What Happened to Rachel Notley, Happened To Donald Trump
December 9th, 2020 | RR
The 2020 presidential election won't ever be resolved in the minds of most Trump supporters, but it's looking like Joe Biden will be sworn in next month, regardless of whether the election was “stolen” or not. If it is somehow proven that massive amounts of fraud changed the outcome, it would be historic and unprecedented in American history. Chances are, the 2020 election will fall into the same category as 9/11 and go down as a national conspiracy theory, never to be resolved. In reality, the outcome of the 2020 election is not as improbable as many Republicans would like us to think. In fact, something similar happened in Alberta in 2019.
Alberta's electoral system isn't really comparable to the American system and the electoral college, but the similarities between the 2020 presidential election and the Alberta provincial election are worth discussing. There were no allegations of widespread fraud in Alberta, but there were a series of social and economic conditions that led to an historic outcome.
The First Time Was A Fluke
We will use the word “fluke” a bit loosely here. Both Rachel Notley and Donald Trump were legitimately elected, but they were elected as unpopular candidates by a weary electorate that had few alternatives.
Once they got into office, the electorate warmed up to them and their tenures began to feel less and less abnormal. Now, many can easily foresee Donald Trump returning—and winning—in 2024. His presidency is no longer unfeasible and unrealistic. The same can be said about Rachel Notley and the NDP in Alberta. Notley built the NDP up from the gutters and made it a viable future government. Today, the NDP polls neck-and-neck with the UCP and is ready to become the next government should Jason Kenney fail.
Donald Trump received the highest number of votes for any Republican candidate and won more votes than any incumbent president in history. The Republicans gained in Congress and the GOP is well-positioned to win in 2022 and 2024. That's all because of Donald Trump.
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Although they both started out unpopular, both Trump and Notley have built viable brands and elevated their parties to new heights.
The problem with winning as an unpopular choice is how it hurts the candidate during re-election. Many Albertans were not only shocked, they were appalled when Notley won a majority. The same is true for Donald Trump—cut to the scene of the crazy leftoid screaming into the sky during his inauguration. Albertans felt the same about Notley, they just didn't express it in such a useless and unhinged way.
Notley and Trump were never supposed to win. Not ever.
For both candidates, the groundswell began building the moment they took office. “Never again,” their opponents said. Giant segments of the population made it their mission to destroy Trump and Notley from the beginning, vowing to never repeat the same mistake. They let their guards down and became complacent, but they promised to show up in droves the next time.
They kept their promises.
Perceived Mismanagement Of A Crisis
Both Notley and Trump faced unprecedented crises during their terms. Notley inherited an oil crash that started an economic meltdown in her province. Trump witnessed a global pandemic sweep across his country and trigger different reactions in every state. In both cases, the media played a significant role in heightening the hysterics. That, inevitably, created outrage among a slim majority of voters.
In Alberta, unemployment and bankruptcies were soaring. The province was bleeding badly and Notley was becoming increasingly viewed as incompetent and—to some—straight up complicit in Alberta's economic destruction.
In America, unemployment was soaring, death rates and infections were spreading and Trump was viewed by half the country as incompetent, or downright complicit. Leftist rags like Salon called daily for Trump to be charged with high crimes for refusing to take the pandemic seriously and for being directly responsible for the deaths it was causing.
Despite this, both leaders gained support from certain segments of the electorate. In the end, the groundswell against them was much, much larger than the support they were able to build.
One age-old rule held true again in both Alberta and the United States: higher voter turnout almost always spells doom for an incumbent. It happened to Harper in 2015, Liberals in 2006 and Bush in 1992. The only rare exception that comes to mind in modern times is George W. Bush in 2004, who beat John Kerry in what many consider to be a volatile time of war off the heels of 9/11. Harper also increased turnout in 2011 when he won his majority. That could have been considered another rebuke to the former Liberal government.
By November 2, more than 100 million Americans had voted by mail or absentee ballot. At that point, we should have expected Trump's fate to be sealed..
One of the arguments on the Trump side for voter fraud is the fact that Biden received more votes than both Obama and Clinton. To Trumpers, it seems impossible that Joe Biden was able to dramatically out-perform Barack Obama—who broke records in 2008. However, in reality, most of Joe Biden's voters weren't voting for him, they were voting against Trump.
The 2020 presidential election was a referendum on Trump's presidency. Some could argue that Hillary Clinton would have beat him, had she made a comeback in 2020.
Trump was able to muster so much resentment, fear and anger that it sunk his entire presidency—despite increasing his share of votes from 2016. The question that plagues the minds of Trump supporters is: how could an incumbent so dramatically increase his vote share and still lose?
"Both Notley and Trump faced unprecedented crises during their terms."
The answer is simple. Trump rallied more enemies than friends. His presidency stirred up slightly more passion on the other team than it did on his own.
In Alberta, Notley did the same thing.
Alberta is a more diverse political environment—from a party perspective—than the whole United States. Although Notley's NDP was able to expand its voter share from the previous election, the party still lost. Because there were more leftist and centrist parties in Alberta, they too were able to expand their share of the popular vote dramatically from the previous election... and still not come close to forming government.
What happened in the 2020 presidential election was not as anomalous as some might think. When we look at Alberta's election results, we see something similar. The same patterns are there, but they just appear on a more politically diverse landscape. Both Alberta and the United States saw a new candidate out-perform his opponents on a massive and historic scale—mostly due to the anger, resentment and fear that was produced by a crisis and the perceived mismanagement of the situation.
What's particularly noteworthy in Alberta is the performance of the Alberta Party, which increased its turnout by 400% from the previous election. Despite this, the party didn't win a single seat. As we know, fraud had nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with the political and economic climate at the time.
In both Alberta and the United States, voter turnout reached historic levels. In Alberta, turnout increased 10% in 2019. In the United States, it increased by 11% in 2020.
Notley added 15,000 extra votes from her majority win in 2015, but Jason Kenney's UCP performed so well that not a single party could compete. Just like Joe Biden, Jason Kenney swept to power by overwhelming the polls and capitalizing on the groundswell that built against the other team. With that said, neither candidate's efforts for re-election will be that easy ever again.
Both Trump and Notley have built solid, competitive bases—despite losing.
In the end, none of it is as strange as we think. When public outrage, anger an fear reach a tipping point, unprecedented things happen. It happened in Alberta and it happened in the United States. It wasn't fraud and it wasn't a widespread conspiracy. If you, too, were to make more enemies than friends, you're chances of dying, losing or becoming destitute would be much higher than the ordinary person. Trump had lots of enemies, Notley had lots of enemies—and history was written accordingly.
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