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May 6th, 2015

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Doing the arithmetic in the Alberta election was the easy part, but fully absorbing the math of it all is surely more difficult for both federal and provincial conservatives today.

One provincial seat (Calgary-Glenmore) was left in a PC-NDP tie after last night's unofficial tallies, which under Alberta election laws could result in an instant by-election call. And of course Premier Jim Prentice resigned the seat he had just won in Calgary-Foothills within hours of the polls being closed, so between the two of those seats, we could be into two by-elections in very short order.

But that still leaves:

  • the NDP with 53 of 87 seats in Alberta (and tied in a 54th), earned with a 40.6% vote-share
  • the Wildrose with 21 seats on a 24.2% vote-share, and
  • the PCs having won or tied in 11 seats last night, but with a higher vote-share than their rural brethren at 27.8%
  • the Liberals and Alberta Party held or picked up one seat each, earning 4.2% and 2.3% of the vote respectively.

Preliminary estimates of turnout put it at 57%, the highest in an Alberta provincial general election since it reached 60.2% in 1993, or 66% in 1982. This provides support for the hypotheses that turnout increases when the government changes, and/or there's a real choice between viable alternatives, and/or the result is expected to be close.

And close it was.

  • 18 of the 87 seats were settled by less than 5% of the vote (and 43 by less than 10%)
  • 34 of the 87 ridings had spreads of less than 15% between the winner and 3rd place finisher – my usual definition of a three-way race.
  • 4 of the 87 even met the criteria of a 4-way race (spread of less than 25% between first and fourth place)
    • The 2 Calgary seats being vacated by outgoing provincial Liberal MLAs who have since been nominated federally: i) Kent Hehr's old riding of Calgary-Buffalo where his replacement David Khan placed third behind the NDP and PCs; and ii) Darshan Kang's old riding of Calgary-McCall where his replacement Avinash S. Khangura placed fourth behind the NDP, Wildrose and PCs. Both Liberals had received the strategic voting "best chance to beat a PC" endorsement of the Change Alberta project, notably.
    • Grande Prairie-Wapiti where PC incumbent Wayne Drysdale can thank a strong Alberta Party candidate for his ability to fend off the NDP, and
    • Red Deer North, where Liberal candidate Michael Dawe placed a strong fourth (note that he also received the Change Alberta strategic voting endorsement). Readers may remember him being in the news during the Nepal earthquake when his wife was thought for a time to have gone missing.

Now, interestingly, turnout did not increase to the same extent across the province. It was up by 5 points in the Edmonton seats overall, and 5.5 points in the so-called "Rest of Alberta", but Calgary only posted a 1 point hike in turnout, in spite of boasting some of the closest races of the night. Drilling down a bit further, however, more of the turnout gains came in the parts of Calgary that showed seat turnovers to the NDP: the central and south-eastern portions. This will be an interesting area for study once the detailed results can be studied.

Where the electoral math starts to get really hard, is for the federal Conservatives. The Prime Minister's current riding of Calgary Southwest contains the tied riding of Calgary-Glenmore, along with Calgary-Lougheed and bits of Calgary-Fish Creek which both stayed PC, plus bits of Calgary-Acadia and Calgary-Shaw which went NDP. His new riding of Calgary Heritage is roughly the same.

Jason Kenney's current riding of Calgary Southeast likewise stayed mostly PC, but with the other parts of now-NDP-held Calgary-Acadia and Calgary-Shaw. However, his new riding of Calgary-Midnapore has less PC and more NDP area-wise. A fuller analysis is needed.

The folks who are waking up to opposition provincial counterparts today are MP Joan Crockatt who is nominated in the new Calgary Centre, newly-nominated federal candidate Len Webber in Calgary Confederation, MP Devinder Shory in Calgary Skyview, Deepak Obhrai in Calgary Forest Lawn, and even much of Michelle Rempel's new riding of Calgary-Nose Hill.

That's on top of ALL of Edmonton, PLUS the surrounding seats in Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, Sturgeon River, Leduc, etc.

Then there are the rural and northern seats like Yellowhead, Peace River-Westlock, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Red Deer.

The Alberta electoral math has just had some new assumptions added in to it, but that just makes more for interest by political junkies everywhere. Thank you, Wildrose Country.

10 Responses to “The difficult math of the Alberta provincial election results”

  1. Shadow says:

    Any analysis that NDP winning provincial seats = CPC danger is faulty. Federally the opposition vote is split, provincially its the conservatives that are split.

    Interested only in seats where NDP won absolute majority of vote !

  2. CalgaryGrit says:

    I did a really crude transpose, and it looks to me like the NDP+Lib vote was over 50% in Calgary Centre, Calgary Confed, Lethbridge, and all of Edmonton. Who that benefits federally will likely vary riding to riding, but you’d have to think those would be the ridings where CPC is most vulnerable (at least long term).

  3. You can also see wide variation in advance voter turnout, I have meant to look at more closely, but certainly the trend mirrored closely to the seats the NDP won had higher (or very high) advance turnout

  4. The question for me about Alberta is the following, is Rachel Notley Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan in 1944 or Bob Rae in Ontario in 1990. I am currently leaning Douglas in ’44 and no not think a 10 to 12 year term in office is not out of the question for Notley

  5. Observant says:

    If Albertans are truly shrewd they will not vote NDP in the federal election because that would mean they are putting their welfare into the hands of another PM from the nation-province of Quebec, and we all know how that went historically with PET, Mulroney, Chretien, Martin… all lawyers and all Quebec-first.

    Liberals are dead in Alberta so the only shrewd choice is CPC thus balancing political power between Alberta and Ottawa. A Quebec-Ontario-centric NDP government in Ottawa would likely rape Alberta even more so than they are doing now. Albertans will want one of their own in Ottawa, and that’s Stephen.

    Looking into the future, Mulcair will now eviscerate pauvre Justin between now and election day with the Alberta feather in his quebecois chapeau…!!! (The real conservatives in AB are the Wildrose Party.)

  6. Art Cramer says:

    Away for 4 years since the 2011 and Harper Con supporters are still complaining about how hard done by Alberta is by Eastern Canada. How can nothing have changed regarding this in 4 years? There’s a reason I’ve stayed away and this is it. You always do such a great job Alice, but I think I’ll keep staying away. Sad.

  7. Shadow says:

    Bernard its way too soon to even guess at what kind of government Notley will run. The cabinet will give some initial hints and then the budget.

    However, if the right is united in Alberta its hard to see a progressive government lasting. PC+WRP = 52%, NDP = 41%. Even without a formal negotiated merger lack of corporate cash and no grassroots enthusiasm is going to turn PC into a rump party that will atrophy into nothing (think Alberta Liberal Party) leaving a straight WRP vs NDP fight.

  8. Shadow says:

    Pollsters and those silly seat projector sites didn’t have a great night either. Almost all underestimated PC by around 5%, overestimated NDP by the same.

    Less commanding NDP win then pollsters predicted, overwhelming seat win had more to do with the way the votes split.

  9. Observant says:

    Dear Art: I apologize if I’ve hurt your feeelings with my forward casting comments but that’s me; I like to prognosticate about the future based on current trends to see if my guessing is right. So far I’ve been wrong but I still enjoy crafting future strategy and I invite you to stick out your chicken neck and join me in crystal ball gazing ….. based on Alice’s great analysis of historical events …. “historians” — people who think backwards… ;)

  10. Art Cramer says:

    Observant, sigh. Have a nice day .

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