Before I get into a party by party breakdown, let's remember these were by elections. And weird things can often happen in by elections. The Tories and NDP both benefited from strong local candidates in the ridings they won and a strong local candidate has a much larger impact on a by election than on a national campaign. Also, voter turn out was low, with Outremont only getting 59% of the total votes cast there they got in the 2006 election. Still, their results shouldn't be discounted because even if weird stuff goes down during by elections, they can often be quite telling of shifting political winds.
CPC: The Tories made big gains in both the rural ridings (dropping in Outremont) and certainly have the Bloc on the run. Despite all the flack Harper has gotten over Afghanistan, it certainly appears that the potential for a Quebec breakthrough is there under the right circumstances. If you ask me, he's a bigger winner than Layton tonight, because I can't see the NDP gaining from this in the next election, whereas the Tories could pick up another 10 or 12 seats if things broke right during the next campaign.
NDP: Yeah, it was somewhat historic, but they did take a 1990 by election in Quebec too and the 1993 election didn't exactly usher in a socialist revolution. Outremont was their best riding in 2006 and I really can't see another seat that's within their grasp. That said, having a Quebec MP is a huge boost for the Dippers and they now have a strong leader in waiting, with even more facial hair than Jack Layton. Not that leadership is really a question now, as Jack must be grinning even more than usual today.
Liberals: Like Coyne said, the drop in Outremont wasn't cataclysmic given that it was an incredibly inept local campaign, from the sound of things. And, hell, maybe Jean Lapierre had some appeal on the Quebec nation that was lost on me. But it's still a big body blow to the Party and to Dion. There's no denying that, especially when you consider that the party seems to be worse off now in Quebec than during the height of Adscam. What hurts more than the by election loss is the internal party snipping. At the risk of losing my "G" rating, enough with the fucking anonymous quotes already. That goes for the Iggy people who may or may not be trying to undermine Dion and that goes for the Dion people who see a conspiracy plot around every corner. It's abundantly clear that unless this party can renew itself, get better structurally organized, and come together, we won't win another election for a long time. And that's true regardless of whomever the leader is. Dion is here until at least the next election whether people like it or not and the kind of antics that are reported to be going on don't help anyone.
Bloc: Ouch. The Bloc had massive drops in support in all three by elections, losing to the NDP in the cities and to the Conservatives in the rural seats. This party is in deep trouble and the only real question is whether it's them or the Liberals who will be forced to reluctantly support Harper in an effort to stave off an election.
Greens: Lost in the shuffle is the fact that the Greens lost more support than the Liberals province wide - and they had very little to begin with. Despite all the talk about the environment and high poll numbers, it just didn't happen for them - and one would expect more protest Green votes in by elections than in a general election too.
So that's a snapshot of the scene in Quebec. By elections in Ontario and Saskatchewan this fall should give us a better sense of the rest of the country.
Labels: Quebec byelections