Tonight New Brunswick will vote while in 50 days it is US election. Below are my thoughts on both. First I will start with New Brunswick election and then onto US election.
For New Brunswick, Higgs called an early one in order to try to win a majority. I believe with pandemic despite New Brunswick having relatively few cases; this was a mistake. Too many places are seeing spikes thus unless an election is scheduled, I believe minority governments should try to avoid them (I am looking at you Trudeau and Horgan, bad idea to call an election). Unlike other provinces, New Brunswick has been lucky in that there have been almost no cases, but I don’t think BC or the federal government can say same thing. In terms of what I think will happen, I believe a narrow PC majority is most likely outcome. At the beginning, a PC majority looked like an almost near certainty, but in final week polls tightened a fair bit meaning while PCs still heavily favoured to win popular vote and most seats, a majority is far from a sure thing. That being said, linguistic divides are massive in New Brunswick so PCs would need a pretty solid lead before making big gains in seats and likewise need to be trailing by a decent margin before at risk of winning fewer seats than Liberals. Also as an added bonus, their vote skews heavily towards older voters and also doing better amongst those who have already voted in advanced polls suggesting they have a better chance of outperforming polls than underperforming. Liberals under Vickers have been underwhelming so should do well in Francophone areas but little traction in Anglophone areas. What is interesting is the left vs. right split hasn’t changed much since 2018; all that has happened is many People’s Alliance supporters have swung over to PCs, while Greens have gained mostly at expense of Liberals. Green party has seen a late surge and with some polls showing them around 20%, they should have a good night, but its more long term where they have reason for optimism. Most polls show Greens in first amongst millennials suggesting that even if they only win a few seats tonight, their long term prospects look quite bright. People’s Alliance will be lucky to hold the seats they have now as it appears much of their support has swung over to PCs although some signs they have rebounded a bit towards the end. Perhaps as public was more confident PCs would win, some of their supporters returned. Below my predictions are:
PCs 26 seats (38%)
Liberals 18 seats (29%)
Greens 4 seats (18%)
PANB 1 seat (6%)
In terms of what I want: I favour a PC majority. While disappointed Higgs went for an early election, I believe his steady as she goes is what is needed during these tough times. He has shown steady competent leadership and therefore deserves a majority and 4 years to help New Brunswick navigate through these difficult times. Still once pandemic ends, tough choices will need to be made. New Brunswick with its aging population and outmigration is in a bad spot and won’t easily be turned around. It is time for bold policies to encourage both more Canadians and immigrants to settle in New Brunswick as well as find ways to encourage young people to stay and not move westward. With more working remotely, I believe there are opportunities here and government should either through tax system or incentives find ways to encourage more to come to New Brunswick and those already there to stay. This will be key since if young people are leaving and new people aren’t coming, you will have large senior population costing health care more without the tax base to fund it. He should also push hard to Energy East pipeline and likewise allow for fracking as both will create opportunities.
Turning to the US, polls are mixed showing Biden still ahead nationally, but some tightening in some states. At this point, Biden looks in decent shape to hold all states Hillary Clinton did but would like to see more polling for Minnesota, Nevada, and New Hampshire as well as even Maine. Also probably good to poll Colorado and Virginia just in case even though pretty sure Biden has decent leads in both. Michigan still looks reasonably good while Wisconsin despite being reddest of the blue wall states Trump breached; Biden has decent lead. Some tightening in Pennsylvania but others show him well ahead, but either way at moment looks good for Biden. Still even in those three, there is enough time Trump could pull ahead, but clock is ticking and with many already receiving ballots, his opportunity to win those three is narrowing. Probably best news for Trump is Florida where he has cut margin dramatically and Biden only narrowly ahead. That is not a surprise as Florida usually votes slightly to right of country and also tends to be fairly evenly split down the middle. Biden’s bigger lead was likely due to DeSantis’ botched handling of COVID-19 earlier, but with cases coming down somewhat, I am guessing some white seniors who usually voted GOP are coming back. In Arizona, however Biden still seems to be in good shape. North Carolina and Ohio look like tossups although not a lot of polls in the latter. However, Ohio is no longer a key state anyways. Biden could win Ohio, but doesn’t need to and if he does win it, he already has the White House anyways. Its not like 2004 where it was the make or break state for Democrats, its more a sign whether it will be a close election if Trump wins it or Biden landslide if Biden wins it. Georgia, Texas, and Iowa still look in favour of Trump but surprising how little polling there is in Iowa. It would be nice if they did more since while not a key state in race for White House, it could be a key player in determining who controls senate. Also of the 4 congressional districts there, 3 are quite competitive and Democrats currently hold those three.
With votes already being mailed out, Trump may have 50 days left, but a good chunk will be cast much sooner. I suspect in 20 days time, several million votes will already be cast while probably over 1/3 will be in under 30 days time and over half in under 40 days time. This means Trump actually has even less time to turn things around as more votes will already be locked in well before election day. Also on election night, how states go individually could determine if we get an answer or not. Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio all count early ballots well before polls closing and release shortly after so unless in recount territory we should get calls on those four on election night. If Biden is winning one or all of those, good chance we know on November 3rd before Midnight on West Coast that he will be next president. By contrast Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania don’t start counting until election day and unless state legislatures change that, could take several days before we know who wins those. Now if Biden wins Florida and either Arizona or North Carolina it won’t matter. Likewise if he wins Ohio, we can safely assume he will win those three as they are rust belt states like Ohio, but around 5 points to left of it. In fact even if Trump wins Ohio by only 1 or 2 points, we can probably safely conclude Biden has won election even though networks may not be able to call it and no doubt Trump will whip up a twitter storm on how he has win and mail in voting too subject to fraud. At this point, I still think Biden is favoured, but its not over and Trump still has a chance, but window is narrowing. Nate Silver is not showing Biden’s lead growing yet his odds of winning are increasing. That is simply because if you have a 7 point deficit, closer the election gets, less time you have to overcome it. For senate, not a lot of polls but at this point still looks like a tossup. GOP should gain Alabama but unless something dramatic changes not likely to gain any other states. Democrats look pretty certain to pick up Colorado and Arizona. Maine, North Carolina, and Iowa still in tossup so Democrats need 2 of 3 to win senate. Montana also competitive but haven’t seen a lot of polling there of late. Georgia and South Carolina look more like long shots.
UPDATE: PCs have won a majority in New Brunswick so Blaine Higgs will be premier for next four years. My thoughts on this are Liberals actually vote wise did better than expected but very concentrated in Francophone parts. People’s Alliance surprisingly did better than I thought and combined right wing vote looks like it will be around 48-49%. Nonetheless, very large linguistic divides. Still a good result for New Brunswick overall. At this point, I think a BC election is even more likely. At same time, COVID-19 much worse here so Horgan may get his majority, but I believe greater risk of a backlash for an early call. Still think BC NDP majority is likely, but I think their chances would be even better if they waited until next year. I will off course have more on that if and when an election is called here.