Well, yesterday I was going to make the fearless prediction that Dumont's ADQ would beat one of the major parties in the vote percentages, but I didn't. Maybe I will look dumb for not doing so by the end of the night. With 11% of the votes in, it's neck-and-neck.
8:07 CT The CBC has already posted a "Charest reelected" article. Do they know something we don't? According to the returns so far, with about 15% of precincts reporting in Sherbrooke, Charest is trailing by 126 votes to the PQ candidate.
8:14 CT Well, they've pulled the article from the main site, and Charest still trails. Boisclair and Dumont, on the other hand, are leading comfortably. Wouldn't it be crazy if the PLQ emerged with the most seats but Charest lost his own riding?
8:25 CT ADQ and PLQ are still leading in 45 circonscriptions each with PQ behind holding 35. The popular vote is closer, PLQ first, ADQ just behind, PQ a couple percentage points back. Boisclair's probably done, and it's looking more and more like Charest really could lose Sherbrooke; he's trailing by over 300 votes and 30 percent of "bureaux de vote" (I know I shouldn't say "precincts") are reporting.
8:42 CT Charest's chances don't look too good. Not being able to watch Canadian TV in Texas, I have no idea what's being speculated. Who takes over if Charest falls in Sherbrooke? Deputy premier Jacques Dupuis? The PLQ is still leading the overall seat count...
8:43 CT And I'm resolving never to silence my own fearless prediction, ever again.
9:49 CT Interestingly, Charest is closing the gap late. With about 15% of polling stations left, he's back within 250 votes. Probably about 3,000 votes are still out, so it's certainly possible he could pull it off.
9:57 CT Whoa. The one polling station that just reported apparently had something like a 140-vote advantage for Charest, who's pulled within 110 votes in Sherbrooke. Meanwhile, yes, there is an election going on in 124 other ridings. About 94% of polling places have been counted, and somehow, first-second-third are the same in the vote totals as in seat totals, despite the total mess that has been created.
10:23 CT Huh?? Another three polling places have come in for Sherbrooke and Charest now leads by something like 700 votes. Apparently, everyone, their mom, and their dog here voted for Charest.
10:33 CT OK. Charest was trailing by 250 votes after 182 stations were counted. With another six stations in, he's now up by 915 votes. How, exactly, did he manage this? In 2003, he did not win a single polling place in Sherbrooke by a 200-vote margin--only a couple by a 100-vote margin (according to my very quick glance at the data) and now he's managed to make up over 1100 votes in six? Perhaps some reporting polling places hadn't counted all their votes?
It should be noted additionally, and should have been taken into account, that the PQ dominated the 2003 advance vote, probably by a 1300-1400-vote margin, which accounts for much of the early lead held by PQ candidate Forgues this time around if it held.
Not that I'm casting aspersions or anything, it would have just been a lot more interesting as an observer if Charest had lost, and I've got no personal stake in this. But there will certainly be enough action on the horizon regardless.
10:49 CT Anyhow, whatever the case, they say Charest won the riding by about 1300 votes (half his margin of 2600 from last time, and down from 47% of the vote to 37%). The overall results in the province, with over 99.5% of polling places in, show:
Liberals: 33.1%, 48 seats
ADQ: 30.8%, 41 seats
PQ: 28.3%, 36 seats
Boisclair may be done as PQ leader. Big surprise for the ADQ, which exceeded even the most optimistic polls. The Liberals, usually the party with the smallest "winners' bonus" due to their large margins of victory in anglophone ridings, have a relatively large margin this time with ADQ and PQ splitting lots of ridings. The big question is what this heralds for the provincial political scene--three parties? realignment of constituencies? all of which is beyond my abilities to look at tonight, but which will undoubtedly lead to some interesting consequences. And probably another election fairly soon.