Analyzing Britain’s 2010 General Election

By: Inoljt,

Several days ago Great Britain held a general election to decide the country’s government over the next few years. Facing discontent and a nation thirsty for change, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the governing Labor Party were soundly defeated. The challenging Conservative Party, led by David Cameroon, gained 97 seats but failed to take a majority in Parliament. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats, who had surged after a strong performance in the first debate by their leader Nick Clegg, badly underperformed their expectations.

This election offers a useful study of a political system outside of the United States. While more similar to the United States than most countries, Great Britain’s electorate also offers a number of intriguing differences.

A map of the results illustrates several aspects of this system:

Analyzing Britain's 2010 General Election

Note: In Britain and most of the world, the party of the left – Labour – is traditionally represented by the color red (symbolizing the revolution and the so-called blood of the workers). The Conservatives are represented by blue; the Liberal Democrats by yellow.

More below.

At first, it seems that the Tories swept the board. One can’t help but notice the sheer landmass covered by conservative-won seats.

Indeed, the Conservative Party did do quite well; with 36.1% of the vote, they won 306 out of 650 seats. Labour dropped to 29.0% and 258 seats; the Liberal Democrats took 57 seats on 23.0% of the vote.

Yet the map overstates Tory strength. Like the Republican Party of the United States, the Conservative Party does best in rural areas. Winning these seats looks good on a map but doesn’t guarantee winning an election.

The Labour Party, on the other hand, has traditionally dominated Great Britain’s densely populated cities – much like the Democrats in the United States. Much of its base lies among cities such as Sunderland, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, and – of course – London. These places look small on maps but elect quite a lot of MPs.

To illustrate this point, here is a map of the 2005 general election under redrawn boundaries for 2010:

Analyzing Britain's 2010 General Election,Analyzing Britain's 2010 General Election

Labour did quite a bit better in 2005, as this map indicates. Yet one might be inclined to guess, by the geographic spread of Conservative seats, that they lost the election. In reality, Prime Minister Tony Blair had led his party to win 35.3% of the vote and 356 seats – a governing majority.

Interestingly, Labour majorities in cities tend to be somewhat thinner than Tory majorities in the countryside. This constitutes the opposite of the situation in the United States – where Democrats often win cities by 75-25 margins and Republicans win rural regions by 60-40  margins.

A proportional map, therefore, offers a more accurate visualization:

Analyzing Britain's 2010 General Election,Analyzing Britain's 2010 General Election

One sees another interesting pattern emerge here; the electorate exhibits a coherent North-South divide. In the poorer North Labour does quite well, winning a good majority of seats. In the wealthier South the Conservatives are dominant. With the exception of London, Labour wins almost no seats in southern Great Britain.

There is also a substantial difference between England, Scotland, and Wales. While England votes strongly Conservative, the latter two remain Labour strongholds. In Scotland the Tories actually come in fourth, winning only one seat – a legacy of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who to this day remains extraordinarily unpopular in Scotland. Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Scottish heritage also probably also helped Labour and hurt the Tories. While the Conservatives do better in Wales, winning eight seats, they still run ten points behind Labour.

It is in South England where the Conservatives do best. Labour runs in third place in the Southwest, Southeast, and East regions. In the Southeast region, for instance, Labour wins a mere 16.2% of the vote; the Tories win 49.9% of it.

These patterns go back for a long time. Take the 1955 general election:

Analyzing Britain's 2010 General Election

There are some differences, for sure. In 1955 Conservatives had a base in rural Scotland; that has vanished today. The strength of third parties is noticeably less.

Yet what strikes the eye is the degree of similarity between 1955 and 2010. By and large, the bases of the Labour and Conservative Parties remain the same as they were half a century ago. Britain’s regions exhibit a remarkable degree of stability in which party they support – something which can not be said for the United States.

Finally, perhaps the most interesting difference between the United States and the United Kingdom is the strength of third parties in the latter. Both countries follow a first-past-the-post system, which makes the presence of a non-regional third party almost impossible. Yet in Great Britain the Liberal Democrats have somehow managed to gain legitimacy and a respectable amount of seats, through careful targeting. In the aftermath of this election, with a hung parliament, there has even been substantial discussion about changing the electoral system. Meanwhile the two-party system remains iron strong in America. Despite all their similarities, cultural and systemic, the electorates of the United States and the United Kingdom are following sharply divergent paths.

