Big surprise in Alberta .. Danielle Smith not necessary … Alison Redford wins

Apr 23rd, 2012 | By | Category: In Brief

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 11:45 PM ET/9:45 PM MT. So … Every now and then voters decide to ignore what one Alberta commentator has called “the media narrative,” and the opinion polls,  and even the obscure hasty opinions of aging bloggers from another planet such as myself. They vote against what all the chattering classes and alleged experts are saying – and restore our collective faith in a democracy that really can deliver surprises at election time.

The headline on the Canadian Press report from an hour or so ago sums up what happened in the Alberta provincial election today : “Tories re-elected with majority in Alberta … Alberta not going wild: Tories defy polls and win majority.”

Just yesterday, at 10:00 AM the Globe and Mail in Toronto was reporting: “Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party is poised for a sweeping majority in Monday’s Alberta election, the latest poll says … The poll, conducted by Forum Research Inc., shows Wildrose maintaining a wide lead over the Progressive Conservatives, with 41 per cent of voters backing the party compared to the PC’s 32 per cent. It’s a wider gap than what was found by another major poll earlier this week.”

In fact, a very last poll by the same firm, did begin to catch the last-minute shift in voter intentions. It found Wildrose going down to 38% and Ms. Redford’s PC s rising to 36%. But it was still reporting that “Wildrose is set to secure a slim majority, picking up 44 of 87 seats in the house.” There was another burst of movement to election day.

The final results are still not entirely clear. But, tentatively and in round numbers, the PCs have taken about 44% of the vote, compared to a mere 35% for the Wildrose Alliance (and 10% for the NDP,  9% for the Liberals, and 2% for everyone else. The PCs will have in the neighbourhood of 60 seats in the Alberta legislature, the Wildrose less than 20, and the New Democrats and Liberals three or four each. [UPDATE APRIL 24, 11 AM ET / 9 AM MT: The final results are: Progressive Conservatives: 61 seats (43.9%) ;  Wildrose Party: 17 seats (34.3%) ; Liberals: 5 seats (9.9%) ;  NDP: 4 seats (9.8%).]

This result certainly makes a great deal of what I had to say yesterday in “Danielle Smith if necessary in Alberta on April 23 .. but not necessarily Canada’s Sarah Palin (or worse)” off the mark. My wife says I should console myself with the thought that (almost?) everyone else  – and even the general “media narrative” – got things wrong as well. And I intend to do just that!  Meanwhile, what the big surprise shows, I think, is that Alberta really has changed. A lot of new people have moved to Canada’s oil-boom province over the past several years. Apparently a lot of people who have lived there all their lives have also been changing their minds. The Wildrose Alliance was appealing to an older Alberta. It can still command somewhat more than a third of the province-wide popular vote. But that is not enough to win a provincial election. People in the part of the country I live in, I am also told, ought to be happy about all this. And secretly, I suppose I am!

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