neither is true. Issue 1 says that the state legislature will lose the power to ban abortions before 24 weeks. Existing Ohio laws state that minors must get permission from their parents before getting an abortion. Nothing in Issue 1 invalidates existing laws. DeWine is lying and trying to scare people. Here are signs about Issue 1:

    Signs about Issue 1 in Ohio

    Various conservative groups are putting out blatantly false ads. In one of them, the narrator intones: "Your daughter is young, vulnerable, online. Pushed to change her sex, or to get an abortion. You have some right to help her through this, but activists want to take all of that away." However, Issue 1 doesn't say anything about gender-affirming care for minors. And even if it did, there is no place in the country or the world that has forcible gender changes.

    Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), who would very much like to become Sen. Frank LaRose, has been working as hard as DeWine to try to secure victory. For example, he tinkered with the wording of the ballot proposition. His tinkering was partisan enough that the state Supreme Court (controlled by Republicans) ordered that new wording be produced. LaRose also purged nearly 27,000 voters from voter rolls back in September without bothering to mention it to anyone, despite it being customary to make an announcement. The Secretary's chances at unseating Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will be affected significantly by today's result.

    If the amendment fails, abortions may be banned after 6 weeks on account of an old law still on the books, although the state Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of that. If it passes, Ohio will attract women needing an abortion from West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, and possibly other states where abortions are difficult or impossible to get.

  • Ohio's Issue 2: This isn't getting nearly the attention that Issue 1 is, but Ohioans will also decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana today. Should the measure pass, then Ohio will become the 24th state (and one of the reddest states) to bestow approval on the devil's weed. National legalization would be several paces closer to becoming reality. Meanwhile, if the Issue 1/Issue 2 combo appears to bring young people to the polls, it could significantly impact the blue team's playbook next year.

  • Governor of Kentucky: Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY), son of a former governor of Kentucky, is trying for reelection in a state hostile to Democrats. Donald Trump carried the state 62% to 36% in 2020 and Beshear barely won in 2019 against a crazy person. Fortunately for him, he is running against a different crazy person this time—and this one is Black. If Beshear wins, it will show that Trump voters are prepared to vote for a Democrat when the alternative is completely loony. That situation might just pop up again in 2024. Oh, and by the way, Beshear has made abortion access the linchpin of his campaign.

  • Governor of Mississippi: Here Republican governor Tate Reeves is running for reelection. It should be a no-brainer, right? Maybe not. He is running against a distant cousin of Mississippi-born Elvis Presley, Brandon Presley. A big question is whether Black voters (and rock 'n' roll fans) will turn out big time for Presley. In 2019, Reeves won by only 5% with a fairly low Black turnout. If Democrats can convince Black voters to show up, the Governor might get all shook up by Presley.

    One oddity here is that Presley is anti-choice. This may make him less acceptable to Democrats but more acceptable to Republicans. Since there are more Republicans than Democrats in Mississippi, though, this could be a net plus. Anyhow, we'll know tonight if Reeves needs to book a room at the Heartbreak Hotel.

  • Pennsylvania Supreme Court: In case you missed the memo, Supreme Courts at all levels have become partisan mini-legislatures. In a way, that is not surprising, since justices are either appointed by (partisan) governors or have to run for office, which implies campaigning on issues nowadays. Just saying: "I will just interpret the Constitution and the law" just doesn't cut it anymore. That judges have avoided politics for so long is actually a miracle. But even miracles time out.

    In Pennsylvania, judicial races are openly partisan. There is a Supreme Court vacancy on the ballot with Daniel McCaffery (D) running against Carolyn Carluccio (R). The race won't flip the Court, which currently has four Democrats and two Republicans, but the race could give an indication of how the swing state could go in 2024.

  • Virginia Senate District 31: Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) has spent the better part of a year trying to have Republicans take over the General Assembly. If he succeeds, there will be an instant boomlet for "Youngkin 2024." If he doesn't, or worse yet, the Democrats keep the Senate and flip the House of Delegates, "Youngkin 2024" will be dead and "Youngkin 2028" will be damaged.

