Kono looks on the bright side of life

Kono Taro, wunderkind Lower House member from Kanagawa, and Aso supporter, looks at the bright side of Mr. Aso’s defeat in a post at his blog:

In Saitama prefecture, with 10,055 and 10,498 votes, we lost by only a difference of 400 votes [Ed. — fuzzy math?]. If we had one won this, we would have taken three votes, giving us a total of 200, and influencing Saitama’s Nakano, Imai, and Yamaguchi.

Our predictions were exceeded considerably, and we were in good spirits. Aizawa Hideyuki-sensei [Ed. — 89, LH, Tottori 2] made a toast and joked about not saying congratulations. Someone said it was like the wake of someone who died at 100 years of age, disappointing but sufficient. Someone else said, yes, ninety-seven years of age. The Saitama three laughed bitterly.

The received votes were Aso 197, Fukuda 330.

The party member votes were Aso 65, Fukuda 76.

But the actual numbers of party members’ votes cast around the country were Aso 252,809, Fukuda 250,186. Aso won by more than 2,000 votes.

In Tokyo, Osaka, Kagawa, and Miyagi, where he made campaign stops, it was all Aso.

In Kagawa, Ehime, and Kochi, where there were no Diet members publicly supporting Aso, it was all Aso.

There were seventeen prefectures in which Aso won the vote among party members, eighteen where Fukuda won, and twelve prefectures in which party officials decided without regarding member votes.

The population of prefectures Aso won totaled 64,700,000, the population of prefectures Fukuda won totaled 37,890,000. (The remainder was 25,180,000.)

Among the ten most heavily populated prefectures, Fukuda won only fifth-ranked Saitama and seventh-ranked Hokkaido. Excluding the three votes Aso automatically won in ninth-ranked Fukuoka, seven were Aso’s (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Aichi, Chiba, Hyogo, Shizuoka).

I’m not sure how much significance one should attach to these numbers, but they do suggest that while an Aso insurgency didn’t materialize, he did find not inconsiderable support among broad swathes of the country. His support in urban areas, however, may not matter much, because the challenge in a general election is appealing to nonaligned voters — not the party rank-and-file. For the immediate task at hand, healing the party’s wounds in advance of a general election, means appealing to the rural rank-and-file, who have recently shown their willingness to desert the party.

Mr. Kono’s remarks suggest relatively little ill will, meaning that the risks of an Aso irritant within the party are pretty much nil. He will return to the fold, chastened.

But as Asahi finds in its analysis of the vote, the result among Diet members was beyond the Aso camp’s wildest dreams: “It’s a protest vote against the contemporary LDP.”

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