Five must-read blogs for the US mid-term elections

Keep up to speed with the election events across the Atlantic with our pick of the web.

1. FiveThirtyEight

FiveThirtyEight says it aims to "cut through the clutter of this data-rich world", and it doesn't disappoint. Its beautifully clear maps and diagrams on politicians, polls, and predictions are accompanied by posts guiding you beyond the statistics to understand the underlying evidence. Essential reading.

2. Rasmussen Reports

Probably the most comprehensive coverage of US opinion polls, not only on the popularity of candidates, but citizens' views on almost anything. Crucial for understanding what the American public is thinking.

3. The Daily Beast's Election Oracle

The Election Oracle automatically gathers posts from across the internet and combines them with election poll data to build up what they claim are the most frequently updated predictions on the internet. Particularly interesting are the data on which candidates are winning the discussion on which issues across the internet.

4. The Huffington Post

America's leading liberal news website. Excellent insight into liberal American perspectives on the mid-terms.

5. Mark Mardell's America

Drawing on American culture and his own interviews, Mardell links the headlines and figures with human stories on the ground in the US. An interesting way to try to get inside the American psyche from a British perspective.

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Forget gaining £350m a week, Brexit would cost the UK £300m a week

Figures from the government's own Office for Budget Responsibility reveal the negative economic impact Brexit would have. 

Even now, there are some who persist in claiming that Boris Johnson's use of the £350m a week figure was accurate. The UK's gross, as opposed to net EU contribution, is precisely this large, they say. Yet this ignores that Britain's annual rebate (which reduced its overall 2016 contribution to £252m a week) is not "returned" by Brussels but, rather, never leaves Britain to begin with. 

Then there is the £4.1bn that the government received from the EU in public funding, and the £1.5bn allocated directly to British organisations. Fine, the Leavers say, the latter could be better managed by the UK after Brexit (with more for the NHS and less for agriculture).

But this entire discussion ignores that EU withdrawal is set to leave the UK with less, rather than more, to spend. As Carl Emmerson, the deputy director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, notes in a letter in today's Times: "The bigger picture is that the forecast health of the public finances was downgraded by £15bn per year - or almost £300m per week - as a direct result of the Brexit vote. Not only will we not regain control of £350m weekly as a result of Brexit, we are likely to make a net fiscal loss from it. Those are the numbers and forecasts which the government has adopted. It is perhaps surprising that members of the government are suggesting rather different figures."

The Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts, to which Emmerson refers, are shown below (the £15bn figure appearing in the 2020/21 column).

Some on the right contend that a blitz of tax cuts and deregulation following Brexit would unleash  higher growth. But aside from the deleterious economic and social consequences that could result, there is, as I noted yesterday, no majority in parliament or in the country for this course. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.