    District 31, almost entirely in Loudoun County, is at the epicenter of traditionally Republican territory that is trending blue. Youngkin has tried hard to stanch the bleeding here. Will he succeed? If Russet Perry (D) wins, then no. If Juan Segura (R) wins, then yes.

  • Virginia Senate District 16: This is another key swing district. It is in the Richmond suburbs and pits Schuyler Van Valkenburg (D) against Siobhan Dunnavant (R). Van Valkenburg, a state delegate, is trying for a promotion against an incumbent state senator. The main issue in this district is abortion. Dunnavant, a former OB/GYN, supports Youngkin's plans on abortion but says they will not ban abortions. Actually, they will, after 15 weeks. If Van Valkenburg wins, it will be yet another data point suggesting that abortion will be a millstone around the Republicans' necks next year.

  • Virginia House District 57: This is a weird one. The Democrat, Susanna Gibson (D) live-streamed sex with her own husband on a porn site. She did nothing illegal and having sex with your own husband is certainly not a scandal. Still, doing it on a porn site rubs some people the wrong way. The district leans slightly Republican, which may give David Owen (R) the edge. The state Republican Party is going nuts about the "scandal." It is one of the few General Assembly races that is not dominated by abortion.

  • New Jersey Senate District 3: Will a 2021 surprise winner become a one-hit wonder? In 2021, truck driver Ed Durr (R) knocked off state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D). This race was a massive upset. Can Durr get reelected? Sweeney is not trying to get his job back, so Durr will face John Burzichelli (D). One problem Durr has is that he is apparently pro-choice, something that does not sit well with many Republicans, although in urban media markets, the commercials are portraying him as anti-choice, something that does not sit well with most Democrats.

  • U.S. House District RI-01: There is no question that Gabe Amo (D) will beat Gerry Leonard (R) to replace David Cicilline in this House special election. The question is how well he will do. Democrats have generally overperformed in special elections this year. Will Amo keep up the pace? Hard to predict, since most of the 27 special elections this year have been for state legislatures, not the U.S. House.

  • Bridgeport, CT, Mayor: This one is very odd; something of an election in reverse. The incumbent is Joe Ganim (D), who served five terms as mayor, then did 7 years in prison after being convicted on corruption charges, then was elected to two more terms as mayor. That means he's looking for term #8, but the results of the mayoral primary were thrown out, due to credible charges of ballot-box stuffing. The result is that today's general election will move forward as planned, with Ganim facing off against his Democratic primary challenger, John Gomes, who is now running as an independent, as well as Republican David Herz and independent Lamond Daniels.

    If anyone other than Ganim wins, that should be the end of it. But if Ganim wins, as expected, then the Democratic primary will be re-staged at some future (currently undecided) date. Should Gomes triumph in primary v2.0, then Ganim's election victory would be invalid, and there would presumably have to be a general v2.0.

  • NY Suffolk County executive: Republicans rode a red wave in New York in 2022, especially on Long Island. Can they keep it up? This race, pitting Dave Calone (D) vs. Ed Romaine (R), might give us a clue. It was a near tie between Trump and Biden. If Calone wins this one, especially if he wins big, that could be a harbinger that Democrats could pick up as many as four House seats on Long Island in 2024. This race will be watched very closely.

This is not a comprehensive list. There could be upsets in races not expected to be competitive. Also, since all 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly are up, there are bound to be some surprises in races other than those listed above. (V & Z)

Trump Legal News: Ramble On

Donald Trump took the stand in his fraud case yesterday. And what happened? Well, it went so much according to form that we pretty much could have written this item last week.

First and foremost, Trump blustered. He continues to operate under the assumption that insulting Judge Arthur Engoron and the court staff is a smart choice. Presumably, this is because he's using these court appearances as campaign appearances. In any event, Engoron is giving the former president very broad latitude (while also getting angry, mind you), given the fact that Trump is currently a candidate for political office. However, when we're talking a jury trial, where the outbursts could influence the jury, a judge is not going to be so tolerant. Unless it's Aileen Cannon, that is.

