With only hours to go until the results begin rolling in, it’s quite likely that the PCs will run away with a majority. However there are still some interesting questions to be answered. Will the Liberal leader win his seat? Will this NDP “surge” actually result in anything? Can Kathy Dunderdale achieve as big a majority as her predecessor, Danny Williams? The Independent has put together a list of ridings to keep an eye on tonight – some which will be interesting to watch because of the slight voting margins in 2007, and others which will be exciting to watch because of the story behind the race.
Because of the Math
Bay of Islands
PC Terry Loder beat Liberal Eddie Joyce in 2007 by 6% of the vote. And now Joyce is back to challenge Loder again in 2011. Has he been able to make any headway within the community in the interim?
Dwight Ball ran for this seat for the Liberals in 2003, narrowly losing by less than 5% of the vote. However, following the incumbent’s resignation in 2007, he won the riding in a by-election in 2007 against PC Darryl Kelly by 0.2% of the vote. His victory was short lived as he lost in the 2007 general election to Kelly by just over 4% of the vote. And now in 2011 the two candidates face off yet again for the final in a best-of-three contest.
Labrador West has typically been kind to the NDP, who had an NDP MHA for 8 years between 1999 and 2007. In 2007 they lost the seat by 9% of the vote, but seem to be confident that they can win it back with newcomer Tom Harris, a Steelworkers union rep.
Port de Grave
Liberal Roland Butler won this riding in 2007 by a 4% margin, but has since retired from politics. Now Glenn Littlejohn, his PC opponent, is trying again. Can newcomer Leanne Hussey keep the seat?
Isles of Notre Dame
The closest riding in the 2007 election saw Derrick Dalley defeat the then-liberal-leader Gerry Reid by just 12 votes. The riding has historically been predominantly Liberal, so you might expect it to be a nail-biter again in 2011. But the X-factor? Running for the Liberals is loose cannon Danny Dumaresque, who is from Labrador and has no connection with this riding.
Because of the Story
St. George’s – Stephenville East
PC Joan Burke won in 2007 with 75% of the vote, so how could this possibly be of interest? Well this is the riding that Liberal leader Kevin Aylward has chosen to run in – a riding that he was elected in for four straight elections from 1985 on until his retirement. With strong ties to the federal Liberal party in that region – which they easily won in the Federal election – will his past successes and current appointment be enough to turn the tide? Or will the Liberals not have their leader elected for the second straight election?
Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi
Lorraine Michael beat her PC rival in 2007 by 17%, however this time around the PCs have fielded a much stronger candidate in former auditor general John Noseworthy. Can a bigger name defeat the NDP leader?
Though the Liberal party lost this riding by 60% of the vote in 2007, they have fielded a very strong candidate in 2011. Carol Anne Haley is well known in the community and has been a strong organizer for the national Liberals in the same area – an area won easily by Liberal MP Judy Foote. Will it make a difference?
The Northeast Avalon
A lot has been made about an NDP surge, and this has been supported by polls from separate sources indicating a rise in popular support for the party. The problem is that this popularity is focused on the Northeast Avalon region of the province – in ridings where the PC party won between 70-85% of the popular vote. If the NDP do have a shot at becoming the official opposition, they will need a breakthrough in the St. John’s region and will need the Liberals to lose one or two of their seats elsewhere. Keep an eye on results from the Avalon to see how big this “surge” really is.