Biden’s 2020 electoral map was ultimately a pretty good one for Democrats. While several states may have been closer than Democrats would have liked, Biden won back the “blue wall” states in the Upper Midwest and expanded Democrats’ map in the Sun Belt. He also won a record breaking 80 million votes nationally. Democrats down-ballot can’t quite say the same, though. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses the challenges that the party faced in House, Senate and state legislature races. They also ask whether it was a good use of polling to survey preferences for the 2024 Republican primary before Trump has even left the White House.
You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.
The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.
Canada promises two Arctic icebreakers in pre-election job boost
Canada on Thursday promised to build two Arctic ice breakers and create hundreds of jobs in two politically influential provinces that will help decide an election considered likely this year.
The Liberal government, citing the need to increase Canada‘s footprint in the resource-rich Arctic as global warming opens up the region, said at least one ship would be ready by 2030.
“(This) will give Canada a year-round presence in the Arctic to help … safeguard our marine environments, ensure the safe and efficient movement of ships, and protect our borders,” Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in a statement.
Ottawa said each ship will generate 300 jobs and create another 2,500 positions in various supply chains. One vessel will be built in Quebec’s Davie shipyard and the other by Seaspan in British Columbia.
The two provinces together account for 120 of the 338 seats in the House of Commons and are crucial to the fortunes of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who aides say is likely to call an election by end-2021.
Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the opposition Bloc Quebecois, dismissed the announcement as electoral politics, saying polls suggested some senior Quebec Liberals could lose their seats.
The ice breaker project has been hit by several delays since the previous Conservative government first announced it in 2008.
Officials declined to say how much each vessel would cost but said it would exceed the most recent estimate of C$1.3 billion ($1.1 billion), which was made in 2012.
The 150-meter (490 feet) ships will weigh 23,700 tonnes and – unlke Canada‘s sole existing ice breaker – are designed to operate year-round throughout the Arctic.
Russia and the United States are the other major Arctic players while China says the region is of strategic interest.
($1 = 1.2193 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by David Gregorio)
G7 to consider mechanism to counter Russian ‘propaganda’
By William James
LONDON (Reuters) -The Group of Seven richest countries will look at a proposal to build a rapid response mechanism to counter Russian “propaganda” and disinformation, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Reuters.
Speaking ahead of a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in London, the first such in-person meeting for two years, Raab said the United Kingdom was “getting the G7 to come together with a rapid rebuttal mechanism” to counter Russian misinformation.
“So that when we see these lies and propaganda or fake news being put out there, we can – not just individually, but come together to provide a rebuttal and frankly to provide the truth, for the people of this country but also in Russia or China or around the world,” Raab said.
Russia and China are trying to sow mistrust across the West, whether by spreading disinformation in elections or by spreading lies about COVID-19 vaccines, according to British, U.S. and European security officials.
Russia denies it is meddling beyond its borders and says the West is gripped by anti-Russian hysteria.
“It’s time to think of why the countries which are sick to the core with propaganda, and which used it more than once to justify armed intervention and toppling of governments … accuse our country of their own sins,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on social media after Raab’s comments.
China says the West is a bully and that its leaders have a post-imperial mindset that makes them feel they can act like global policemen.
Britain has identified Russia as the biggest threat to its security though it views China as its greatest long-term challenge, militarily, economically and technologically.
Raab will meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday, kicking off a week of diplomacy aimed at reinvigorating the G7’s role and forming a wider bulwark against those it sees as undermining the rules-based international order.
“The scope for intense global cooperation, international cooperation with our American partners and indeed the wider G7, that we’re convening this week has never been greater,” Raab said.
He stressed that meeting in person – something only possible due to measures like daily testing of attendees – would make diplomacy much easier: “You can only do so much by Zoom.”
The G7 members are Britain, the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan and their combined gross domestic product is about $40 trillion – a little less than half of the global economy.
