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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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.