Why Danielle Smith is Kinda Correct About the UCP’s Edmonton Performance

How can a party see a silver lining in losing 20 seats? That's because not all of them were the blowouts we expected them to be

Premier Danielle Smith sure got more than a few people up in arms when she said she would continue to seek advice from some of the Edmonton UCP candidates who were defeated in Tuesday’s election.

The “council of defeated” was what it’s being called. (Which sounds like the name of the third Joy Division album, had Joy Division been able to put out a third album).

But, in talking to 630 CHED she said something that we all have to admit is… true.

“Some got a lot closer than I think anybody ever would have expected.”

Being a talk-radio veteran, Smith sure knew how to get a point across: And she wanted to sell that, despite losing all 20 seats within Edmonton’s borders, the UCP could take positives away from their performance in the election, where they swept across the rural ridings and held just enough of Calgary to form a majority government.

Yet, the numbers back it up. Despite going 0-20, the Tories overperformed in Edmonton, based on some pretty low expectations. Going into the vote, no one would have predictied any sort of success in the New Democratic bastion of Edmonton.

But, when the analysts drill down the numbers, they will find that, despite being shut out, there were a lot of Tory candidates — who, let’s face it, were set out by the party to be cannon fodder — who overperformed.

Of the 20 ridings, six saw the Tories earn about the same percentage of votes as they did in 2019; that is, they stayed within one percentage point of the previous election’s results. In five more ridings, the Tories’ share of the vote increased.

Considering the negative perceptions of Smith within the city of Edmonton, the fact that the Tories only lost vote share in nine of 20 ridings is a strange sort of win for them.

The biggest Tory gains, if we can call them that, came in the north. In Castle Downs, the Tory vote share went up by five per cent, as former city councillor John Dziadyk got 41.1 per cent of the vote. In Decore, the Tories also got more than 41 per cent of the vote, with Sayid Ahmed making for a competitive candidate in the riding. And, in Beverly-Clareview, the UCP vote went up from just over 36 per cent in 2019 to nearly 39 per cent on Monday.

So those numbers gave Smith just enough ammunition to try and claim a sweep-out loss as a weird kind of… win. But, while some Edmonton seats will likely remain safe NDP wins for years to come, there are signs that when you head north, the Tories could be competitive again.

Of course, a lot of that depends on Smith, herself.