Year in Review

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.

4 thoughts on “Year in Review

  1. Miles I think your political analysis of 2020 was as astute as possible in a wildly chaotic year. You did predict Biden’s likely win by late Fall is my recollection. I do hope in 2021 that more good journalism is spent more on digging deep into the factors leading to Trumpism and far far less on the worst and thankfully soon past American President of the last century himself. Trump is as we know a master at grabbing the spotlight, but I think the public needs to better understand the issues we need to address to prevent a future repeat of Trump in smarter packaging. I really believe that we need to support good journalism to get that digging done and published, if we hope to see democracy thrive in the Western World. While you don’t call yourself a journalist, what I appreciate about your posts is that you are transparent about the facts you use to provide your predictions and opinions. And thank heavens your prediction about Biden being the favorite by later Fall turned out to be right!

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    1. I think there is some good journalism on what led to Trump, but I also think problem is people have short attention spans and its not something you can explain in 10 second sound bytes. In addition I don’t think defeating Trumpism is as easy as some think. Many blame high levels of inequality, and there is some truth in that, but any policies to tackle that means bigger government which people in rural America absolutely loathe so idea US moving further left will help solve this is something I am very skeptical of. I actually think whenever you have big changes in society, groups feeling their power being reduced tend to get angry and vote for extremes. And for white males without a college degree, they don’t have the same unearned privilege they used to. Now its good more women and minorities are getting opportunities, but many whites used to unearned privilege are sadly pushing back and I am not sure how you prevent this. The old way didn’t work, but I am thinking any transition is always going to be messy and its more once everyone regardless of race and gender having equal chance becomes the norm, this will settle down.

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      1. It depends on what you mean by “left”. Better social and health policy does not necessarily have to cost more. There are plenty of places the US could save money and/or reallocate funds to create more health and social equity….

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        1. It still likely involves bigger government or at least some at first and US unlike Canada has a very strong libertarian bent, especially in rural areas and so fear of socialism or bigger government works much better there than it does in Canada.

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