How Obama Can Win Utah (Without a 20% National Victory)

By: Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpr…


Democratic candidates in Utah must feel as if they’re facing an impossible task. The state is often considered the most far-right Republican stronghold in the United States. Winning Utah is akin to slaying a mighty dragon with only a bow as one’s chosen weapon.

Like all dragons, however, Utah has a weak spot. The year 2012 may be a ripe time for Obama to shoot an arrow through it.

The majority of Utah’s voters are Mormon; the religion is a heavy influence on daily life in the state. The vast majority of Mormons are also conservative, because Mormonism is an inherently conservative beast. In every presidential election so far, Mormons have proved to be strongly Republican.

Mormons like to think of themselves as average, normal Americans. They’re good people. They help with the community. They love their children and teach them traditional values. Nobody cares if they have a different religion.

Except many people do care very much indeed, especially the type of person who tends to vote Republican. Many would never vote for a Mormon.

Imagine the following scenario, below the flip.

Mitt Romney decides to runs for president in 2012 and starts as the front-runner. The race quickly narrows down to Romney and another Republican – perhaps a Huckabee-type figure. Romney’s Mormonism becomes a strong undercurrent and then explodes into the media spotlight, much like race did in the 2008 Democratic primary. It becomes clear that Romney is losing support because of his religion; eventually he loses the primary and ends up faintheartedly endorsing the Republican nominee. The good folk of Utah, angered by Romney’s treatment, turn out in drastically reduced numbers during the general election. Many vote for Obama – enough that, in an election he’s winning by 10% or so – he barely takes the state.

An unlikely scenario? Not really. First, Romney seems nearly certain to run in 2012; even now he is running a shadow campaign. In 2008, Mormonism was a strong undercurrent; Romney even gave a speech on his religion. There is no reason to think why it wouldn’t be in 2012. I doubt Mitt Romney will win the nomination in a competitive race; apart from his Mormonism, he is a terrible politician who lost all the important states in the 2008 primary (except for Michigan, which he won by promising to bring back jobs that will never come back).

On the other hand, its not certain that the media will pick up on the Mormon issue. And Republicans are strong enough in Utah that they might still win the state, even if all the above did occur.

Then again, Obama won Indiana when everybody said it couldn’t be done. Moreover, in 2008 he made strong gains in Utah, improving by 18% from John Kerry’s performance. Partly, this is probably because Obama is very popular in the West.

And maybe, just maybe, the Mormon factor had something to do with it.

NY-23: Bill Owens On (Some Of) The Issues

Cross posted at Daily Kos

The other day, I shattered the ugly belief that the Republican candidate in the 23rd congressional district, Dede Scozzafava, was the most liberal. That post was a direct response to Markos’ post Thursday, which also included a critique of Democratic candidate Bill Owens.

One of the arguments made by Markos is that Owens is a “conservaDem” and that he would be just another member of the Blue Dog Coalition should he win in November. Owens, who was an independent but has changed his party affiliation to become a Democrat, was picked over two Democrats to run.  

Because of that, there is a high level of uncertainty about Owens. Progressives are skeptical (and rightfully so) because they see the Blue Dogs throughout the country and don’t want to see Owens end up just another Blue Dog. I also think that some of this skepticism is related to the district Owens is running in. He isn’t the first Democrat running in an upstate New York district whose views have been questioned and who has been considered a prospective Blue Dog. It apparently comes with the territory, whether it’s fair or not.

Here are two of Owens’ television ads which give you an idea of his approach. His emphasis is jobs and creating jobs in the North Country.

This is what we know about Owens based on the issues page available on his campaign website:

– His area of expertise is jobs. He has a seven-point plan for creating jobs. The plan includes: An emphasis on green energy, recruiting Canadian investment (if you’re familiar with NY-23, you know that it borders Canada), keeping Fort Drum strong, job training for veterans and graduates, investing in local infrastructure, higher education and agriculture.

– When it comes to health care reform, he supports all of the following: Controlling health care costs for the middle class; providing affordable health insurance to every American; preventing health insurance companies from using preexisting conditions and caps on lifetime coverage; giving small businesses and individuals access to lowest rates available to large corporations and government employees; allowing anybody to keep their existing coverage.

This part of his health care reform platform is very interesting:

Using profits from repayment of TARP funds, allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, increased efficiency in our health care system (like putting all health care records on-line and requiring insurance companies to accept payment on-line), and cutting special interest tax loopholes (like tax benefits for companies that offshore jobs) to help pay for health care reform.

