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A bellwether is a leader or indicator of trends. The term derives from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading the flock of sheep. A shepherd could then note the movements of the flock by hearing the bell, even when the flock was not in sight.
In sociology, the term is applied in the active sense to a person or group of people who tend to create, influence, or set trends. In politics, the term more often applies in a metaphorical sense to describe a geographic region where political tendencies match in microcosm those of a wider area, such that the result of an election in the former region might predict the eventual result in the latter. In a Westminster-style election, for example, a constituency, the control of which tends frequently to change, can mirror in its popular vote the result on a national scale.
In the stock market, a bellwether is a stock taken to be a leading indicator of the direction in a sector, an industry or the market as a whole. Bellwether stocks therefore serve as short term guides.JPMorgan Chase is an example of a bellwether stock. As one of the major banks in the United States, it sets the tone for the rest of the industry. JPMorgan Chase also has contracts with companies in other industries, so its performance is reflected in other sectors of the market. Tata Consultancy Services is similarly a bellwether for technology stocks in the Indian markets, BSE and NSE.
In Australian federal elections, the Division of Robertson in New South Wales became the nation's new longest-running bellwether seat, continuously won by the party that also won government since the 1983 federal election.
Previously, the electoral division of Eden-Monaro elected its Member of Parliament from the party which won government at every federal election from 1972 until 2016, when the record was broken after Labor won the seat, while the Coalition won government. The Division of Lindsay in NSW, has elected its Member of Parliament from the party which won government in every Federal election since its creation in 1984 until 2016. Both Lindsay and Eden-Monaro lost their bellwether status at the 2016 federal election, both electing Labor MPs, despite a narrow Coalition win nationwide.
The Division of Makin in South Australia was a bellwether division from 1984 to 2010, although ceased its bellwether record in 2013, when Makin stayed Labor as the Coalition regained power nationwide. Also, in terms of nationwide two party preferred vote, Eden-Monaro, Lindsay, Robertson and Makin have bucked the bellwether trend in the past by voting Liberal at the 1998 federal election. In purely statistical terms, the state of New South Wales, which has the largest population of any Australian state or territory, could also be considered a "bellwether", as, until the 2016 federal election the party which wins government has won the majority of House of Representatives seats in that state at every election since 1963. Unlike many bellwethers, these are cited by analysts solely for their record and are not usually attributed to demographic factors that reflect the median of Australia.
In Brazilian direct presidential elections, the state of Minas Gerais is where the winning candidate took the lead in the last-round election from 1955 to 2018.
In the Canadian province of Ontario, Sarnia-Lambton (and its predecessor ridings) voted for the winning party in every federal election from 1963 until 2011. This streak was broken in 2015. St. Paul's has only elected three opposition MPs since it was created in 1935. Also in Ontario, Peterborough has consistently elected the party which has won the provincial election since 1977. In Alberta, Peace River has elected only three opposition MLAs since the province was founded in 1905.
Since the establishment of the French Fifth Republic, the president was elected by popular vote in 1965 up to 2017, five departments have always voted the chosen candidate in the second round: Ardèche, Calvados, Charente-Maritime, Indre-et-Loire and Loire. No region has done so in the first round.
Since the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany (then West Germany) in 1949, the state where the leading party list vote ( Zweitstimmen ) matched the party of the subsequently chosen Chancellor the most times is Schleswig-Holstein (with two misses: 1969 and 2005), followed by the state of Lower Saxony (with misses in 1949, 1969 and 2005). Both states lie in the North of the country, neither containing many large industrial cities (the biggest being Kiel and Hannover respectively), nor large rural Catholic populations, the traditional base of the SPD and CDU/CSU respectively. Schleswig-Holstein is also famous for having had several state elections result in a one-seat majority for the winning coalition and Lower Saxony's 1998 election (in which Gerhard Schröder was the SPD candidate) is often seen as a "trial run" for the subsequent federal election (which Schröder also won). Both the 1949 and the 1969 elections were rather narrow, the former resulting in a one-vote majority in the election for chancellor and the latter resulting in a 12-seat majority that had broken down due to defections by 1972.
Two individual seats, Valsad and West Delhi have successfully voted for the victorious party for the last eleven general elections.
Furthermore, the party that wins the majority of seats in Delhi has always gone on to form the national government since 1998.
The state of Uttar Pradesh is also seen as a bellwether, with the national government having been formed the majority of times by the party that won the most seats in the state.
Ireland has a proportional representation electoral system, in which politicians are elected by the single transferable vote. Bellwethers here can only be measured by the number of candidates from each side elected to Ireland's multiple-seat constituencies that elect an odd number of members. Between the 1981 general election and 2011 general election, Meath and its successors, Meath East and Meath West, have elected a majority of Fianna Fáil TDs in years when Fianna Fáil formed the government, and a majority of Fine Gael and Labour TDs when those parties formed the government.
