Three election nights in as many months. I'm starting to get the hang of this.
The biggest surprise of the night was Mario Dumont's decision to leave his party leadership. The obvious question that comes up now is: Who the heck is going to lead the ADQ? Can you even name another ADQ MNA?
The biggest electoral surprise is clearly Amir Khadir winning the Plateau riding of Mercier for Québec solidaire. Not only did he unseat the PQ's Daniel Turp, but he surprised a lot of news outlets who hadn't planned for one of the "autres" to get a seat in this election. (Our front page needed a last-minute redesign to add a fourth box for QS's seat total.)
In the early stages of returns, the seat seesawed between Khadir and Turp, but another riding way off near Quebec City was also showing a QS lead (with one poll reporting), reminding everyone that these results were still early. That other candidate ended up dead last with 1,000 votes.
But as the night wore on, the lead became more constant, and slowly started to grow. Cynicism that Khadir's lead would vanish when more conservative mainstream votes came in slowly started to vanish. As the party's co-leaders (they're really going to have to get rid of that co-leadership system) gave their news conference, the networks called the seat for Khadir, and another political party officially entered relevance.
Now, does this mean QS will be invited to leaders' debates?
They almost got it wrong
CTV Montreal is very proud of the fact that they called a majority government first, just after 8:30pm. This means they're cool and their penis is larger than everyone else's, I think. The seats certainly looked to be going to a solid majority early on.
But around 9pm, the number of leading and elected Liberal seats started holding steady at 63-64. This was right on the razor's edge. All it would take is a couple of Liberal-leading seats to shift to another party and Charest loses his majority. Part of me wanted exactly that to happen so that overeager news directors would have to explain why they got it wrong.
In the end, though, the Liberals got 66 seats, pending recounts, and their majority isn't in doubt. Only a couple of ridings in the Montérégie area were close enough (the lead in votes is significantly less than the number of spoiled ballots) that a recount might change something.
Here's how the main news sources handled their online results:
- CTV had its own custom election system which failed in a very important way: It couldn't process a win by a candidate outside the three main parties. Seat totals don't include Québec solidaire, and Amir Khadir is not listed as elected in Mercier, nor is QS or the Green Party listed under "party leaders". It also doesn't list incumbents.
- Canoe (TVA/Journal) had a very basic, non-Flash elections page. A table of results by party, and individual tables of results for each riding. Québec solidaire was listed under "Autres".
- CBC, which has been at online election results longer than everyone else, had an interactive election map with colour-coded ridings. The map format made it easier to find ridings visually, but it also meant if you wanted a Montreal riding you had to "zoom in" three times. It also had a separate page with results tables by region (and links to tables by riding). No indication of incumbency here either, which surprised me.
- Radio-Canada had a different online election setup (do these people not talk to each other? Surely it's easier to translate existing software than create an entirely new system?). It's not much to look at.
- Cyberpresse, Le Devoir and The Globe and Mail used a flash widget provided by Canadian Press/Presse Canadienne. The interface was slick, with square tiles representing each riding. When you click on them, they jump out and form a staacked bar graph. But it was also incredibly basic. It didn't even provide percentage totals for each candidate. The tile system also made it more difficult to find ridings visually, compared to a real map.
- The website of the director general of elections (which The Gazette pointed to for results) had the advantages of being official and fast. But around 8:45pm, it stopped updating (while CP and CBC's feeds kept going), panicking reporters and editors who were using it for results. It came back around 9:15 and stayed reliable for the rest of the night. The table system is simple, which is good, but because it's an official site it doesn't declare candidates elected like the news networks do, and it also doesn't note incumbents or incumbent parties.