I'll have plenty more to say about last night's resounding Alberta NDP election victory in posts to come. But for now, here's a quick take on what comes next for the PCs.
I had earlier wondered whether the PCs might effectively take a majority-or-bust position in contrast to the other parties.
Going into last night, the NDP and Wildrose Party each had reason to draw something positive out of winning, say, 20 seats and/or a role as the Official Opposition. And that may have implied some willingness to put resources into achieving those outcomes even if it meant falling short of winning power.
But having started with a majority government, the PCs spent the entire campaign sending the message both that nothing less would do, and that they were close to achieving that result no matter what the polls said. And they seem to have campaigned accordingly - making no pleas to save the furniture or offer a platform for rebuilding.
What's more, they did prove the polls wrong to some extent - coming in second in the popular vote where the last wave of projections saw them plummeting below the Wildrose. But that wasn't enough to save more than a handful of seats - a disconnect which might be explained if the PCs directed proportionally more of their efforts toward losing battles in seats which might have represented the margin between forming government and not.
Obviously, the end result didn't make for a situation which Jim Prentice wanted to bother facing. But it's an open question whether other Alberta PCs share his disdain for the work of building in opposition - and the answer will likely determine the identity of the NDP's main opponent in election cycles to come.