Everything pretty much went as expected last night, but the really interesting storyline in my mind was the Green Party. The big question for the Greens, could the poll numbers translate to actual votes? There was an assumption, based on past elections, that the Green support was soft, when push came to shove, many would move to other parties. However, last night saw the Greens match their polling average, which is a testament to future party prospects.
A full 8% of voters is beyond the "fringe" label and while no seats were won, this level of support changes the landscape. The Greens are now a legitimate part of the conversation, something which other parties best take seriously. If Ontario voters were prepared to support the Greens in the provincial election, I see no reason why this expression can't replicate itself in the federal arena (especially with a leader that is more high-profile and media friendly). How this new reality translates in tight ridings is yet to be determined, but people should take notice.
After last night's vote, I suspect pollsters will be far less apt to disregard the Green numbers as soft and unproven. One of the biggest hurdles for an emerging party, look credible, look relevant. The Ontario election represents a huge step for the Greens because they have achieved a new level of legitimacy. In the next Ontario election, the cries for Green participation in any debate will have added weight. In the next Canadian election, the Greens could well play a key role in many ridings, and the Dion/May pact may be something to watch. I view last night as a watershed moment for the Greens, a great foundation to build on for the future.