Second, Trump rambled (and we thank reader D.E. in Lancaster, PA, for the headline suggestion). In the end, for whatever reason, The Donald struggles to maintain focus for more than 30-40 seconds, and so he goes off on tangents, and tangents to tangents, and tangents to tangents to tangents. AG Letitia James noted it: "He rambled, he hurled insults. But we expected that at the end of the day, the documentary evidence demonstrated that, in fact, he falsely inflated his assets to basically enrich himself and his family."

And on that point, third, and finally, Trump put up a defense... of sorts. Recalling that he is accused of overvaluing his properties, a charge that the AG has supported with ample evidence, he took the position that not only did he not overvalue his assets, he actually undervalued them. The former president continued to throw around insane valuations for specific holdings, like $1.5 billion for Mar-a-Lago. Needless to say, for a man who not only is on a constant search for bank loans, not to mention a man whose self-worth and public image are both wholly tied up in "net worth," it makes zero sense that he would lowball his property values. This is also at odds with the piles of evidence James and her team have presented.

We find it improbable that Engoron—who, remember, is the sole decider here—will believe the tale Trump is spinning, any more than the Judge believes in unicorns or the Easter Bunny. Actually, now that we think about it, unicorns and the Easter Bunny are actually more plausible than the stuff that comes out of Trump's mouth. Though we'll admit that watching Trump speak does make us believe that the story of Rumpelstiltskin might be truthful. There's just something about him that makes us think of spun gold:

Looks like Trump's hair

Can't put our finger on what it is, though.

Once the plaintiff (i.e., the state of New York) was done questioning Trump, the defense... chose not to cross-examine. We are not attorneys, much less trial attorneys, but that sounds a lot to us like waving the white flag, or trying to stop the bleeding. Former U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg, who IS a trial attorney, concurs with our assessment, if that helps.

After his testimony, which is concluded (at least for now), Trump continued to make the day into a campaign appearance, and took a victory lap before the media, opining that his testimony went "very well." The former president's lawyers also got in on the act. For example, Alina Habba appeared on Newsmax to evaluate Tish James: "She's just not that bright. I'm sorry, I have to say it. I've seen their case, I've seen their lawyers. They don't know what they're talking about." For reference, Habba took her law degree at Widener University Commonwealth Law School, which is ranked 159th of the 192 law schools in the country. Do with that information what you will.

Next up in the parade of Trumps is Ivanka, which should be... fascinating. (Z)

The Sky Is Usually Falling, Rinse and Repeat

In view of this weekend's dire-for-Joe-Biden Siena poll of swing states, we'd like to climb into the DeLorean for a moment and share some headlines from way back in the olden days of 2012. Without further ado:

Five stories about dire polls:

Five stories about problems with specific demographics:

Five stories about how foreign policy has become an Achilles heel:

And ten stories predicting overall failure:

These 25 items, in total, come from partisans and from (ostensibly) neutral number-crunchers, from right- and left-leaning sources, from local and national sources, from domestic and foreign sources. Throughout the 2012 cycle, particularly the doldrums before votes started to be cast, there were constant predictions of doom for Barack Obama's reelection campaign. We checked with the staff archivist, however, and it would appear he won that election. In fact, as we understand it, he won rather handily, outpacing one Willard "Mitt" Romney 51.1% to 47.2% in the popular vote, and 332 to 206 in the electoral vote.

We have two points here. We suspect they are fairly self-evident, but we'll make them explicit nonetheless. First, "frontrunner is front running" is basically a "dog bites man" story. There's little to say, and such items are not particularly interesting to read. By contrast, in this particular case, "Donald Trump could win this thing" definitely gives a writer more to say, and attracts more eyeballs, than "Biden has a small lead."

