After a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Calgary-Greenway byelection, the NDP says it's heard the message from voters loud and clear.
"People are very worried about the economy, and that's the message we heard from this byelection," said Premier Rachel Notley.
"We know that, and we're going to continue to work as hard as we can to support all Albertans as we navigate through these difficult times."
NDP candidate Roop Rai captured roughly one-fifth of the popular vote, roughly eight per cent behind PC winner Prab Gill.
Here is the unofficial count for the top four candidates:
- PC - Prab Gill: 2,292 (28%)
- Wildrose - Devinder Toor: 1,957 (24%)
- Liberal - Khalil Karbani: 1,870 (23%)
- NDP - Roop Rai: 1,667 (20%)
Loss not crucial, says pollster
According to independent pollster Janet Brown, sitting governments typically do not fare well in byelections, especially in a downturn.
"Voters like to take the opportunity to send government a message under any circumstances," she said.
But despite the fact the NDP were not favoured to win, coming in fourth was a "real blow," Brown said.
"It really shows that this government has a credibility problem when it comes to dealing with our tough economic situation."
Brown does not consider this a crucial loss for the NDP, who still have three years until the next provincial election.
Political strategist Stephen Carter called the fourth-place finish an "embarrassment."
"At the end of the day, the NDP were the big losers," he said.
"It wasn't just about jobs and the economy. It was about a connection to Calgary, and the NDP don't have it."
A mixed win for the PCs, says strategist
Political strategist Corey Hogan said it's difficult to make broad statements about political attitudes in a race where just 625 votes separated first- and fourth-place finishers.
"Last provincial election, 69 ridings had a bigger gap between first and second than we saw between first and fourth last night," Hogan said.
But Hogan did say that the PCs "did very poorly" relative to their 2015 general election performance.
"This was a riding that they won by 15 points last time. They only won it by a couple this time. That's a problem," Hogan said.
"If they're only winning Greenway by two points, they're losing everything else."
'Tremendous progress' for the Wildrose
The Wildrose Party said the tight race was evidence of the party's "tremendous progress" in the riding, as compared to one year ago when Toor placed third with 21 per cent of the popular vote.
"In a riding we lost by thousands just last May, we closed the gap to hundreds last night," the release said.
Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said the close results could short circuit any talk of uniting the PC's and the Wildrose.
"I think if the NDP had won it, that would have moved the two parties together," he said.
"But now I think you have two separate parties, one that's overtly conservative and one that's got a conservative wing and a progressive wing. And I think they're going to keep fighting it out."