Was fear of social conservatism the only possible explanation for the meltdown? Does this hypothesis make sense for the most ‘small-c’ conservative province in Canada? Does this theory (which by the way is not grounded in exit polling data but mere conjecture) make sense for what has been called part of “Canada’s Bible Belt”?
There is a more likely explanation for the meltdown, but one which the mainstream media is loath to acknowledge. Polling data suggests that Danielle Smith seriously alienated her natural base of social conservative and religious voters when she began to publicly reject pro-life and pro-family views in early April and ultimately announced, “I’m pro-choice and pro-gay marriage” on April 10th. It was a slap in the face to traditional values voters. Many so-cons probably decided then that since the Wildrose party would not provide a home for them, they in turn, would stay home on voting day, or even to vote for the devil they knew.
If you combine that with a higher voter turnout, that could explain the loss.
Did any Alberta so-cons out there decide to stay home on election day because of this? Did anyone decide not to volunteer to get out the vote?
It is a bit ridiculously to say that social conservatism killed the election when Alberta regularly sends so-con MP's to Ottawa.
Danielle Smith should have learned a lesson from Rob Ford’s campaign for Mayor of Toronto. As a candidate, Ford was similarly attacked in 2010 by his pro-homosexual opponents and the pro-homosexual media, over his belief in the traditional definition of marriage. The contempt they poured out on him was vitriolic. But unlike Smith, Ford did not react by apologizing for his principles, or by appearing to run away from them. That would have deflated his critical base of so-con support and quite possibly cost him the election.
Instead, he very calmly and simply responded “I support traditional marriage. I always have”. When the media kept badgering him, he very consistently repeated it calmly and unapologetically. In the end, Ford confounded all his critics and won the election by a large margin, defeating the openly-homosexual George Smitherman who was a media darling.
In other words, he didn't panic.
Here’s the point that Smith didn’t get. In order to lead a small-c conservative movement to victory, you need the social conservative branch of that movement to show up at the ballot box (even if you don’t agree with them). By alienating ‘values voters’, demoralizing them, and causing them to stay home on Election Day, it’s very difficult to win.
The thing, Stephen Harper alienates so-cons all the time, and he has a majority government.
I think people will vote in so-cons as long as they're not "scary". Rob Ford is not scary. Federal so-con MP's are not scary. The guy who said gays will burn in a lake of fire was branded as "scary." The guy who said whites had an advantage (which any socialist would admit is true) was scary.
There are scary so-cons and non-scary so-cons. Just like there are scary social liberals and non-scary social liberals.