Monday, September 12, 2005

Cue the surf music

I am so glad Idid not try to extend my district by district analysis to the entire country. I would have ended up looking like a fool (sloth has its benefits). As it is, I remain as I was: a mildly annoying ignorant twit.

What was really surprising was that the public opinion polls were right.

In recent years, projections based on the results of public opinion polls have consistently underestimated Democratic Party performance on election day. A number of unscientific theories had been advanced for the decay in the reliability of the opinion polls, the most famous of which being that "the increased used of mobile telephones by the young had made it impossible for randomized telephone dialing to tap into the mood of this part of the electorate."

My own pet view has been that in two-income homes, no one iss around or has any time to answer the damn phone.

Two days prior to election day, theLDP central party headquarters warned its local organizations to look away from the gaudy poll projections in the newspapers, faxing the local branches photocopies of Mainichi Shimbun front pages from 2003 that predicted an outright LDP victory--quite the opposite of the spanking actually delivered by the electorate that year.

This time around public opinion polls accurately reflected the eventual relative performances of the two parties, at least in proportional seat terms.

The problem for pundits now is that they have to come up with a whole new set of unscientific theories to explain why the poll were right.

As to the specific projections of the total seats the LDP would win...let us just say that a whole bunch of folks at the Sankei Shimbun are feeling pretty smug right now.

Uh oh, Kanto!

The really stunning images for political junkies were the "Before" and "After" maps of the Kanto region. What was once a red heart surrounded by a speckled band of red and green became a sweeping green plain with a few tiny desultory poppies stuck on it for variety’s sake.

The Democratic Party went from 37 district seats in the Kanto to 5, one of which was a near-death experience for Kan Naoto [A personal note: Kan's victory, the only DPJ district win in Tokyo, means that the equipment and buildings at my daughter's elementary school will probably remain substandard. Just remember, Kan's is the district that got sodomized by JR East's plan to double the width of the Chuo rail corridor--making it impossible for cars and pedestrians to cross the tracks for hours at a time).

Being an overseas member of the U.S. Democratic Party, I know how it feels to see at electoral maps change like that in the hours after the polls close.

Things I am not surprised that did not happen, but would have loved it had they did:

a) An LDP candidate, frustrated at the Socialist or People's Party candidate opining yet again about "what will happen to inaka no ojiichan or obaachan if the nearby post office is no longer offering financial services in 10 years time," blurting out, "Cut the crap! In 10 year's time, according to census estimates, ojiichan and obaachan will have either moved to the cities or will be dead!"

b) a “yusei min'eika” ticker been printed in the top corner in the newspapers, counting both the number of times Koizumi said the phrase “yusei min'eika” in the last 24 hours and in the hours since he dissolved the Diet (the phrase must haunt his dreams).

c) in the wild “summer of love” spirit of cool biz, shikaku and "even if I am killed" an LDP candidates had come out of the closet. That or Fukaya Tadashi had explained what "my father was a shoemaker" means (ahh, Nonaka Hiromu's one saving grace).

d) a live web broadcast of Hu Jintao watching the results come in.

Finally, a pox on every idiotr who utters the platitude that Koizumi triumped by offering a simple, black & white choice to the electorate--as if the electorate had the political sophistication of a class of two-year olds. Ridiculous! Koizumi's genius was strategic ambiguity (and not a little tactical sexuality) in offering all possible choices to all the the electorate.

His actual "simple" message:

"If you love the LDP, vote LDP. If you want to reform the LDP, vote LDP. If you want to destroy the LDP, vote LDP."

A nice little demonstration of the political genius of this “ice cream for everybody” approach can be found in this evening's Asahi Shimbun. Page 3 is crammed with an even-more-abstruse-than-usual set of post-election, multi-colored, three-dimensional graphs that are guaranteed to resist even the most stubborn reader's comprehension.

However, the graph in the top right hand corner of page 3 tells a beautiful tale. According to the Asahi Shimbun's calculations, the LDP received 1) inside Tokyo, 2) in all the cities and 3) in the town and villages of the countryside exactly the same fraction of the vote: 38%. Pathetically, the Democratic Party in defeat nearly matched the LDP in its consistency, winning 30% of the votes in Tokyo and 31% in the cities and towns and villages.

In sacrificing a small part of the LDP's rural support (3%) the Koizumi LDP blew away the Democrats in the urban areas--just as political scientists had always predicted.

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