He also proposes the following: Allowing states to use savings from elimination of uncompensated care costs (Over $100 billion annually) to reduce taxes. In New York this would help prevent property tax increases.

Owens opposes Medicare benefit cuts, taxing health care benefits and increasing taxes on the middle class.

In addition to all of that, we also know the following:

– Owens supports the Employee Free Choice Act in its current form.

On top of asking about EFCA, the Watertown Daily Times also asked the candidates where they stand on a handful of other issues. Here’s where Owens stands on those issues:

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Owens said he would have voted for the ARRA if he was in the House at the time. Scozzafava also said she would have supported it, but then gave critiques of the stimulus that showed she has some problems with the package, which tells me that maybe she would not have voted for it. (Let me just add that it is easy to say now you would vote for it, as a Democrat or Republican, given the ARRA’s positive impact.)

This is what Owens said about the stimulus:

Mr. Owens said he’d like to see more of the funds redirected toward job creation or assisting farmers.

“What you want to do with the stimulus dollars is set up a infrastructure base so that people going forward can independently make their decisions and hopefully be successful in their businesses,” he said.

Taxation of health benefits: Owens said in the article that he would have to look at it before giving a clear position. That article was written at the end of August. His website, which was recently updated, tells us that he is opposed to taxing health benefits.

Cash for Clunkers: Owens said he supports the CARS program (commonly known as Cash for Clunkers) and that he believes “It helped put labor back to work. And it did a lot of important things to get the economy moving in the right direction.”

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: Owens said he wasn’t familiar with this legislation (hard to imagine, given its profile) but he did say that “Everyone should be paid fair wages for their work, irrespective of any other factor that may come into play.” While Owens should know the legislation, that position is better than the position of his two conservative opponents. Scozzafava (a woman, I remind you) said she was oppose the legislation. Conservative Doug Hoffman also said he would oppose the bill.

Davis-Bacon: If you aren’t familiar with this (the Watertown Daily-Times apparently thought this was a good question to ask), Davis-Bacon is described as the following:

“The law, which has been in effect since the Great Depression, requires construction workers to be paid prevailing wages on public works projects.”

Owens said he would support Davis-Bacon staying in place.

Some of the other positions I have been able to find on Owens is that he supports taking tax breaks away from companies who send jobs out of New York to other locations.

Bill Owens thinks that companies receiving tax breaks from the government must live up to their end of the promise. That’s why he supports holding big businesses accountable by taking away tax breaks from companies that outsource jobs away from Upstate New York.

He also supports agriculture and rural development and this statement on his website gives us a glimpse into what his approach will be when it comes to agriculture:

That’s why Owens will fight to help local farmers and ranchers by using subsidies and import limits to make sure they get fair prices for their goods. And Owens supports Senator Chuck Schumer’s call for an investigation into why dairy farmers are getting paid lower and lower prices for their milk, while the price of milk remains high in stores. Bill will go to Congress and work for farm policy that works for producers as well as consumers to make our local economy work better for everyone.

New York has been hit hard by the dairy price crisis. One of the factors that plays into that are imports that are brought in from outside of New York (and in certain cases, outside of the country) and compete with local producers. Dairy farmers aren’t getting enough to cover the cost of producing milk and that has caused many problems for these farmers. It is key for Owens to address this issue. As an upstate representative, he will be talking about it a lot.

Social issues: There is very limited information out there, but this is what we know about Owens and two big issues: Choice and marriage equality.

On marriage equality, Owens said this to PolitickerNY:

On the wedge issue of same-sex marriage, Owens is to the right of his Republican opponent Scozzafava. He does not support full marriage–he opposes any federal action on the “states rights issue”–telling me, “I fully support equal rights for everybody, and certainly civil unions are in that mix. For religious reasons, I have difficulty with the use of the word marriage in that process.”

That same PolitickerNY piece said that “Both Scozzafava and Owens are pro-choice; Conservative Doug Hoffman is against same-sex marriage and is pro-life.”

To what degree Owens is pro-choice (there are other reproductive rights issues, obviously, that he should be asked about) remains to be seen.

