How many UK titles have endorsed Romney? None

It's a landslide victory for Obama on Fleet Street.

Iain Duncan Smith last night declared that the "the demonisation" of Mitt Romney by the UK press had been "appalling" and, whether or not one agrees with the Work and Pensions Secretary, it's striking that not a single British title has endorsed the Republican candidate.

While it's unsurprising that left-leaning papers like the Guardian and the Independent have cast their imaginary ballots for Barack Obama (as the New Statesman did), it's notable that the Times, the Financial Times and the Economist (all of which endorsed the Conservatives at the last election) have also urged US voters to re-elect the President. Even those titles that might have been expected to endorse Romney, such as the Spectator and the Daily Telegraph, have avoided explicitly doing so, preferring to criticise Obama and praise the wider US right.

Whatever the outcome of tomorrow's election (and the swing state polls point to a near-certain victory for Obama), on Fleet Street, at least, it's a landslide for Obama.

For Obama

Mr Obama stands in a noble liberal tradition that supports an active state as a precondition for individual flourishing. His opponent, by contrast, stands for a shrivelled public realm in which the market rules all and the poor are treated with contempt. In order that the former vision may triumph, Mr Obama must be returned as president on 6 November and Mr Romney decisively rejected.

(New Statesman)

Mr Obama’s first term has not been an unbridled success by any means but his response to Hurricane Sandy has shown that Mr Obama has the bearing and mettle of a president.

Mr Obama still commands great goodwill in the world and can stand on his economic record, given a very difficult inheritance. He deserves a second term.

(Times) (£)

For all his shortcomings, Mr Obama has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him.

(Economist)

This is America's election, not ours, and some Americans think the rest of us have no right to an opinion. But our part of the world is clear that it prefers Mr Obama to have four more years in the White House and on Tuesday we hope that Americans will use their votes to ensure that he does.

(Guardian)

The candidate best equipped for the challenging period ahead is Barack Obama. While his campaign has hardly been inspiring, he remains a thoughtful figure who has taken his responsibilities with a seriousness absent from the Bush years.

(Observer)

Obama has shown that purposeful government can be part of the solution rather than the problem. Four years on from the financial crisis, with extreme inequality an affront to the American dream, there remains a need for intelligent, reformist governance. Mr Obama, his presidency defined by the economic crisis, looks the better choice.

(Financial Times)

Yes, we hope that Barack Obama is re-elected to the world's most powerful position. He is the cooler head and the safer pair of hands. But, if we wish his success, it is not only because his financial policies are more beneficial for the international economy as a whole, and his judgement on foreign ventures more sound. It is also because we still harbour the hope that he could yet change the world for the better.

(Independent)

As for Mr Obama, the naive emotion of the "hopey, changey thing" should give way to a clear-eyed yet enthusiastic endorsement. It would be in the interest of the US and the world if American voters re-elected their President.

(Independent on Sunday)

For the US right

The Tea Party movement may be rough around the edges, but within it is an authentically American protest at the encroachment of big government on individual liberty. Whatever happens on Tuesday, the future of the American right looks bright.

(Spectator)

For neither

Whatever else it is, America remains the most diverse, the most free, the most entrepreneurial and the most successful nation in history. Whether it is Mitt Romney or Barack Obama who ends up in the White House, only a fool would bet against the country he leads.

(Daily Telegraph)

A troubled world still looks to America for leadership, both in terms of economics and on issues of peace and war. What a shame, then, that this election has been fought more on matters of class and character than on policy and principle.

(Sunday Telegraph)

For Romney

None.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney holds a rally in Cleveland, Ohio. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Cameron in Nuneaton. Photo: Getty
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Why fewer of us want a long-term relationship ... with a political party

In 2015, 38 per cent of voters backed a different party to the one they supported in 2010. So what does the rise of swing voters mean for British politics?

For decades political parties have competed furiously for one of the great prizes of British politics: the affections of the swing voter. It wasn’t that long ago that there were relatively few political swingers: until the 1990s, fewer than a quarter of voters would switch parties from one election to the next.