Second—and we've said this many times before, and we'll say it many times again—the election is a year away (literally, as of yesterday). Yes, it is possible to make the case that these dire one-year-out numbers are worse than other dire one-year-out numbers. For example, Barack Obama's approval ratings never got quite as low as Biden's are right now (Obama was consistently in the mid-to-high 40s and low 50s in 2011/2012; Biden is currently around 40). Further, Mitt Romney was not nationally known in 2012, and as the American people learned about him, his support slipped. This is usually what happens as "generic Republican/Democrat" becomes "specific Republican/Democrat." Donald Trump is not "generic Republican" at this point, and so presumably won't be subject to this kind of slippage.

On the other hand, it is also possible to argue that Biden-Trump is sui generis, and that Biden has opportunities to bounce back not available to other sitting presidents. For example, no sitting president has faced an opponent with a better-than-average chance of being a convicted felon by Election Day. Similarly, no president has had "he's too old" as one of his two or three main liabilities as he prepared to face an opponent just 4 years younger. Surely, once the campaign gets underway, Biden and/or his surrogates will strive mightily to remind everyone that Trump may think he's the cock of the walk, but he is no spring chicken.

In short, there is simply no way to know which distinctive features of Trump-Biden (if that's the race we end up with) will be controlling. And until the campaign is properly underway, and some of the known unknowns resolve themselves, these sorts of polling numbers are just interesting fodder for conversation, and nothing else. (Z)

Johnson Is Gunning for Entitlements

Given the situation in Israel, as well as the messy process of replacing Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as speaker, you would be forgiven for forgetting (three "for" words in a row!) that the federal government is a little more than a week from shutting down again. As a reminder, the short-term deal that kept the government open, but doomed McCarthy, will expire on Nov. 17.

McCarthy's replacement, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is keeping things relatively close to the vest, and so it's hard to know what exactly he's going to try to accomplish in this round of negotiations. It is at least possible that he'll try to kick the can down the road on the overall budget so that he can argue with the White House and the Senate about aid to Israel and Ukraine (and possibly Taiwan). Given the credibility Johnson has with the Freedom Caucus, he might get away with this where McCarthy did not.

That said, it is entirely possible that the Speaker will try to use the overall budget to ram through one or both of two things: (1) a package that gives aid to Israel while leaving Ukraine out in the cold, and/or (2) some sort of across-the-board cuts that reduce the federal budget by some amount, like 1%. Johnson's problem is that option #1 is unacceptable to both the Senate (including Republicans) and White House while option #2 is unacceptable to nearly everyone (including military hawks, who realize that such cuts would hit the Pentagon the hardest).

And then, there's the possibility that Johnson will swing for the fences and go after Social Security and/or Medicare. Both of those programs are on an unsound financial footing, and are getting perilously close to being unable to fully fund current liabilities. This could be resolved by increasing intake (which means hiking taxes on those most able to pay) or by reducing outlay (which means cutting benefits). You could surely guess this, but Johnson strongly favors the latter. After all, he lives life Biblically, and there's nobody in that book who said we should be taking care of those who are most in need. Right?

The truth of the matter is that fixing Social Security, Medicare and even the overall deficit will almost certainly require some spending cuts (which Democrats, in general, don't like) and some tax increases (which Republicans, in general, don't like). Unfortunately, in politics in general, and in modern politics in particular, "we both had to give up something" is not a winning line to run for reelection upon. That said, the bull is going to have to be taken by the horns fairly soon. Could that time arrive in the next week? Stay tuned. (Z)

News From the Other Side of the Pond

We have two more items on Israel coming up, one of them already written and the other partly so. However, we want to give ourselves time to get them as right as we possibly can, given the touchy nature of the subject. So, let's take a break, and examine a different foreign affairs subject.

