Alberta's Progressive Conservatives pulled off a convincing victory Monday, defying polls that put the Wildrose Party out front throughout the entire campaign. And while Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith did not bring down the PC dynasty, she led her upstart party to form a credibly sized opposition. Here are a few of the decisive factors:
Pollsters repeatedly called for a Wildrose majority – with some giving the party sweeping control over the province. It sparked confidence among the Wildrose faithful, but may have fuelled a rebellion in the undecided ranks.
"I think in the end, there was a lot of undecided voters that made up their mind as they walked to the polls," entrepreneur Jeff Langford said, adding that he believed these people voted PC because of reports the Wildrose was going to sweep the province.
PC Leader Alison Redford sopped up traditional Liberal and New Democratic voters – two groups the PCs haven't been able to count on in the past.
Two Wildrose candidates made comments that caused controversy. Ms. Smith did not force these candidates to step down. She defended them on the basis of freedom of speech, but later said her party wouldn't tolerate discrimination. It wasn't enough. Both candidates lost.
THE URBAN VOTE
Calgary was the key battleground in this election. Wildrose couldn't capitalize here enough to win the day and the PCs ended up taking most of the seats. "Change might take a little longer than we thought," Ms. Smith told supporters.
Anecdotal accounts and party exit polls suggest that turnout was higher in this election than in previous years because the stakes were higher.