So what does all of this mean? Well much of it was expected. Greg Selinger was expected to win, and he is not expected to change much. The only real difference is a new face and name. Remember, though, that this government has served for 3 terms, and there is a history of long-time and popular premiers resigning and being replaced, only to have their party bomb in the following election. It's not a poor reflection on the new leader, but rather that voters grow tired of a party ofter time. Weather the Manitoba NDP is going to suffer this fate is as of yet unknown. Selinger is likely not going to suddenly take hold of the imagination of regular Manitobans, he's a known face (he was finance minister) and a his party is a known quantity. His best bet at winning the next election is to convince Manitobans that he and his party have done a good job and deserve to be re-elected. Alternatively, he can try to scare the voters away from the PC Party. This will be difficult at best as the Manitoba PC Party is one of the most moderate provincial PC parties in the country.
Smith being elected leader of the Wildrose Alliance is bigger news. Earlier in the race, citing trusted sources, there was a report that as many as 10 PC MLAs would cross the floor to sit with the Alliance if Smith won the leadership. With or without Smith, the Alliance made waves when they won a by-election in Calgary, putting former leader Paul Hinman back into the house. Hinman won election in 2005 and was the only Alliance candidate to do so, he then served as leader until yesterday. This was a clear signal that the party is not going away. Alberta has had many one-shot wonders. Parties have been known to come and go, but Hinman's win shows that the Alliance just might have some real staying power.
Lets examine what happens if the defections take place. First, this would mean the WAP now has 11 seats, more than the Liberal's 9. Hinman (presumably) would then become the new Leader of the Opposition, at least until Smith can find a seat somewhere. There is then the question of what the single independent member does. If he joins, it could make for 12 members in the Alliance, but then again he might be one of the so-called 10. Chances are, however, that not a full 10 will switch, if any at all. If 8 members defect to the WAP, they would tie with the Liberals at 9, but due to precedence, the Liberals would remain the official opposition. If 1 member defects, they would tie with the NDP, but remain in 4th place. If these threats are true, there is a good chance that the number of defectors will in fact be between 2 and 8. There is also the possibility of a passive defection. That is a member resigns his seat in a riding that the Alliance could win, allowing Smith a way into the legislature.
At this point, all we have is a hypothetical threat, and a single poll. What we do know is that the Alliance has not vanished from the Alberta landscape. What that means, however, is undefined at this time.
Sorry, no extra data today!