We are always interested in goings-on in British politics, given the tendency for events in the Isles to parallel events in the United States. Because we've done so much on Israel, this had to sit on the back burner for a week or so, but we now present a report that our three regular British correspondents were kind enough to collaborate on:

G.S. in Basingstoke, England, UK: As a small distraction from the problems for leaders in the United States, let's talk about an electoral headache for conservative leaders from this side of the pond. Recently, two by-elections for seats in the House of Commons were held here in the United Kingdom. The first, in Tamworth, was caused by the resignation of the current MP following findings of sexual misconduct. Former MP Chris Pincher (no, really) had received a suspension from the House of Commons, was likely to be recalled, and so jumped before he was pushed. The second, in Mid Bedfordshire, was caused by the resignation of the MP Nadine Dorries after Boris Johnson's dethroning. Dorries covenanted to resign "with immediate effect" on June 9 but delayed this until August 29 to investigate the apparent blocking of her peerage by "sinister forces" in Rishi Sunak's government. For those potentially amused by what a truly British fit of pique looks like, Dorries' scathing resignation letter to the Prime Minister may be found here.

Tamworth, located in pretty much the middle of England, has historically been a bellwether constituency but trended heavily Conservative in recent elections. A moderately affluent, demographically white market town, Tamworth gave us Robert Peel, one of the more famous of the Conservative Victorian era Prime Ministers, and enjoys the ignominious distinction of being the most overweight town in England. At the last election in 2019, Pincher won with a vote share of 66% and a margin of 43%; this time the good people of Tamworth reversed their rightward trend and returned a new Labour MP, Sarah Edwards—a swing to Labour of 23.9%.

Mid Bedfordshire, located in the London commuter belts, is pretty much your archetypal Conservative safe seat: rural, wealthy, with health and home ownership well above the national average, the Conservatives gained it from the Liberals in 1931 and have held it ever since, with voters electing Nadine Dorries three further times after a much criticized appearance on a survival reality TV show in 2012. At the last election Dorries won with a vote share of 60% and a majority of 38%; last week, the seat changed hands for the first time in the best part of a century, with a swing to Labour of 20.5%.

As a very coarse analogy with American states (and one which will doubtless prompt much justified criticism!): Tamworth was the Conservatives' 57th safest seat of their then-354 MPs. Working to the same centile, this result is roughly equivalent to the Democrats flipping the states of either Idaho or Arkansas. By vote share, the closest analogy is Tennessee or Louisiana. You may be unsurprised that the BBC's resident psephologist called this "one of the worst nights any government has endured." It is true to say, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak immediately commented, that by-elections are often idiosyncratic and "local factors were at play." That said, the sheer size of the swing and the history of the seats is causing some to predict a repeat of 1997's general election when Tony Blair's government swept to power in a landslide. We shall find out within the next 15 months or so whether they are right.

A.B. in Lichfield, England, UK: What will particularly worry Conservative Party strategists about these by-election losses is how different Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire are; and yet both seats were won by Labour in crushing results. Tamworth was represented by Labour from 1996 through 2010, but its county of Staffordshire subsequently became one of the staunchest pro-Brexit regions in the country, with its Conservative MPs—except in the traditional pottery-making city of Stoke-on-Trent, where the seats are much more marginal—elected by increasingly significant margins. This is prime "Red Wall" territory, where Labour will need to win back Brexit-supporting traditional Labour voters who switched to the Conservatives under Johnson. Results like Tamworth suggest that they're well on their way; and if you believe in omens, the last time Labour took the seat from the Conservatives was in a 1996 by-election—the year before Tony Blair's crushing 1997 general election landslide.

Mid Bedfordshire, in contrast, is a traditional affluent Conservative-supporting seat that was last won by a party other than the Tories in 1929, when it was won by Milner Gray of the old Liberal Party. This is the type of seat that the latter's descendants in the form of the modern centrist Liberal Democrats might have expected to win. Indeed, there was speculation that with Labour and the LibDems both pushing to win the seat, the Conservatives might just sneak through and hold on. Instead, Labour set a new record for the largest majority ever overturned in a UK by-election (with the LibDems finishing a strong third). If Labour can win Mid Bedfordshire, then very few Conservative seats can be considered safe.