British and U.S. officials have expressed concern in recent months about growing strategic cooperation between Russia, the world’s largest country by territory, and China, the world’s fastest-growing major economy.
Asked about the concerns, Raab said: “What matters to us most is that we broaden the international caucus of like-minded countries that stand up for open societies, human rights and democracy, that stand for open trade.”
He said many of those allies wanted “to know how this pandemic started.” The coronavirus outbreak, which began in China in late 2019, has killed 3.2 million people and cost the world trillions of dollars in lost output.
Raab said some of the barriers between the G7 and other like-minded countries needed to be broken down, so that there could be a broader network of allies that stood up for open markets and democracy.
Britain has invited India, Australia and South Korea to attend this week’s meeting, running from Monday to Wednesday, and the full leaders’ summit in June.
Asked whether Britain could seek to join a separate grouping known as the Quad – the United States, Japan, Australia and India – Raab said there was no concrete proposal as yet, but Britain was looking at ways to engage more in the Indo-Pacific.
(Writing by William James and Guy Faulconbridge; Additional reporting by Vladimir SoldatkinEditing by Susan Fenton and Frances Kerry)
New Zealand says differences with China becoming harder to reconcile
By Praveen Menon
WELLINGTON (Reuters) -Differences between New Zealand and its top trading partner China are becoming harder to reconcile as Beijing’s role in the world grows and changes, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.
The comments come as New Zealand faces pressure from some elements among Western allies over its reluctance to use the Five Eyes intelligence and security alliance to criticise Beijing.
In a speech at the China Business Summit in Auckland, Ardern said there are things on which China and New Zealand “do not, cannot, and will not agree”, but added these differences need not define their relationship.
“It will not have escaped the attention of anyone here that as China’s role in the world grows and changes, the differences between our systems – and the interests and values that shape those systems – are becoming harder to reconcile,” Ardern said.
“This is a challenge that we, and many other countries across the Indo Pacific region, but also in Europe and other regions, are also grappling with,” she added.
In comments that sparked some reaction among Western allies, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said last month she was uncomfortable expanding the role of Five Eyes, which includes Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States.
“This speech appears to be crafted to deflect surprisingly sharp and severe criticism from commentators after Mahuta’s remarks last month,” said Geoffrey Miller, international analyst at the political website Democracy Project.
However, the comments do not change New Zealand’s overall shift to a more China-friendly, or at least more neutral position, he said.
“Ardern and Mahuta are selling the new stance as New Zealand advancing an ‘independent foreign policy’ that is not loyal to any major bloc,” he added.
China, which takes almost one-third of New Zealand’s exports, has accused the Five Eyes of ganging up on it by issuing statements on Hong Kong and the treatment of ethnic Muslim Uyhgurs in Xinjiang.
New Zealand’s parliament on Tuesday is set to look at a motion put forward by a smaller party to declare the situation in Xinjiang as a genocide.
Ardern said New Zealand would continue to speak about these issues individually as well as through its partners, noting that managing the relationship with China is not always going to be easy.
China’s Ambassador to New Zealand, Wu Xi, who also spoke at the event warned that Hong Kong and Xinjiang related issues were China’s internal affairs.
“We hope that the New Zealand side could hold an objective and a just a position, abide by international law and not interfere in China’s internal affairs so as to maintain the sound development of our bilateral relations,” she said in her speech.
Beijing is engaged in a diplomatic row with Australia and has imposed trade restrictions after Canberra lobbied for an international inquiry into the source of the coronavirus. China denies the curbs are reprisals, saying reduced imports of Australian products are the result of buyers’ own decisions.
Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said China had recently acted “more aggressively abroad” and was behaving “increasingly in adversarial ways.”
When asked if New Zealand would risk trade punishment with China, as did Australia, to uphold values, Ardern said: “It would be a concern to anyone in New Zealand if the consideration was ‘Do we speak on this or are we too worried of economic impacts?'”
(Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)
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