America's electoral college. Britain's constituency boundaries - the centre-right's biggest blocks to government in both countries
By Paul Goodman
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I am wary of parallels between American and British elections. The two countries are very different as well as beguilingly similar. I have made an exception for the Republican and Conservative plight with ethnic minorities - which is too in-our-face to be overlooked.*
However, there is another similarity both obvious but overlooked. The Republicans are not in a bad position. They control the House. They hold a record number of state governorships. Mitt Romney won some 48% of the vote - a total British Conservatives would kill for at a general election.
But that total looks very different filtered through the States's electoral college. For nearly one in two votes of all Americans, Romney won only about two in five votes in the college.You can see where this is going.
Let's suppose the Conservatives and Labour win 35% of the vote each in 2015. Now put these figures in Electoral Calculus. Labour has 318 seats and the Tories 275 for the same vote share.
So Ed Miliband comes out short of a majority by only eight seats. (I have the LibDems on 15%.)I am not saying that this will be the result (though it's a far-from-absurd stab in the dark). Nor am I suggesting that Electoral Calculus is a perfect medium. Nor am I arguing that bias in the voting system is the deciding factor, since vote distribution is a very big one.
What I am saying is that we will be fighting on a hostile battlefield until the system is made fairer to England - preferably by a further reduction of Scottish seats post the 2014 independence referendum. We will be the natural party of opposition.
The biggest single obstacle to a Tory majority in 2015 isn't David Cameron's mistakes.
Nor is it the lack of Boris, or Blue Collar Conservatism, or an EU referendum - and so on.
It's the system. My Carthago Delenda Est is: without change, we're stuffed.
* See Peter Hoskin, John O'Sullivan, Sunder Katwala, Ann Applebaum...and on a domestic note my piece from Monday: "It doesn't matter if we think we're not racist. It matters if ethnic minorities think we are."