Lets start with everyone's favourite and most hated group....
|Beaming that evil Machiavellian smile. EVIIILLL!|
Yes, no matter how much I patently dislike her, it is extremely obvious that last night's winner was Andrea Horwath's New Democrats, who picked up two seats in southwestern Ontario, a region where their future success will be made or broken, while also placing third in every riding including a close third in Scarborough-Guildwood with the thoroughly discredited Adam Giambrone (no, he is not "rehabilitated").
The NDP managed to win big in Windsor-Tecumseh, picking up 61.3% of voters on a huge 28-point swing towards them from the Liberals, who dropped to a sad third place behind the PC candidate who managed to repeat his 2011 performance almost exactly. Percy Hatfield, a former Windsor City Councilor with a relatively strong level of popularity, was able to wipe out his opposition on the back of apparent popular anger towards the Liberals in this traditionally NDP riding, which only flipped back in 1999 because of Dwight Duncan's presence on the ballot, that much is very clear by now. Teresa Piruzza, the next-door Liberal MPP in Windsor West, must be shaking in her boots, as I have some serious doubts about her ability to withstand an NDP assault without Duncan around.
Yet the biggest win of the night wasn't Windsor-Tecumseh, as everyone knew in which direction it was heading. The big fight won tonight by the NDP was in London West, where their candidate Peggy Sattler rode a wave of voters to a big win over the PC and Liberals. While we can never be entirely certain what happened, its actually amazing a lot of politicos didn't necessarily expect such a blowout, as there was a perfect storm surrounding this riding. The Liberal candidate, Ken Coran, was completely discredited as a force right from the get-go, and wouldn't put up much of a fight; the PCs remained an unpopular option with no star candidate to back them up, allowing the chance for anti-PC voters to coalesce around the NDP comfortably; and the fact is the NDP have been on a continued upward swing in southwestern Ontario, and London is a natural target for them.
Like Kitchener-Waterloo, it really remains to be seen if this is the kind of riding that will stay orange in a general election.
Though her party didn't really come close anywhere else, Horwath can be pretty proud of last night's results. Voters handed her party huge swings in two ridings where the NDP needed to grow in order to show they have the credibility to win not just a lot of seats, but government. And you can bet she'll use the momentum she's gathered from all the positive press of these wins as a bargaining chip with the Liberals, or maybe even force an election and take her chances running on a "I'm the lesser of three evils" platform which, in this day and age, unfortunately has a lot of appeal. Don't be surprised to see the NDP climb the province-wide polls in the coming days, even to first place.
Lets move on to the more unfortunate crew that I'm apart of...
|Hudak's expression is hilarious, unfortunately his footnote in history won't be.|
Kathleen Wynne's Liberals, who held all five of these ridings beforehand with +10% margins of victory, are down to two with under 10% margins. Yes, you can argue that the Liberals defied expectations by ending the night two ridings - hell, I was certainly prepared for disappointment in all five in the days leading up to August 1st. But the fact is that in her first electoral test, Wynne lost 3/5 of her seats, with the two in southwestern Ontario nowhere even close to even a moral victory, the very place she needed to do better in order to show she has the stuff to win. And guess what guys - at this point, she doesn't.
However, its hard to say it is Wynne's fault, as I'm sure some will be saying. While you can knock her for not being able to change the channel on McGuinty's scandals, as I said before the fact is that people are angry with the perceived scandals, they're bored with the decade of Liberal government they've had, and generally things haven't really been going too great in the province with riding costs and the after-effects of the recession. That Wynne's team kept two ridings is a good sign that not everyone has abandoned the Liberals, that we still have a base interested in where we're taking things - the win in Ottawa South really speaks to that given how the polls said it was going. But the loss of three others, why we lost them and how we can take them back, should take more precedence in our minds than this sad consolation prize.
Yet for all the doom and gloom for the Liberals, one can say that one person definitely had a worse night: Tim Hudak.
Imagine for a second that you are a member of a political party. Now imagine that your leader, a former minor cabinet member in a long-ago administration, has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory not just once, in a general election; not just twice, in a by-election in one of your own ridings; but now this leader has fallen short in five other by-elections, only eeking out a bare win in a riding that, with the candidate he managed to put in place, should have been a complete blowout. Plus he is the most distrusted, disliked and disapproved of current political leader in the province. Would you keep him as leader?
Personally, I wouldn't. You could call me a hypocrite on this, given that I supported Iggy to the very end, but the fact is that Hudak is the new Ignatieff and I have the benefit of hindsight. In fact, he is in a worse situation that Ignatieff when you think about the approval/disapproval stuff. But the parallels are there, aren't they? Sure, Iggy/Hudak won a narrow victory in Winnipeg North/Etobicoke-Lakeshore, but they lost one of their own ridings in Vaughan/Kitchener-Waterloo and failed to make waves anywhere else. Iggy/Hudak is up against an unpopular government with a stubborn base, and an energetic third party with a popular leader that people may just be willing to lend their support to whenever push comes to shove, even some of his own supporters.
There is the caveat that the pollsters can take some of the heat for the high expectations that people had for the Tories in these ridings. At the same time, you'd expect that an opposition party so vigorously opposed to the government and by all accounts winning some legislative victories by bringing out the scandals (again, hints of Iggy with the Liberal's contempt of Parliament push versus Harper) to be able to kick the government when its down! Yet they were unable to take out two relatively low-hanging fruits in Ottawa South and Scarborough-Guildwood, lost what was seen to be a good win for them by a huge amount in London West, and eeked out a 1,500-vote win in Etobicoke-Lakeshore based solely on the fact that he nabbed Doug Holyday away from Ford Nation, because you can be pretty darn sure with Milczyn's numbers that the PCs wouldn't have won the riding with anyone else.
The fact is that Hudak's whole operation, once again, was a mess last night, and if I were a PC supporter, I would be thoroughly disappointed and looking for new leadership, and it seems some definitely are, such as SunTV hack Michael Coren. I think it may only be a matter of time, days even, before the knives come out for Hudak's back. Question becomes whether or not he can survive it.
Anyways, below are the results in fun graphical form: