Below is an update on four upcoming elections in order which are New Zealand, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and United States. Also this past weekend, Vienna had an election and the Beer party got 2% of the popular vote, so for a bit of light humour, that is something I can drink to.
This coming Saturday, Kiwis go to the polls. At this point I think I can safely say Jacinda Ardern will get a second term. Yes polls are sometimes wrong, but not that wrong. Real question is does she win a majority, thus able to govern on her own or does she have to form a coalition with the Green party. My guess is latter since in both 2008, 2011, and 2014, most polls suggested National Party would win enough votes to govern on their own, but ended up falling short so for whatever reason, Kiwis don’t seem to like to hand all the power to one party. National Party is likely to have a drubbing and if they can get above 35%, that will be a good night. At same time ACT will likely crack the 5% mark thus entitling them to list seats and the combined right wing vote will probably still be around 40% meaning while National won’t win this time; they still could form government next time if they can get much of the ACT vote plus some soft Labour supporters. While I am centre-right unlike Ardern, she has handled COVID-19 quite well and the Christchurch mosque shooting. As they often say, crisis is when you can tell who is and who isn’t a leader and she clearly showed her leadership skills in both cases. Yes New Zealand had luck of being an isolated island which is probably why COVID-19 is lower than most places, but still a bad leader may have failed to contain it and thus had a much worse outbreak. And off course on the Christchurch mosque shooting, I was impressed with her ability to quickly pass comprehensive gun control laws and ban semi-automatics. That is the type of leadership needed and also glad to see National supported the ban. Too bad our Conservatives in Canada are too beholden to the gun lobby on this issue rather than doing what is right.
BC goes to the polls in 10 days and already many have voted by mail. I plan to vote in person since despite risk, I am not in contact with many people and will just social distance and wear a mask. I am doing this just in case something happens late in the campaign that causes me to change my vote. At this point, I think it is fair to say John Horgan will get the majority he wants and also fair to say Andrew Wilkinson won’t ever become premier of British Columbia. Yes some will point to 2013 polls; but there are a few major differences. In 2013, gap between NDP and BC Liberals was closing whereas this time opposite is happening. Most pollsters made lots of changes after that debacle to avoid the same mistake. My reason for believing this is Horgan has a fairly high approval rating and as a general rule in politics, people don’t elect governments; they defeat them. And clearly the desire for a change is nowhere near enough to suggest any change. Horgan has handled COVID-19 well and while I disagree with many of his decisions, he has been pragmatic and moderate enough that he has been able to win over many centrist voters who in past were reluctant to vote NDP. The BC Liberals have a very good and comprehensive platform and asides from the dumb PST cut, I support many other ideas like graduated childcare fees, choice in auto insurance, tax credit so seniors can have home care and remain in their homes longer, as well as a full review of tax system and eliminating or cutting those harmful to growth and finally plan to balance budget 5 years after vaccine is developed. But at end of day, if people like the governing party and dislike the opposition leader, that is irrelevant. Other than political junkies, few bother to read party platforms and only any really jaw dropping ideas that make front page news get out there. Wilkinson reminds me a lot of Michael Ignatieff federally; smart but no charisma, bad political judgement and doesn’t connect with people. The way he handled Jane Thornwaite after sexist remark on NDP MLA Bowinn Ma at Ralph Sultan’s roast an example of that. While I think no matter who the BC Liberals chose as leader, they would have a tough time winning. I believe choosing such an unlikeable leader made winning this election next to impossible rather than just difficult. So at this point, BC Liberals need to focus on saving the furniture. They won’t win, but they can if they have a final strong 10 days win as many as 35 seats. In particular I hope both Ellis Ross and Michael Lee hold their seats as both are potential successors. The more seats they win, the better a pool they will have for replacement candidates to take on NDP in 2024. While I haven’t said much on Green Party, I do believe Furstenau had a very good debate and was the winner so may save her seat and help the Greens a bit. Probably won’t make a huge difference but I think as long as NDP remains well ahead; I could see some who like Greens shifting to them if they are not worried about a possible BC Liberal victory.
Two days later on October 26th, Saskatchewan goes to the polls. Much like two mentioned above, its pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Saskatchewan Party is going to win a majority. Their lock on rural Saskatchewan which is more than half the seats in the province is enough alone to get them over the majority line. Any seats they win in the two main cities is just an added bonus. For NDP, their focus should be to make inroads in the two main cities and to aim for 20 seats, which will provide a stronger opposition and give them a strong foundation to work off for 2024. I will have more on my final thoughts on that one as we get closer. Debate is tonight so possible it could swing a few votes, but unless a massive knock out punch, I don’t see the dial moving much. Saskatchewan party is pretty closed to maxed out so little room to grow while NDP is so far behind that they maybe can cut lead, but would be unprecedented to actually pull ahead.
Finally last but not least is the US election in 20 days. Polls coming out suggest Biden is holding if not strengthening his lead. Trump after recovering from COVID-19 is now once again holding mass rallies which are great for spreading virus. Also for all the talk of an October surprise, already 15 million Americans have voted and with more voting early or by mail; there will be less opportunity for a late shift than in past. Haven’t followed house elections too much, but pretty confident Democrats hold the house. Real question is do they gain or lose seats. My guess is gain. Below is my update on president and then senate. At this point, I believe it is extremely likely Biden becomes next president and Trump’s chances of staging a comeback are getting slimmer and slimmer each day. Democrats are narrowly favored in the senate, but unlike presidency and house; Republicans still have a decent shot at holding the senate. If I were a Republican, that is where I would put most of the effort since if they win senate they can block most of the Biden agenda.
For President, at this point, Minnesota, Nevada, and New Hampshire are only Clinton states I could see Trump flipping, but the odds are quite low he flips any of those.
Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – Barring a polling error or late break in Trump’s favour, Biden looks poised to flip these three states.
Arizona and Florida – Biden is ahead in those two, but close enough that either a polling error or slight swing in Trump’s favour could tip those in Trump’s favour
Georgia, North Carolina, and Ohio – These are truly too close to call and could really go either way, nonetheless Trump can ill afford to lose any of these three whereas for Biden; a win in any of those three is just a bonus, not essential to winning White House. Although knowing how Trump will put up a fight claiming election was rigged; the bigger the Biden win, the smoother transition is likely to be.
Iowa and Texas – Trump is still ahead in both and I believe favored here, but it is close enough that Biden could flip both if he has a good night.
Of the seats Democrats hold, they are likely to lose Alabama while at risk in Michigan although I think odds of losing Michigan are low. All other seats they hold are not at risk.
Arizona and Colorado – Democrats are in good shape to flip both of those, in fact latter I am almost positive they flip, while former is likely, but at least Republicans still have a slight chance of holding Arizona.
Maine and North Carolina – Democrats have slight edge in both, but a Republican win is still very much a possibility here.
Iowa – This is truly a toss-up and could go either way.
Georgia, Montana, and South Carolina – At this point I still think Republicans are favored in these ones but a Democrat win in any of those is feasible. For Georgia only in regular election could I see Democrats winning not special election. For regular election, big challenge for Democrats is to get over 50% on election night in order to avoid a run off. Run offs almost always favor Republican due to lower turnout which means a whiter and older electorate.
Alaska, Georgia (special), Kansas, and Texas