With 31.9 per cent support, the Parti Québécois slightly underperformed expectations but did make some important gains in eastern Quebec. The party was able to sweep the Gaspésie and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean regions and won seats in the Eastern Townships and Abitibi-Témiscamingue. These are predominantly francophone and rural parts of Quebec that the PQ has traditionally dominated and was always going to win en route to forming a government.
The PQ was unable to make a deeper breakthrough in Laval and Montérégie and was unable to win seats in Mauricie and other parts of francophone Quebec where Liberal incumbents should have been vulnerable.
Had the PQ been riding a wave of positive momentum, ridings such as Fabre, Maskinongé, Montarville and Trois-Rivières would have fallen into its lap. Instead, the party's vote share dropped by more than three points compared with 2008.
The Liberal Party over-achieved to a significant degree, taking 31.2 per cent of the vote.
Its new role as Official Opposition was salvaged due to the astonishing resilience of its incumbents, particularly in the Chaudière-Appalaches and Mauricie regions of francophone Quebec. These should have flipped to the Coalition Avenir Québec and the PQ. Laval, a bellwether region, mostly stuck with the Liberals as well.
The failure of Premier Jean Charest to be re-elected in his riding of Sherbrooke stands out as a particularly difficult defeat for the Liberals to swallow.
Coalition Avenir Québec
The CAQ did about as well as expected with 27.1 per cent of the vote. That kind of performance, however, was exactly what Leader François Legault was hoping to avoid.
But the CAQ did moderately well for a new party. They made major gains in Quebec City and in central Quebec, as was expected. But they did not sweep these regions, as would have been necessary for Mr. Legault to become the leader of the Official Opposition. The CAQ made a small breakthrough in the suburbs north of Montreal, with high-profile candidates Mr. Legault and Jacques Duchesneau – but not Gaétan Barrette – winning their ridings.
The CAQ did not win the seats they were expected to take in the Montérégie and Chaudière-Appalaches regions, and two of the three PQ floor-crossers they could boast as incumbents were defeated by their former parties.