Yet that once relatively rare breed is becoming increasingly common, which means party campaigners are going to have to come up with new tactical thinking. The British Election Study survey panels, conducted episodically over the last fifty years, are unique in that they are able to track the same voters from one election to the next, unlike more conventional opinion polls that only look at a snapshot of voters at a given time. Using these studies, you can identify the percentage of voters who switch their vote from one party to another between each pair of elections since 1966 when such data was first collected.

In 1966 only around 13 per cent of voters had changed their minds since the previous election in 1964. Since then, the proportion of swingers has been steadily increasing, and by 2015, 38 per cent of voters backed a different party to the one they supported in 2010.

The increase in swing voters is pretty consistent. The only exceptions are between February and October 1974, when (understandably) fewer voters changed their minds in eight months than switched in the preceding four years, and between 1997 and 2001, when the electoral dominance of New Labour under Tony Blair held back the tide for a time. These two exceptions aside, the increase has been constant election-on-election.

A lot of vote shifting can go on even between elections where the overall result remains stable. In 2001, for example, more people switched votes than in any election before 1997, with a surprising level of turmoil beneath the surface stability. While these largely cancelled out on that occasion, it set the stage for more dramatic changes in the parties’ votes later on.

So British voters now seem more likely than ever to jump from party to party. But who exactly are these swingers? Are they disillusioned former party loyalists? Or have British voters simply stopped getting into a serious relationship with the parties in the first place? We can get some insight into this using data from the yearly British Social Attitudes Survey, looking at the number of respondents who say that they do not identify with any of the political parties (party identifiers tend to switch much less often) when they are asked ‘Generally speaking, do you think of yourself as a supporter of any one political party?’ and then ‘Do you think of yourself as a little closer to one political party than to the others?’ if they say no to the first question. The graph below combines data from 1984 to 2013. Each line represents people who were born in a different year. Higher lines mean that there are more people who do not identify with a political party. So, for instance, voters born in 1955 started with very low levels of non-identification (22 per cent), which have gradually risen to 44 per cent in the latest survey. Most of the lines on the graph go up over time, which shows that almost all generations are falling out of love with the parties.

However, an acquired taste in swinging among the older generations is dwarfed by the promiscuous younger generations – shown by the dashed lines – most of whom never form an attachment to a party at all. Each generation in the data has been less committed to the parties than the previous generation was at the same age, with around 60 per cent of the youngest generation – those born since 1985 – expressing no attachment to any political party.

Since most of this change has been a generational shift, it may be a long road back for the parties. Loyalty to parties is often handed down in families, with children inheriting their parents’ commitment to a party. Now that this process has broken down, and younger generations have lost their attachment to parties, they may in turn pass on this political detachment to their children.

The majority of younger voters have simply never grown up with the idea of getting into a long-term relationship with a political party, so they may never settle down. Many Labour MPs were outraged when it turned out that lots of the new members who joined up to vote for Jeremy Corbyn had voted for the Green Party just a few months before, but this may simply reflect the political approach of a generation who see parties as needing to earn their vote each time rather than commanding lasting, even unconditional loyalty.

If Britain’s newfound taste for swinging isn’t going to disappear any time soon, what does it mean for party competition? In the past most people had settled partisan views, which seldom changed. General elections could be won by attracting the relatively small group of voters who hadn’t made up their minds and could very easily vote for either of the two main parties, so political parties based their strategies around mobilising their core voters and targeting the few waverers. While they worried about traditional loyalists not turning up to the polls, the parties could be assured of their supporters’ votes as long as they got them to the voting booth.

Nowadays, swing voters are no longer a small section of the electorate who are being pulled back and forth by the parties, but a substantial chunk of all voters. This helps to explain why politicians have been so surprised by the sudden rise of new parties competing for groups previously thought to be reliable supporters. The new parties that have entered British politics have also allowed voters to express their views on issues that don’t fall neatly into traditional left– right politics such as immigration (UKIP) or Scottish independence (the SNP). This in turn has posed a dilemma for the traditional parties, who are pulled in multiple directions trying to stop their voters being tempted away.

This may just be the start. If the number of swing voters stays this high, the parties will have to get used to defending themselves on multiple fronts.

This is an extract from More Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box, edited by Philip Cowley and Robert Ford.