Quick Thoughts on the 2008 Election

By Harold Jansen on Oct 14, 2008

We'll be talking about the results for a few days to come, I'm sure, but here are a few quick election night thoughts.

  • Melanee Thomas was right: The NDP won Edmonton Strathcona (as of this writing with 222/223 polls reporting)! This is big from an Alberta point of view. Who would have thought we'd see the NDP win a seat in Alberta and get shut out in Saskatchewan?
  • The story was really the Liberal collapse. This is their worst showing in percentage of the popular vote in their history. This will compound the party's problems as it will also have significant financial implications for the party.
  • Dion sounded strong and defiant tonight. He's a decent guy, but he's done. The Liberals do not tolerate failure.
  • If Harper and the Conservatives couldn't do it tonight, they have to be asking if it's ever going to work. They might want to blame the economy, but Quebec cost them the election.
  • Danny Williams is amazing. He owns Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • The Greens had the biggest gain in popular vote of any party. But still no seats. BC passed Alberta as the party's strongest province. But Alberta is still strong Green territory: they had several top three finishes and even some seconds here.
  • The electoral system is bizarre! There are lots of strange outcomes. But that's a post for later in the week.
  • Good night for the NDP, although they didn't do as well in the popular vote as many of the pre-election polls suggested. They leverged it well into seats, though. It shows the wisdom in NDP targeting of seats.
  • The pre-election polls also understimated the Conservative support. I suspect part of it is due to the fact that the Conservatives have a huge advantage in identifying and getting out the vote.
  • It looks right now that voter turnout will be below 60% -- my current quick estimate has it around 59%. A combination of election fatigue (three elections in less than four and a half years) and an uninspiring campaign and set of leaders is probably responsible.

There's more to come later in the week. It's time for bed!


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Danny Williams is amazing.

Danny Williams is amazing. He owns Newfoundland and Labrador.

Personally, I don't believe there was anything particularly intelligent or inspiring about Williams ABC (Anybody But the Conservatives) campaign. Attacking the Federal government to boaster your own personal popularity is a classic maneuver used by many provincial premiers in the past. Ralph Klein honed this skill over the many years of federal Liberal governments.

Playing the provincial/federal blame game is also a great way to distract the voters from existing problems - it's always someone else's fault when something goes wrong...

However, the big difference between Danny Williams and the many other premiers who use this technique was that he made it personal. Leaving the province of Newfoundland to actively campaign against the Tories was a clear sign that Williams is no longer interested in working with others to solve Newfoundlands problems, he's more interested in taking his personal soapbox nationally.

And in the end - other than his rock-solid personal popularity in Newfoundland - what good did his campaign actually accomplish for the average Newfoundlander?

Danny Williams is amazing.

Not to mention Danny Williams' bullying tactics, reported on by Rob Fife at CTV.

Williams basically sent the message that anyone caught helping the federal conservatives would be buried in provincial politics.

Williams is far from amazing, he is an absolute boor.

Melanee was right about Edmonton Strathcona

It's not a bad thing for Alberta, either. Complacent Tory MPs in that province could use a wake-up call.

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