Liberals: 49 seats, 46%
NDP: 36 seats, 42%
So, no change in the popular vote from 2006, and the parties each gained 3 new seats. How thrilling.
So what does it all mean?
1. Gordon Campbell becomes a rare three-time winner and one of the elder statesmen of the provincial premiers. Presumably, there will be a lot of speculation as to whether or not he goes for a fourth term...either way, the unofficial leadership race is on.
2. Campbell also gets to play host for the Olympics next year.
3. While the carbon tax may not have been the issue of the campaign, Campbell showed that carbon pricing is not necessarily electoral suicide. I doubt anyone will be running on a carbon tax anytime soon but, at the very least, a gutsy Premier in the safe confines of a majority could give it a try.
4. And while I might align politically more with the BC NDP than the BC Liberals, I did take some pleasure in watching Carole James go down in a blaze of carbon emitting flames. Not only did James rail against the carbon tax, but she also opposed a series of conservation measures brought in by the Liberals. I'm all for a pragmatic NDP, but the party completely betrayed their principles and deserved to lose.
5. But, like I said, the carbon tax may not have been the issue - it was probably a question of who voters wanted to lead them through a recession. With that in mind, the front runner in Nova Scotia's election, NDP leader Darrell Dexter, must be a tad worried at seeing these results. Tory times may be tough times, but the Dippers would be a disaster in the eyes of many voters.
6. Since the economy went south, Stephen Harper, Jean Charest, and Gordon Campbell have all won re-election. So much for the claim that incumbents can't survive a recession, eh?
And given my rather superficial understanding of BC politics (I saw a few lawn signs when I was there last weekend...that's about it), that's all I'll say on this topic. But any commentators from BC should feel free to add their two cents.
Now, as for STV, it was a crushing defeat. After coming oh so close in 2005, voters decisively rejected the system - only 39% supported the change, and it passed in just 7 ridings. Clearly STV is dead and, on the heels of Ontarians rejecting MMP in 2007, you have to think drastic electoral reform will be shuffled to the back-burner in Canada for at least a decade. Sure, there's some tinkering that can be done with finance reforms, fixed election dates, preferential ballots, and other incremental changes, but whether poli-sci grads like it or not, most Canadians have shown that they're OK with first past the post.
As for what went wrong, Paul Wells offers a good run-down here. [UPDATE] Other possibilities (which I posted in the comments before deciding to add them here):
1. The question was framed as FPTP vs. STV this time, whereas last time it just asked if people wanted to change the system. I'm not sure why that would change things, but support for STV in polls varied wildly depending on how the question was framed.
2. People were certainly a lot more informed this time. Maybe the more they learned about STV, the less they liked about it.
3. The general appetite for change may just have been less now. Given the election results, voters may just have been looking for stability during uncertain economic times.
4. In 2005, the most recent election (2001) had produced a very skewed legislature - 77 seats to 2. This time around, the most recent election (2005) produced a fairly representative and functional legislature. Why fix it, if it's ain't broke?