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UPDATE: Victoria byelection 2012: the votes are rolling in
It's byelection night in Victoria and the excitement is building at the various headquarters.
Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May joined candidate Donald Galloway at their Yates Street location around 7 p.m. Both were cheerful, greeting the 50 or so people in the room warmly.
Galloway, who hopes to nudge the NDP out of the seat tonight, said regardless of the result, the response in the communities shows the Greens are a real contender.
Over at Conservative Party headquarters, down one block on lower Yates Street, candidate Dale Gann had yet to arrive, but 50 or 60 supporters had already gathered. Unlike the Green gathering, which had an eclectic mix, the age range here is an older crowd.
Now stationed at NDP headquarters inside the Fairmont Empress Hotel's Crystal Ballroom, News journalist Daniel Palmer reports a "gala-like atmosphere." Upwards of 150 had arrived, hoping to see candidate Murray Rankin make an acceptance speech and take over where retired NDP MP Denise Savoie left off.
Unlike the other two camps, a lot of younger people are here in support of the NDP.
As of 8 p.m., the Elections Canada website showed a tight race between Rankin and Galloway, with the NDP leading 476 votes to 432 with 11 of 256 polls reporting.
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With the poll results coming in more quickly now, Donald Galloway has a tiny lead, eight votes over Rankin, 1,1101 to 1,088 with 25 polls reporting. The mood is pensive at NDP headquarters...
Meanwhile, Liberal Paul Summerville and Conservative Dale Gann are battling it out for third place, with just over 350 votes each.
• • •
How quickly things can change. Rankin surged ahead by 137 votes. Many people expected this race to be an NDP cakewalk, but the Greens are proving to be very resilient. Now with 50 polls in, Galloway back to within 40 votes of Rankin.
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A little more than halfway through the count and the two leaders are swapping the lead back and forth. At the 140 poll mark, the two actually sat in a dead tie with 6,585 votes each.
At the Green office, Galloway appears stunned by the results so far.
"I think we've won, whatever happens," he says. "We've run a fabulous campaign. I don' think the NDP expected this."
• • •
Talk about a massive swing. The Greens went from being ahead by more than 200 votes to being behind by 386 with 196 of 256 polls counted. The poll-by-poll results will certainly tell the story tomorrow, but there's still lots of votes to be counted.
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The NDP's Rankin is widening his lead with 205 polls counted, stacking up an 821-vote margin over Galloway. This could be the Orange Tide turning back the Green Wave. Not as quickly as anyone would have predicted, but a shift in momentum nonetheless.
• • •
The Greens have officially conceded to the NDP, with Rankin ahead by more than 1,200 votes and just 25 polls remaining to be counted.