15 days until US election

Below is an update on the four elections I have been following. First on the New Zealand election results, then BC election this Saturday, then Saskatchewan election in a week from now, and finally US election in 15 days.

New Zealand voted this past Saturday and to no one’s surprise Jacinda Ardern was re-elected. The big question is would she get a majority or not. Considering New Zealand uses MMP rather than FTFP, getting a majority is a lot more difficult there than it is in Canada. And she did indeed get a majority which is the first time any party has achieved this since New Zealand switched to MMP in 1996. While she fell a bit short of 50%; once parties that got under 5% were excluded, that was enough to put Labour over the top. Question is will she govern on her own or will she invite Greens to join so as to maintain good relations as its unlikely next time around Labour will win a majority again. Looking at each party, it looks like Labour slightly outperformed polls while National massively underperformed. Some have suggested that some soft National supporters strategically voted Labour as they didn’t want a Labour-Green coalition as such coalition would be more left wing than a Labour majority. Ardern is very much a moderate and pragmatists whereas Greens are much more ideologically on the left. ACT has made it into parliament getting over 5% so no doubt they are National’s potential coalition partner should two parties get majority of seats next time, while New Zealand First is out. With party largely being centered around one leader, Winston Peters, I suspect this is the last we’ve seen of them. While centre-right myself, I believe Ardern’s strong handling of COVID-19 as well as Christchurch mosque shooting has earned her a second term. At same time second term is going to be a lot more difficult than first. A majority gives her more leeway, but I suspect there will be battles between moderates who want to hold onto all the traditional National votes they picked up and more left wing elements who want to use this once in a lifetime opportunity to radically reshape the country. I believe Ardern will go for former and that is the right thing to do.

In BC, much of the focus seems to be on gotcha moments and less on policy. No doubt Wilkinson’s poor handling of Throness is very disappointing. BC Liberals unlike other centre-right parties in Canada have largely avoided plague of social conservatives playing too big a role in the party and its unfortunate party has gone backwards here. Reality is views like Throness make the party unelectable in Lower Mainland so hopefully after election party will move to rid itself of social conservatives. At same time Nathan Cullen in NDP has come under fire for his remarks in respect to First Nations. In terms of policy, asides from PST cut (which I think is completely stupid and ill advised), most of the BC Liberals’ policies are fairly good. But at same time party badly needs a major make over. Wilkinson is a leader of the past, not future so I will not in anyway be sad when he loses. I feel party is too much operating like its 2001, not 2020 and you don’t win elections by being party of past, you win by being party of future. Also with Horgan being fairly moderate, it appears much of the federal Liberal vote that used to vote BC Liberal has swung over to NDP so party can no longer bank on this group voting BC Liberal out of fear of an NDP government. While I will probably vote BC Liberal (more on this, this coming Saturday), I won’t be upset if they lose. Party has not learned from its defeat and clearly needs more time in the wilderness. At same time, I hope BC Liberals form a strong opposition so there are more candidates to chose from in terms of successor for Wilkinson and also so NDP doesn’t get too carried away. If BC Liberals can get 35 seats (which is the best case scenario I see now), they will be in good shape to win in 2024 and also NDP will probably be careful not swing too hard to left. By contrast if they fall below 20 seats (which is very possible), it will mean limited selection for replacement and also embolden NDP to enact more radical left wing policies which would be bad for BC. Some BC Liberal supporters I have talked with still think party can win, but reality is they cannot. This is not 2013 where party was closing the gap (if anything opposite has happened) as well as usually governments only change when party in power has a negative approval rating, which is not the case either. So unlike some BC Liberals, I have accepted reality which is BC Liberals are not going to win and NDP will get their majority. But I still think is unknown whether it will be an NDP landslide or a more narrow majority.

For Saskatchewan, it seems once again Saskatchewan party is cruising to a solid majority. Real question here is can NDP make inroads in urban ridings or will Saskatchewan Party win another landslide. For NDP, their goal should be to win majority of seats in Saskatoon and Regina and get around 20 seats overall, which is probably the most optimistic outcome for them. For Ryan Meili, if he gets under 15 seats, he is probably gone as leader, 15-20 hard to say, while over 20 seats he is safe. Moe is going to be re-elected so much like BC real question is more just how big Saskatchewan Party majority is, not whether they get one or don’t. I will before next Monday give my endorsement and final thoughts here.

For US, polls once again steady as she goes. Also with over 30 million votes already casts, there is less opportunity for major changes to happen as those votes are already locked in. This means for Biden camp, it is not over, but their odds of winning are very good now. For Trump camp, time is running out and in order to win they need both a polling error and tightening. One of the two won’t be enough. Yes Trump still has a narrow path to victory, but it is a very narrow path and every day he remains behind; his chances of winning re-election get slimmer and slimmer. At this point, I would argue the real battle is who wins senate as that is still very much up for grabs. More importantly, if Democrats can get at least 52 seats, they have a very good chance of holding senate until at least 2024 due to a favorable map in 2022. As well as this will make Biden implementing his agenda easier since if 50-50; you only need one Democrat senator to break ranks and on many bills that is quite likely to happen. For Republicans, I would say unless their internals are a lot rosier, they should focus more on senate race than race for White House as winning that or house seems very unlikely. But winning the senate will mean they can severely limit the type of policies Biden can pass. My hope is Democrats win a landslide as that will force GOP to purge Trumpism whereas in a narrow win they likely won’t and their nominee in 2024 will likely be Trump like (heck maybe Trump will run again). Since Biden is a moderate, I am not too worried about US going to radical left. And never mind if US were a bit more left wing, that might hurt left in Canada. After all, much of left’s success in Canada has been taking American issues and assuming we have similar problems in Canada when we do not. If US is able to deal with those problems, left will lose that card which will help Conservatives here. Yes people like Bernie Sanders and AOC are too far to the left for my liking, but I think Biden knows this and he will be careful not to stray too far to left.

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