First and foremost, I would like to congratulate the Progressive Conservatives on their victory in yesterday’s provincial election. This was a hard fought victory, and candidates from all parties put a ton of time and effort into getting their messages out to constituents. In this post, I am not advocating for any of the mentioned parties.
According to The Globe & Mail’s final tally, the PC Party won 61 seats, followed by the Wildrose with 17, Liberals 5, and NDP 4.
Of course, the seat totals make this victory look like a landslide. The popular vote shows a different story. Here is the breakdown in popular vote versus 2008:
PC: 43.9% (-8.8%)
WRP: 34.3% (+27.5%)
LIB: 9.9% (-16.5%)
NDP: 9.8% (+1.3%)
As this tally shows, the PC and Liberal parties lost significant support, with the Wildrose picking up steam over the past four years. Over that time, a chunk of the PC base became significantly disenfranchised with what seemed to be a more moderate PC party under Ed Stelmach. With Alison Redford winning the nomination by a slim margin, those who did not want another moderate in charge cemented their decision to move to the Wildrose Party. So with WRP picking up almost 27.5% of the vote despite voter turnout up only a couple percentage points, the question at the end of this election: how did the PC’s still maintain victory?
It’s simple, and if you ask many perennial left-wing voters who they voted for this election, you will have your answer: strategic voting. A massive chunk of liberal voters (and even some typical NDP voters) became fearful of what an Alberta run by a very right-wing party would legislate. The true victory came from the blog posts about “conscience rights”, which spread like wildfire and soon got the left-wing base fearful. The PC base might argue that it was hard work and determination that won this election, but let’s be honest. Hard work and determination occurs every election. Most politicians will work their hardest during campaign season. Going door-to-door, speaking with their constituents personally, night in and night out. This story was everywhere, and it won the election for one party while losing it for another.
Simply put – at the end of the day, the fear of social regression, even in Alberta, was enough to keep the Wildrose out of leadership. Consider it the reverse “John Kerry”. While this was a PC victory, it should be taken as a wake-up call. Relying on left-wingers to prop up a party is not a long-term campaign strategy.
Congratulations to Alison Redford on her victory. No matter what party you support, we all wish for a better, stronger Alberta; even if there isn’t consensus on the road travelled to get there.