Here’s the moment of truth: What ideology does Owens belong to? I have a hard time calling him a “conservaDem” or prospective Blue Dog. But I also have a hard time calling “progressive” or “liberal.” This is a man who has been an independent. And in the media accounts about this race, the word “moderate” has been tossed around. I tend to agree with the perception here: Owens is a moderate. We do need to know more (while I know this post is helpful, we need more information on him) but this is a start. The only thing people seem to know about Owens is that he isn’t a Democrat. That leads to immediate skepticism about what he will do, if elected.

Owens has made one thing clear: He will support the President. He’s the only candidate saying that and that’s something we need to focus on.

I hopefully outlined all the reasons why you shouldn’t support Dede Scozzafava. I should also add that she is opposed to cap and trade legislation (even though her predecessor, John McHugh, supported the climate change bill) and that she supports the Bush tax cuts. Owens does not support the Bush tax cuts and has put an emphasis on keeping taxes low for the middle class.

To close, I don’t believe Owens will be a Blue Dog should he be elected. But I also know that we need to know more about Owens. There has been a lack of access and information. Everything I have put here (with the exception of a few points) are items I had to look up on my own. There has been no clarification from the campaign on certain positions and that is something we need. We are working on getting that information, but for now, I hope this will suffice.

NY-23: Scozzafava’s Record At A Glance

Last night, Markos wrote that Republican Dede Scozzafava was “the most liberal candidate” in the 23rd congressional district race.

This doesn’t surprise. A lot of people, including people here in New York, have made the same argument. Part of it has to do with a lack of research on Scozzafava. The other half of it is a lack of information on the Democratic candidate Bill Owens, who conservatives call “liberal” and some progressives like Markos have called a “Blue Dog.”

After reading Markos’ post multiple times, it seems he uses the following as important points for his “liberal” labeling of Scozzafava.  

– She has been endorsed in the past by the very progressive Working Families Party.

– She is pro-choice and pro-marriage equality, which puts her at odds with the conservatives in the Republican Party.

– She voted to raise taxes when budgets required it.

First, those three points. The Working Families Party does endorse Republicans and allow them to run on their line. It happens, but they are more likely to back a Democratic candidate. Living in New York, my state senator is George Maziarz. He has been endorsed by the Working Families Party in the past because of his connections to people within the WFP.

For Scozzafava, being backed by the WFP can be contributed to a few things. She ran unopposed in 2008 and was not on the Working Families line when she ran for re-election in 2006. She also was not on the line in the 2002 general election. The only times since redistricting in 2002 that she appeared on the WFP line was in 2004 and 2008. In both elections, she ran unopposed. Therefore, the WFP endorsements were more by default than anything. It’s not as if she had to fight for those endorsements with another candidate.

The pro-choice and pro-marriage equality positions are very good and is a breath of fresh air for a Republican. But just as we don’t like it when Republicans try to define us based on social issues, we should not be guilty of the same when it comes to determining whether someone is progressive or not. Is she progressive on these issues? No doubt. But don’t judge a book by its cover.

The last point of Markos: She voted to raise taxes when budgets required it. In New York, that can be seen as a good and/or bad thing. There are good taxes and fees, bad taxes and fees and others that are somewhere in between. Any good progressive in New York will tell you that not all taxes are good and that not all taxes are bad. There is a middle ground. The problem in New York is that we have had too many regressive taxes and not enough progressive taxation. So giving Scozzafava credit for being liberal on this is misguided for the reasons I have shown.

But aside from Markos’ points, I also wanted to address some of the past votes Scozzafava has cast in the Assembly .

– An important issue for progressives in New York has been Rockefeller Drug Law Reform. A bill (A.6085) was passed in the Assembly and a deal was reached with both houses to reform the broken drug laws that led to extreme sentences for some of the most minor offenses. The roll call vote shows that Scozzafava voted against these reforms.

– Earlier this year, the Assembly passed a comprehensive gun package to combat gun violence and put laws in place to provide for better tracking of guns and provide for more accountability. The package includes 13 bills that were passed in the Assembly. Of those 13 bills, Scozzafava voted for only one. That bill was A.7733 and its purpose is to “Authorizes courts to revoke firearms license and seize the weapons of certain individuals.” Essentially, if the person is a threat to the public, courts could take away the firearms license and weapons of that person.

It is safe to say that Scozzafava is pro-gun and clearly anti-gun control of any kind. (I would give her credit for the single “Yea” vote, but it was a unanimous vote in the Assembly. Every Republican voted for it.)