In New Zealand, there are three generally accepted bellwether electorates: Hamilton East and Hamilton West, both based around the city of Hamilton, — the 1993 election for Hamilton West and the 2005 election for Northcote. Hamilton East, first contested in 1972, has missed three elections — 1993, 1999, and 2005. They were all held by the National Party in the 2017 election although Labour formed the government after the election. Since the National Party was still returned as the largest party in Parliament, however, the two electorates did in fact retain their bellwether status, albeit to a limited extent.and Northcote on Auckland's North Shore. Hamilton West and Northcote missed one election each since they were first contested in 1969 and 1996 respectively
In the Philippines, the winner of Philippine presidential election has won in Negros Oriental in all instances since 1935 except for 1961 and 2016, and in Basilan since its creation in December 1973 (first election in 1981). After Negros Oriental voted for the runner-up in 2016, Agusan del Norte and Lanao del Sur have the longest active streak, having its provincial winners be the elected president since the 1969 election.
For vice presidential elections, Pangasinan has voted for the winner in all elections save for 1986 and 2016.
In every general election to the National Assembly since the restoration of democracy in 1975, the electoral district of Braga has voted for the party or coalition that has won the most seats in the election. (Note that following the elections of 2015, a minority government was eventually formed by the second-largest party in the Assembly.)
The counties that voted in the first round for the winning candidate:
Since the 1987 presidential election, the central province of North Chungcheong was the one in which the most voted candidate for the presidency was the national winner.
Since democracy was restored in 1977, up to 2019- two provinces have always voted for the winning party (Zaragoza and Huesca). The Autonomous Community of Aragon, where said provinces are located. Aragon is, moreover, the sole Autonomous Community to have done so.
The expression "Som Ljungby röstar röstar Sverige" ("As Ljungby votes, Sweden votes") was coined in the early-1970s, but more recently (2006) voting results in Karlstad, Kalmar and Halmstad more closely resembled the result of the whole nation in elections to the Riksdag.
According to Statistics Sweden, election results in Karlstad have been closest to the national results for three consecutive elections, a fact often highlighted by media through Gallup Polls showing voting intentions in the area.
From the first competitive multi-party elections in 1996 on, the Changhua County was the region of Taiwan where the leading presidential candidate became the elected president of the country.
United Kingdom constituencies have been subject to frequent review since the late-1960s, particularly those of the House of Commons. Few constituencies are unchanged from one review to another. Therefore, true bellwethers are rare. However, it is possible to match new constituencies to old ones according to the destination of the bulk of the old electorate.
Long running bellwether constituencies
Former bellwether constituencies
The constituencies of Cunninghame North, Stirling and Na h-Eileanan an Iar have all elected MSPs from the party which won the plurality of seats in the election overall for every Scottish Parliament election.
Also, the constituencies of Almond Valley, Dundee City West, Edinburgh Eastern, Glasgow Southside, Kilmarnock and Irvine Valley and Mid Fife and Glenrothes each elected an MSP from the largest party in the 2011 and 2016 elections. This continues the trend that their predecessor constituencies (Livingston, Dundee West, Edinburgh East & Musselburgh, Glasgow Govan, Kilmarnock & Loudoun and Fife Central) achieved in the 1999, 2003 and 2007 elections.
The following constituencies (as of the 2016 election) have elected MSs from the party which won the plurality of seats in the election overall for every Senedd (and former Assembly) election since 1999:
Note that as Labour has won the most seats in every election since the Welsh Assembly was founded in 1999, this is a list of seats which have always voted Labour.
The states with the current longest streak of voting for the winners in the electoral college are Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin; their streaks only date back to 2008. The American bellwether states can also be determined in different ways (with respect to presidential elections):
Highest percentage for varying lengths of time
Highest percentage for a set length of time
Electoral record of the states for presidential elections, 1896–2020:
Smallest deviation from the national average
Another way to measure how much a state's results reflect the national average is how far the state deviates from the national results. The states with the least deviation from a two-party presidential vote from 1896 to 2012include:
States that were considered bellwether states from the mid-to-late 20th century until the early 21st century include:
States that were bellwether states a very long time ago include:
In addition, the Territory of Guam has had no misses from 1984 to 2012 (100.0%). Guam has no electoral college votes, but conducts a presidential straw vote on local election day. Also of note, from 1996 through 2012, Ohio was within 1.85% of the national popular vote result.Due to the Electoral College system, a bellwether of sufficient size is often also a focus of national attention and presidential campaigns as a so-called swing state that can decide the election one way or the other. As of 2016, Ohio and Florida were seen by political pundits and national campaigns as the most important swing states due to their large number of electoral votes and political volatility. No Republican has won the presidency while losing Ohio, so election results from Ohio are a good indicator of how successful that party's candidate is. However, it was generally acknowledged that the Democratic candidate tended to have a better chance of winning the presidency without Ohio and Florida. In 2000, the presidential election devolved into a controversial decision in Bush v. Gore which ultimately hinged the contest on a recount of Florida, that – had it gone for Gore – would have swung the Electoral College vote. After the 2020 election, it became clear that Ohio had begun to trend more Republican, and Joe Biden defeated the incumbent Donald J. Trump without winning Ohio or Florida. Arizona, which no Democratic candidate had won since 1996, and Georgia, which no Democratic candidate had won since 1992, both narrowly went to Mr. Biden, apparently replacing Ohio as major swing states.
