So Yasir Naqvi managed to hold on to Ottawa Centre from the NDP, who had this as one of their top targets. What does this mean for the riding federally?
The NDP does own the seat federally, with Paul Dewar being the incumbent. His victory over arch-Martinite Richard Mahoney in 2006 was somewhat of a surprise, as it was thought that Mahoney (who had he been elected would have most certainly been given a high level cabinet post) had only lost to the NDP in 2004 because former leader and living legend Ed Broadbent was the candidate. Let's examine the both the 2000 and 2004 Federal results:
In 2000, an election which saw Chretien at the height of his power, the Liberals easily held the seat. In 2004:
A massive surge for the NDP, a drop for the Liberals, and the growth of the Greens are all notable here. Now, making allowances for the drop the Liberals saw overall in this election, and the star candidate make the NDP victory less surprising in retrospect. By 2006 however, the Liberals wanted the seat, and given that Broadbent was not running for re-election, Mahoney was figured by many to have a much easier go. The results though, didn't pan out:
Another NDP victory, although both the NDP and the Liberals appear to have lost some overall percentage to the rising Greens and Conservatives. Something to remember though, the rough breakdown of the votes was 35%-30%-20%-10%.
Lets examine the provincial scene. The incumbent Liberal, Richard Patten, had been around forever, and left in a bit of a huff, (although he still played an active role supporting Yasir's campaign) leaving the riding fairly open. In step 4 youngsters in Yasir Naqvi, Will Murray, Trina Morissette and Greg Laxton to try and win the divided riding, although only Yasir and Will had an actual chance, save for a massive PC lifting. For context, here are the 2003 provincial results:
So Richard has a fairly safe seat, and the NDP and PC's battle it out for second. Oddly enough, a glance at the provincial results show that although the PC's never won the seat, they were extremely competitive, coming in under 10% behind in every election from 1967-1981, and after that, finishing well behind the eventual winner, with the exception of 1999, coming in 6% behind.
Now, in between the last provincial election and the 2007 one, the NDP had won the riding fairly convincingly twice, and seen the long-time incumbent MPP leave. Ottawa Centre was probably amongst the top 5 targets for the NDP in this election, and a must win seat if they had wished to hold the balance of power in a minority situation. They focused lots of resources on the seat, with federal MP Paul Dewar showing his face frequently, and numerous visits by Howard Hampton. The Liberals ran a tough campaign, wanting to show the NDP that they didn't own the riding yet. The results are as follows:
So what do we see? My first reaction was that the share of votes for each parties position was nearly the exact same as the previous federal election, with the winner taking 35%, the runner up 30%, (with the actual winner and loser being reversed) and the Conservative and Green votes remaining similar, at 20-ish% and 10-ish percent. Now of course, federal and provincial dynamics are different, but I can draw similarities between Yasir and Paul's victory. Both saw victory despite a decline in overall vote share, both were running to take over from high profile incumbents, and both faced tough fights. Overall, the fact that we were able to run a more effective campaign is what kept the riding Liberal. Will Murray had a potential pool of 40% of the voters who went NDP only 3 years ago, and was only able to get 30%, while Yasir and his team were able to raise the Liberal vote from below 30% to a victory. The victory was certainly a morale raiser, and should help the team manage to get Penny Collenette a very good shot at knocking off Paul Dewar, who didn't seem to help Will Murray much.