Also, keep in mind that the package came after the shootings in Binghamton, which was a national news story and led to immediate action in the Assembly.

– Scozzafava’s record on the environment is mixed, at best. She voted against the Bigger Better Bottle Bill, but voted for the Green Jobs bill that was unanimously passed in the Assembly. The Assembly passed a package of environmental bills earlier this year. Of the 14 bills included in the package, Scozzafava voted for six of the bills and against eight of them. These were bills that were supported by progressives and the Democratic conference in the Assembly.

– Scozzafava voted against the Farmworkers Bill of Rights that passed the Assembly. This was seen as a pro-labor and pro-worker bill to support farm laborers who face unpleasant conditions in some instances.

– Voted against a bill that would provide additional compensation for police officers in New York City that use a foreign language in the course of their duties. She also voted against legislation that would give the attorney general jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute police misconduct.

– Voted against regulating the use of “no-knock” warrants and monitoring the use of all search warrants.

– Cast a vote against the 2010 Campaign Finance Reform Act, which would provide “for optional partial public financing of certain election campaigns in this state.” (Here is more on this legislation she voted against.)

– Voted against a bill that would require restaurants (with 15 or more outlets in the U.S.) to post the caloric information of menu items. Also voted against a bill banning trans fats in restaurants.

– Voted against legislation that would strengthen New York’s laws against unfair debt collection practices. Also voted against “legislation requiring debt collection firms to provide consumers a written “Debtor’s Bill of Rights” along with their initial debt collection communication.”

– Voted against expanding foreclosure protections. This bill included protections for tenants in property that is being foreclosed.

– Among the many areas, one area that Scozzafava seems to have a consistent record of voting “no” in is housing. This year, the Assembly has passed 20 pieces of legislation related to housing. Of those 20 bills, Scozzafava voted against several of them. The bills she voted against include: A rent increase cap, rent increases linked to inflation rate, Section 8 housing being included in rent regulation, landlord rental unit recovery, affordable housing preservation, excessive rent increase shield and expansion of the Loft Law.

The reality is this: When people say “don’t judge a book by its cover”, you should take their advice. The “cover” on Scozzafava was that she was this progressive Republican because she was backed by the WFP, supported a woman’s right to choose and has been a supporter of marriage equality. But the “book” tells the whole story (as it usually does). Scozzafava has a few positions that are more liberal (on abortion and marriage equality) but most of her positions are, at best, moderate-to-conservative. More often than not, however, she is a conservative.

One more thing: This statement on Scozzafava’s website came after President Barack Obama’s health care address a couple of weeks ago. One of the ideas she pushes? Tort reform. Not exactly the progressive approach to solving the health care crisis, but it’s one of the first (if not THE first) things brought up by Scozzafava.

The conclusion I draw from looking over numerous pieces of legislation is that Scozzafava on most issues is nothing more than your average Assembly Republican. Most of the votes that she did support the Democratic (or progressive) positions came when the whole Assembly voted unanimously for a bill. Scozzafava’s conservative positions are not reflected in the mainstream media, where she is labeled a “liberal” because of her stances on two social issues that, while important, should never define any candidate and should never be the sole indicator of a candidate’s ideology.

I see Scozzafava as someone who is far from the Glenn Becks of the world. But that doesn’t mean she is not conservative. The modern-day conservative is a different breed, but a lot of what Scozzafava stands for resembles an old school conservative. At best, she’s a moderate with conservative leanings. At worst, she’s a conservative Republican whose liberal stances on two social issues have given her an inaccurate label.

Would she be a Susan Collins-type, as Markos suggested? Probably not. Her record has shown that she hasn’t really been willing to buck the GOP party line on big issues (unless the whole GOP goes along with it). There are worse Republicans than Scozzafava, but she isn’t someone I would depend on to cross party lines and vote on a Democratic (and/or progressive) issue.

Where conservative Democratic reps come from

Thanks to David here at Swing State Project, we now have data on how every congressional district voted for POTUS for the last several elections.  This is a treasure trove for geeks like me.  That list is here.

Today, I look at districts with conservative Democrats as representatives

Perhaps the best way to rate the liberalness of a representative is that taken by Jeff Lewis, Keith Poole, and their associates in the nominate data.  They rank the House, from 1 to 435.  I’ve provided the list of districts, and their ranks (1 is most liberal, 435 most conservative).

