As of 9:30 or so last night, it was becoming quite apparent the Alberta PC's were going to lose Calgary Elbow, and so they did, handing the seat over to Liberal candidate Craig Cheffins.
I had done a little informal "sign-polling" last weekend, and I had suspected that the Conservatives were in trouble, and the poll results from last night bear that out.
While the wealthiest areas of the riding (and there are some pretty posh neighborhoods in Calgary Elbow) remained firmly conservative, others just a step or two down on the economic ladder swung quite dramatically towards the Liberals.
Polls in areas like Chinook Park or Lakeview swung Liberal - sometimes by very close margins (only handful of votes), or in Lakeview, the polls swung to the Liberals quite significantly.
I was a little surprised that the SoCred and Alberta Alliance candidates didn't do more to dilute the PC vote - I had expected a greater impact from those parties than the polls actually demonstrated.
Does this speak to a "red tide" in Calgary, AB? I'm not so optimistic about that. I think this is a "bow shot" for Stelmach's PC's. One that says that you don't get to ignore Calgary - or any other urban area in Alberta.
I'm happy to see another member of the legislature sitting in the opposition benches. Our legislature has been stumblingly useless under the weight of decades long landslide majority governments, interrupted only briefly by the ineptitude of Don Getty.
Under Steven Taft's leadership, the Alberta Liberals have become an effective voice for Albertans. He has a team of strong MLAs in the legislature that have done more to hold the Klein era tories to some degree of account than any of his predecessors. Today, Ed Stelmach has simply tried to continue with doing it "Ralph's Way", and because he's not Ralph, people are being a little more critical about it.
The only real disappointment I have with the byelection is the fact that only a little more than 30% of the eligible voters participated. But, that isn't entirely surprising when many in Alberta would view the outcome of any electoral vote as a foregone conclusion after so many years of landslide victories for the PCs.