And one other nagging worry for Conservative Party strategists is that in both Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire, the Labour majority was smaller than the share of the vote won by the far-right populist Reform Party (previously the Brexit Party of the Trump supporting Nigel Farage). No one expects Reform to win seats in next year's general election, but they plan on running in every constituency, and if they can bleed 2-5% of the vote from the Conservatives, the latter party may well find themselves losing close seats to Labour and the LibDems (and perhaps the SNP and Plaid Cymru in Scotland and Wales) because they're being squeezed from both the left and the right.

But when will next year's general election take place? In theory, Sunak could wait until January 28, 2025, but given this means dissolving Parliament on January 3, no one thinks the Prime Minister is insane enough to run a campaign over Christmas and the new year. In a normal year, we might be looking at October or November, but Conservative Central Office is said to be cautious about holding an election while the U.S. presidential election reaches its climax. The current favorites are September or perhaps holding the general election alongside the May 2, 2024, local elections on the theory that it's better to rip the electoral band-aid off just once rather than suffer successive bad losses in both the local and the general elections.

Finally, on a quick personal note, and just to emphasize for our American cousins how different British historical contexts can be, Tamworth was the political capital of the Kingdom of Mercia in the 7th through 9th centuries, while neighboring Lichfield—where I live—was founded in its current form as the Kingdom's ecclesiastical capital in the 660s by St. Chad of Mercia (not the patron saint of contested Florida elections). These days, alas, Mercia's ancient capitals seem to be better-known for colourful right-wing populist MPs than their rich history; at least until Labour took Tamworth.

S.T. in Worcestershire, England, UK: So, why are the Conservatives performing so badly?

There are a number of factors but number one must be "the economy, stupid." The U.K. is in the midst of a period of stagflation and it could be a long while before the outlook improves for most voters. Further, the level of taxation is at or near a 70-year high and the government seems to have little headroom to reduce it (though it's worth noting that Liz Truss still thinks otherwise and has just launched a "think tank" to advocate unfunded tax cuts—a policy that worked so well during her "successful" 49 day premiership). Sheer exhaustion is another problem. After 13 years partially or wholly in government, Conservatives are producing few new ideas and it gets increasingly difficult to blame others for the nation's problems. The state of public services is a third issue. To take a single "you cannot make it up" news item from the last fortnight, judges were requested not to pass prison sentences, as U.K. jails were full. This is not a position which the "Party of Law and Order" can feel comfortable about having happen on its watch.

And do the by-election results matter? It is often the case that some are reversed in a subsequent general election (in the 1992 general election, the Conservatives recovered every seat they had lost in the 1987-92 parliament). Turnout is often far lower at by-elections than general elections, as was the case in these two recent elections (but if that affects only one party, that party has problems). By-elections arising from misbehavior by an incumbent often see exceptional results and arguably this covers both contests. And yet... by-elections do impact the political climate. They confirm opinion poll leads (Labour is currently about 15% ahead of the Conservatives in national polls). They create expectations. They certainly influence the mood within parties. And results on this scale mean something and a lot of parallels are being drawn to the 1990's when a similar run of results led to the 1997 general election when the Conservatives lost over half their seats and entered the political wilderness for 13 years.

Above all the Conservatives are running out of time to improve their political fortunes before the next general election. And the agony is not over yet. On Wednesday this week Conservative MP, right winger and Brexit champion Peter Bone was suspended for 6 weeks, after an independent review found him guilty of bullying and sexual misconduct. Suspensions in excess of 10 days can trigger a recall petition which in turn can result in a by-election. Apparently signatures for the petition are already being collected. Bone's Northamptonshire seat, Wellingborough, is not dissimilar to Tamworth. And the results of yet another investigation into Scott Benton, also a Conservative MP, over inappropriate lobbying, are imminent. Benton only gained his marginal seat Blackpool South at the last election. It is one of the fabled "red wall" seats that Labour are desperate to regain. They may well get the opportunity to do so earlier than expected.

Thanks, chaps! And tomorrow, we return our attention to Israel. (Z)

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