Alberta is about to change, for good.
In 16 hours the polls will be closed in Alberta. The election itself will be history. (The aftermath will undoubtedly be as interesting as the campaign has been.)
As a social media neophyte, I have been fascinated to participate, and to observe the participation of others, especially via social media.
In the four days from last Thursday, April 30th to Sunday, May 3rd, this website had just over 15,000 visits, and the election related posts were viewed just over 25,000 times.
Given the nature of the messages contained in the posts, and the responding comments, I expect that voter turnout will spike tomorrow, likely exceeding 58%. There seems to be much greater acknowledgement that this is an election in which each vote can make a difference. (See the 3rd last paragraph of this post to learn the rest of my election day expectations.)
Generally speaking, getting voters to vote is a challenge for all parties, so in most campaigns the GOTV (get out the vote) aspect of the campaign is very important. Historically, the P.C. Part has had the advantage here. On May 5th, their GOTV ‘weapon’ may be one they will be reluctant to use, and if they use it, it may turn against them. GOTV only helps when you can accurately identify your voters and bring them out in greater proportion than the general turnout. Given the negative momentum of the P.C. Party I speculate that many of the voters they think they have will turn against them in the privacy of the voting booth. It will be even harder for the P.C.s to turn a GOTV effort into a net benefit if and to the extent that voter turnout is up because of a general feeling that change is in the air; that each vote is really important.
As I argued in earlier posts, Alberta has done well with untested parties forming the government in the past (1971, 1935, 1921 Should voters fear new and untested parties). Every time the government has changed in Alberta the new Premier has come to office without any prior Cabinet experience. Two out three times, the new Premier has had no previous legislative experience. All of these governments have done well enough in their first term that Albertans entrusted them with a 2nd and 3rd term. Albertans should not fear a new and untested Party forming the government.
The argument has been made that Albertans should fear an extremist government. Every voter will, of course, have their own sense of what is extreme, and their own voting boundaries. It is worth considering that extremes should be measured along three axis: moral extremism, ideological extremism, and functional extremism. There is nothing in the campaign of any of the major parties that causes me to fear they are moral or ideological extremists – although some candidates fall outside my comfort zone, either to the left or the right.
But in terms of political rhetoric and hyperbole, extremism is relative and circumstantial. To-day’s N.D.P., for example, is only proposing to do some of the things that Alberta’s first P.C. Premier did 40 years ago.
On the other hand, as I have argued in other posts (the party is getting out of hand – the P.C. party, that is; the P.C. Party – a many-headed hydra), the current P.C. Party is functionally extremist to the extent that their extremism as been at the centre of most of the campaign. They are extremely out of touch, and they have provided extremely poor government; they are extremely arrogant and morally flexible; they feel extremely entitled, and they are extremely beholden to the 1%.
Tomorrow, every vote will count, in almost every constituency across the province. The tide is going out for the P.C. Party. In some constituencies the Wild Rose Party is the beneficiary, and conservative votes will coalesce around them. In other constituencies, the N.D.P. is the beneficiary and progressive votes will coalesce around them.
I expect the N.D.P. to win the greatest number of seats in tomorrow’s election, with a majority government or close to it. I will be interested to learn which party is 2nd (about 10 seats behind the N.D.P.) and 3rd. I expect to see Greg Clark elected in Calgary Elbow, and the Alberta Party will likely be the 4th party in the next Alberta Legislature, with more than one seat. Look for the Liberals to be decimated.
This is the election to vote with hope, with courage, and for character.
On May 5th, Albertans can break the very model of old-style politics, perhaps forever.