Read more: Hillary Clinton—one-term wonder?
The BBC has Sports Personality of the Year; Time Magazine has Person of the Year; the Economist has country of the year. This blog, not wishing to be left behind, offers you number of the year. And even though we are only in April, the number of the year is clear. It is 55. To be more precise, it is 55 per cent.
As things stand, by the end of this year, Hillary Clinton will be President-elect and the United Kingdom will have confirmed its membership of the European Union. However, in both cases, a narrow vote will satisfy neither of the victors. For a real, lasting and effective triumph, both Clinton and the EU “Remain” campaign need to secure 55 per cent support.
Let’s consider the US first. For six of his eight years as President, Barack Obama has had to contend with a hostile Congress, with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives determined to thwart his reform agenda. In part this is because Obama had two terrible mid-term elections in 2010 and 2014. (In these, seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate were contested, along with 38 Governorships, though the Presidency was not. Members of Congress face elections every two years). But in 2012, the year in which Obama enjoyed a reasonably comfortable victory over Mitt Romney, the same voters elected 234 Republicans to Congress, and only 201 Democrats.
The contrast between a Democrat president and a Republican Congress is partly down to split voting: people liking their local Republican member of Congress, but preferring Obama in the White House. But that is only part of the story. Across the US, 1.4 million more people voted Democrat rather than Republican in the 2012 Congressional elections. The Republicans retained control of Congress not because of their national popularity, but because of the power they enjoyed in a large majority of states to redraw congressional boundaries to their advantage.
Decisions about congressional boundaries have always been political (as distinct from the independent system we have in…