No one cannot say 2020 was a dramatic year. Back in January when making predictions, I don’t think many thought we would be thrown into a global pandemic in 2 months that would upend our whole lives. Politically my predictions were still not that bad but definitely some things turned out a bit differently. Tomorrow I will make my 2021 political predictions.
This year, the pandemic changed many things. On deficit front, jurisdictions around the world saw deficits that would have been unthinkable at beginning of year but necessary due to severe nature of the crisis. Many events including even seeing family and friends, we had to cancel and certain sectors be it airlines or restaurants took a hit no one would have thought imaginable. Although many have tried their best to find creative ways to hang in until things return to normal. But as we close out 2020, a vaccine is on the horizon and we have reason to be optimistic that while 2021 may be a rough start, the ending should be much better.
Other political changes is masks and social distancing which should be non-partisan issues became partisan, particularly in US showing that even the worst pandemic in a century cannot bring a bitterly divided country together. By contrast in Canada, you generally saw more cooperation between governments of all political stripes although a fringe minority, especially in second wave opposed restrictions.
COVID-19 both helped and harmed governments based on response. They often say unexpected not expected defines one’s leadership and this year definitely showed that. Ford in Ontario who appeared to be a dead man walking came back and at least prior to recent issue with Rod Philips vacationing in Caribbean, he had a high approval rating and re-election looked fairly secure. John Horgan went from narrow lead to massive lead and couldn’t resist temptation to call early election which he won big time. Trudeau saw his numbers improve, but then partially fall back. Kenney by contrast who focused more on economy than saving lives took a big hit and is now trailing in polls. Indeed outside Prairies, pandemic has helped most premiers in polls, been neutral in Saskatchewan, but hurt both Kenney and Pallister. Good news for those two is still have until 2023, but fact a conservative premier in Canada’s most conservative province is in bigger trouble than conservative ones in much less conservative provinces is telling. Unlike US, people seem to here care about how you handle it and we aren’t so divided into our silos that we always support our guy and oppose other.
Looking abroad, COVID-19 helped Jacinda Ardern win a majority, which has never happened since New Zealand switched to MMP. Back in January she was trailing in polls and risk of being a one term wonder was real. But thanks to her strong handling of the crisis, it helped her win a landslide. By contrast in UK, Johnson had a big lead at first, but now is in a statistical tie with Labour, although part of that could be Labour changing from a very unpopular leader to more likeable one. In US, I had predicted a narrow Trump re-election back in January with only Michigan and Pennsylvania flipping. Ironically my January prediction was closer to final result than November one (I got Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia wrong there) and of the three states I got wrong in January, all three were won by Biden by less than 1% which suggests to me without COVID-19 Trump would have won those. Indeed, COVID-19 provided a strong reset and governments like Doug Ford who handled it well benefitted, but ones who blundered like Trump suffered. Trump only came as close as he did as US is so polarized that there aren’t that many voters up for grabs.