The most conservative Democrat is ranked 241.  Here are the 42 most conservative Democrats (from least to most conservative), with the election results for POTUS :

Dist    Rep          Obama %  Kerry %    Gore %

TX 17   EDWARDS       32        30       32

CA 18   CARDOZA       59        49       53

CA 20   COSTA         60        51       55

FL 22   KLEIN         52        52       52  

CO 7    PERLMUTTER    59        51       50

FL 2    BOYD          45        46       47

OH 6    WILSON        48        49       47

CO 3    SALAZAR       47        44       39

MO 4    SKELTON       38        35       40

TN 6    GORDON        37        40       49

AL 5    CRAMER (now Griffith - D)

                     38        39       44        

KY 6    CHANDLER      43        41       42

KS 2    BOYDA      (now Republican)

AR 4    ROSS          39        49       49

MN 7    PETERSON      47        43       40

SD AL   HERSETH       45        38       38

TX 28   CUELLAR       56        46       50

OH 18   SPACE         45        43       41

LA  3   MELANCON      37        41       45

MS  4   TAYLOR        32        31       33

TN  8   TANNER        43        47       51

TN  4   DAVIS         34        41       49

FL 16   MAHONEY       (now Republican)

NC  7   MCINTYRE      47        44       48

NY 20   GILLIBRAND    (to be decided)

                     51        46       44

OK  2   BOREN         34        41       47

IL  8   BEAN          56        44       42

UT  2   MATHESON      39        31       31

IL 14   FOSTER        55        44       43

IN  9   HILL          49        40       42

AZ  5  MITCHELL       47        45       43

AZ  8  GIFFORDS       46        46       46

NC 11  SHULER         47        43       40

IN  8  ELLSWORTH      47        38       42

PA 10  CARNEY         45        40       41

IN  2  DONNELLY       54        43       45

PA  4  ALTMIRE        44        45       46

GA  8  MARSHALL       43        39       42

GA 12  BARROW         54        49       52

MS  1  CHILDERS       38        37       40

LA  6  CAZAYOUX       (now Republican)

TX 22  LAMPSON        (now Republican)

Personally, I am on the left edge of the Democratic party.  I very much like my representative, Jerry Nadler, who, per Nominate data, is the 50th most liberal (I’d have to look to find where he differs from the top few); I also like that NY-08 gave over 70% to all three Democratic POTUS candidates.  But not every district is like mine.

More Democrats; better Democrats.   Not better Democrats, fewer Democrats.  Only a few of the above seem to be in districts that could remotely be called ‘safe’.  Many are in Republican strongholds.  Would you rather have Cazayoux or Cassidy?  Mahoney or Rooney?  And those two didn’t even face primaries.  

If we want to replace blue dogs with red Repubs, we can primary them and put up liberals.  If we want to replace blue dogs with better Democrats, we need to educate the people.  

Are there people to primary?  Yes.  Of this list, I’d say Cardoza, Klein, Costa and Perlmuter are candidates.  Barrow, in GA-12, might be also, but not by a liberal, just by someone more in the middle of the Democratic party.  

Things to pay attention to when considering a candidate’s electability

Note: some of these things only apply to incumbents, while some only apply to challengers.

* political positions on issues, as advertised and/or as perceived by people

** how easily said perception can be changed (versus how cemented it already is)

* actual political positions as based on voting records, and whether this is different from the above

* fit to the district based on perceived ideology

* fit to the district based on actual ideology

* constituent services (can seriously make up for bad fits)

* backbencher versus leader

* teflon-coated-ness versus controversy generation (also known as gaffe/misbehavior probability)

* campaigning style–what is it suitable for (liberals, moderates, conservatives, liberal Democrats, liberal Republicans, conservative Democrats, conservative Republicans, rural voters, suburban voters, urban voters, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Whites, etc.)

* campaigning effort and effectiveness (some people are just lazy campaigners or haven’t adapted well to a new district’s style or such)

* charisma

* length of incumbency

* vote percentages in previous elections

* previous positions held, victories, and losses

* scandals (current and past)

* anything that dirty tactics can target (shouldn’t be a deciding factor, but should be paid attention to be ready to defend against)

* fundraising capability and fund availability

* fund usage capability (campaign on a dime?)

Anything else?

And is there a way we can distill this?  Though I’m sure some professional strategists already have some sort of abbreviated list that they use in their line of work.