All the pundits were wrong. When the Calgary-Foothills by-election was called for the Thursday before Labour Day everyone expected turnout to be terrible.
The folks in this riding had voted last fall in a by-election that put Jim Prentice into the Legislature, then again in the spring in the general election and now a third time to replace Prentice after his disgraceful resignation before the ballots were even counted.
But people were mad and they came and voted on the last Thursday of summer. Almost 13,000 people voted – a turnout of around 40%. More people voted than did in last fall’s by-election. And they voted against the NDP.
Notley’s orange wave was strong enough for a respectable 32% and second place in the spring. But in the by-election they dropped back to only 26%. For all the talk about how Alberta has changed – the results are clear after a few months in power, more people are voting against the NDP than before. Calgary Foothills is swath of suburban North West Calgary populated by families dependent on the oil industry. The results make it pretty obvious what these folks think of how the Notely government is running the show.
But the biggest drop was reserved for the PC’s. Prentice got 58% a year ago, which dropped to 40% in the spring. This by-election saw them with only 22% of the vote. They dropped 36% in less than a year. This is a party dying before our eyes. If they had that kind of drop in one of their safest seats, imagine how they are doing in the rest of province.
The biggest movers were the Wildrose - surging more than 20% to win handily. This is a huge swing, especially in a by-election that was supposed to be close. If this kind of swing was replicated across the province there would be a Wildrose majority government.
People were mad, they came out to punish the PC’s for abandoning them and the NDP for damaging Alberta’s economy. They weren’t put off by election fatigue or by good weather. They wanted to send a message and they did: the Wildrose is the only party that will fight for Alberta jobs and common sense government.
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