As local newspapers back Ron Paul – is he going to be the big winner in New Hampshire?

Ron Paul's close third place has been largely over looked in the post-Iowa assessment of Rick Santorum - will he be next week's big winner?

Every West Wing fan will tell you that as sure as day follows night New Hampshire follows the Iowa Caucus. It is the touchstone of the US primaries and has levelled many a senior politician in the past.

So following the narrowest of wins in Iowa for Mitt Romney over the surprising runner-up, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul’s 21% has been largely forgotten in the post-Iowa scrutiny that has been aimed at Santorum.

Ron Paul has been a well-known member of Congress since the mid-1970s and has been subject to a great deal of media scrutiny. This, combined with the backing of three local newspapers in New Hampshire, may mean that he becomes the anyone but Romney candidate following the contest in New Hampshire on January 10th. With the polls showing a bump in support for both Paul and Santorum ahead of next week’s primary it is going to be a close contest to see who becomes the main anti-Romney candidate ahead of the more conservative Southern states.

Diane Abbott allowed me to follow her on Twitter for all of 15 minutes before she blocked me…

Diane Abbott's apology is welcome but silencing critics is an unhealthy sign in the age of social media democracy

I must confess I have never really been that much of a follower of the great and the good on Twitter and have only really got vaguely into it recently – I am careering towards my 400th tweet after being on it for 2 years.

However, I know a few mega-tweeters like fellow Electoral Reformer, Arnie Craven, and saw a mild storm brewing last night concerning the rather unfortunate comments made by the Diane Abbott, concerning her apparent belief that:

“White people love playing ‘divide & rule.'”

I must confess I was rather shocked that a mainstream politician, which Diane is nowadays, couldn’t see the danger in her comments. Ignoring the obvious comparison with what would happen if the opposite was said by another politician it just struck me as being amazingly crass. White people, and others, do have an awful lot to own up to concerning our colonial history and I am the first agree with Diane that our history is littered with cases of ‘divide and rule’, but the belief that somehow this attitude continues to the present day, as a tactic to create schism amongst an entire section of society is reckless.

Diane has thankfully apologised, as I did have a small hand in making sure that she felt the pressure from reasonable people, as well as those who seek to find offence. However, I suspect mine has been the shortest ever following of any Twitter account, as I started following her at just gone midnight and within 15 minutes I appeared to have been eliminated.

Politicians should be able to take criticism from reasonable people. It is concerning that when reasonable people identify a fairly gaping hole in a train of thought they are silenced for their criticism.

Tales from the Phonebank 2 – Learning the AV Referendum Lessons – Canvassing

The Yes to AV team hit the streets of Warrington with dramatic success - then we turned into the road where I was born

One of the key objectives of the Yes campaign was to make as many phone contacts as possible.

I, and the North West team, as well as all the other regions, put in a lot of time and energy in getting people into the phonebanks to try and get the numbers of contacts required to achieve the millions of identified supporters we needed if we were to affect the result.

Imagine our surprise when we discovered that the telephone script we were using was deemed ‘illegal’ by the Information Commissioner!

Unbowed by this important, if momentary setback, we set out to try and meet as many people as possible the old-fashioned way – on the doorsteps.

The first such evening was organised by the campaign organiser in Warrington. Myself and the national campaign manager in charge of making all the contacts duly arrived in the town to go canvassing. Armed with canvas cards, leaflets and posters we set out to test the waters.

After the first main road in Warrington we discovered a most astonishing thing – people thought AV was a good idea! In fact the longer we went on the more posters we were giving out the more we were increasingly bemused that lots of people were considering voting for us. Bearing in mind the polling data at the time it’s fair to say this was quite a surprise.

Then we are arrived in the very road where I was born – Sulby Avenue.

I knocked on the door of the house I was born in. They were in!

Having knocked on the doors of so many supportive people that evening I felt sure that the wise occupants of such a prestigious address (which no doubt will have a blue plaque on the wall one day) would be supportive.

I was wrong, they were voting NO. It was a sign of things to come!

John Ault’s Alter Ego Blog – 2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for my Alter Ego blog. I add it to remind me to blog more often as I have started to enjoy it again.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

No recount when the result is within 8 votes! We could easily have woken up to winner Santorum…

With just 8 votes in it our TVs could easily have been telling us that Rick Santorum was now the frontrunner

As the US presidential campaign continues to roll into progress in the minds of the political classes in Britain it has been well underway in the States for months. Possibly the most surprising aspect of the results from the Iowa Caucus last night is not that Rick Santorum came a close second, though he has spent a lot of time and money in Iowa over the past few months, it’s the fact that he wasn’t allowed to ask for a recount despite being within just 8 votes of winning.

It’s astonishing that winning 30,015 to 30,007 doesn’t strike the Republican Party that this might be within the margin of error for counting 120,000 votes.

As the Washington Post explains GOP officials see the count and as such they are verified by campaign officials from all the candidates, but even so a margin of 8 votes between two candidates polling over 60,000 votes between them would see a number of recounts in Britain with a genuine possibility of the result changing.

It’s entirely possible that instead of waking up to discover that Mitt Romney had won by a narrow margin this morning, maintaining (just) his front-runner status we would be waking up to the surprise news that Rick Santorum had achieved a shock success in the polls and was now the man to beat.

But this is not a public vote and the need to achieve party consensus in what is clearly a tricky contest for the Republicans to manage, over the future of the soul of their party, perhaps doesn’t need to be thrown into Floridian style chaos quite this early.

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