|Dalton McGuinty, Andrea Horwath and Tim Hudak at their Sep. 27, 2011 televised debate.||| Peter J. Thompson/National Post|
The fat lady sang loud and clear, but she wasn’t singing a tune to which the Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak would care to tap his toe. Current and future Liberal premier, Dalton McGuinty, won a strong minority, missing the big prize by a single seat—doesn’t get closer than that. Here’s the preliminary results compared to my predictions:
|My prediction|| |
Looks like I got lucky with my guesses and came within a reasonable margin of error. As I wrote when I made them, I had felt the Liberals were surging above 41% in support—strong majority territory—and the NDP were moving into the mid-twenties. This would have left Tim Hudak’s PCs about where they finished under John Tory’s leadership, 31%.
By election day, however, I was sensing some pull-back from the brink on the part of some right-leaning Liberals (yes such a species does exist), denying Dalton McGuinty his three-peat majority.
Only a little over 2 points separate the Grits from the Tories in percentage of votes cast—enough to make me wonder how the Progressive Conservative campaign might have turned out had we not been weighed down by Hudak’s reference to immigrants as “foreigners”, and had more of a what-I’ll-do-for-you emphasis and less don’t-vote-for-the-taxman negativism.
Back in July-August, polls were suggesting Tim Hudak held an 11-point lead and could win a majority. McGuinty and his experienced team, though, showed the rookie PC leader a trick or too about running an effective political campaign. The PCs’ backroom guys and gals took one on the chin. Let’s hope they’ll lose some of their centric I-know-best arrogance in time for the next campaign. We have 107 local ridings, and we need to harness more of their knowledge of local issues, their energy and resourcefulness—and, yes, their election expertise.
Both Hudak and Horwath won their home ridings handily and improved their parties’ seat-counts enough to earn those leaders another shot in four years or so. I predict that whichever of the pair build the strongest grassroots organization from the riding level on up, will win when next we go to the polls. McGuinty was mauled (lost 17 seats) yesterday, next time he’ll be ripe for the knock-out punch.
Too early for a final tally, of course, but early statistics suggest this election had one of lowest turnouts—perhaps the lowest ever. Ontario has roughly 8.5-million eligible voters, of whom only about 4.1-million (48%) seemed to have cast a ballot. This is especially disappointing considering the increased advanced polling and the fine weather we enjoyed on voting day. Ontario citizens seem far more concerned with rights and than with obligations. But I digress.
A big shout-out to all the candidates across the province who put their lives and families on hold so they could help lead us in this precious opportunity to engage in democracy. Thank you all.