The quarterly Bellwether Report, published by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), monitors trends in expenditure in the UK advertising and marketing industry.
The additional member system (AMS), also known as mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) outside the United Kingdom, is a mixed electoral system with one tier of single-member district representatives, and another tier of ‘additional members’ elected to make the overall election results more proportional.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) is a centre-right and liberal-conservative political party in Ghana. Since the democratization of Ghana in 1992, it has been one of the two dominant parties in Ghanaian politics, with its leading rival being the centre-left National Democratic Congress (NDC). John Kufuor of the NPP was President of Ghana from 2001 to 2009. At the elections held on 7 December 2004, the party won 129 out of 230 seats. The NPP candidate was Kufuor, who was re-elected as President with 52.75% of the vote. The New Patriotic Party symbol is the African elephant and the New Patriotic Party colors are red, white, and blue.
Chile holds nationwide presidential, parliamentary, regional and municipal elections.
Elections in Greece gives information on elections and election results in Greece.
Elections in Ukraine are held to choose the President, Verkhovna Rada, and local governments. Referendums may be held on special occasions. Ukraine has a multi-party system, with numerous parties in which often not a single party has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments.
Elections in Mozambique gives information on election and election results in Mozambique.
Bangladesh elects on national level a legislature with one house or chamber. The unicameral Jatiyo Sangshad, meaning national parliament, has 350 members of which 300 members are directly elected through a national election for a five-year term in single-seat constituencies while 50 memberships are reserved for the women who are selected by the ruling party or coalition. The Prime Minister is the head of the government. The president who is the head of the state is elected by the National Parliament. The president of Bangladesh is a ceremonial post and he/she does not exercise any control over the running of the state.
Elections in Cyprus gives information on election and election results in Cyprus.
Elections in Kenya take place within the framework of a multi-party democracy and a presidential system. The President, Senate and National Assembly are directly elected by voters, with elections organised by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Elections in Lithuania, are held to select members of the parliament, the president, members of the municipal councils and mayors, as well as delegates to the European Parliament. Lithuanian citizens can also vote in mandatory or consultative referendums.
Elections in Namibia determine who holds public political offices in the country. Namibia is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic. It runs direct elections every five years for the position of the president and seats in the National Assembly, and every six years for the Regional Councils and the distribution of seats in local authorities. The National Council is elected indirectly by the constituency councillors of Namibia's 14 regions.
Eastbourne is a constituency for the House of Commons of the UK Parliament. It was created as one of nine in Sussex in 1885, since when the seat has reduced in geographic size reflecting the growth of its main settlement, Eastbourne.
Dartford is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by Gareth Johnson of the Conservative Party. The constituency is currently the longest-valid 'bellwether' constituency in the country as the party of the winning candidate has gone on to form the government at every UK general election since 1964. Candidates for the largest two parties nationally have polled first and second since 1923 in Dartford.
Gravesham is a constituency in Kent represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2005 by Adam Holloway, a Conservative.
Political control of Ohio has oscillated between the two major parties. Republicans outnumber Democrats in Ohio government. The governor, Mike DeWine, is a Republican, as are all other non-judicial statewide elected officials: Lieutenant Governor of Ohio Jon A. Husted, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio State Treasurer Robert Sprague.
The Missouri bellwether is a political phenomenon that notes that the state of Missouri voted for the winner in all but one U.S. presidential election from 1904 to 2004. While states like Ohio, Nevada, Florida and New Mexico have been arguably stronger indicators of political trends in recent years, Missouri was a consistent swing state throughout the 20th century. Prior to the 2008 elections, Lincoln County, Missouri was said to be the only bellwether county in a bellwether state. Missouri was also considered a bellwether of U.S. views on hot-button social issues such as stem cell research and school vouchers. Some economists also consider the state a bellwether for economic trends such as consumer confidence and unemployment.
"As Maine goes, so goes the nation" was once a maxim in United States politics. The phrase described Maine's reputation as a bellwether state for presidential elections. Specifically, Maine's September election of a governor predicted the party outcome of the November presidential election in 22 out of the 29 presidential election years from 1820 to 1932: namely 1820–1844, 1852, 1860–1880, 1888, 1896-1908 and 1920–1932.
Following is a table of United States presidential elections in Ohio, ordered by year. Since its admission to statehood in 1803, Ohio has participated in every U.S. presidential election.
The 2020 United States presidential election in Ohio was held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, as part of the 2020 United States presidential election in which all 50 states plus the District of Columbia participated. Ohio voters chose electors to represent them in the Electoral College via a popular vote, pitting the Republican Party's nominee—incumbent President Donald Trump and his running mate, Vice President Mike Pence—against the Democratic Party nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris. Ohio has 18 electoral votes in the Electoral College.
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Political scientists have long regarded 1896 as a seminal, realigning election.