Editor's note: This article was updated with the voter turnout numbers from last night's election.
Nova Scotia elections have been a hot potato game over the last 30 years. Even if your party won a second election, one of those would not be a majority government. So you can look at Stephen McNeil winning back-to-back majorities for the first time since 1988 as a good thing for the Liberals, but the party lost a bunch of seats in a very close election.
At well under 40%, the Liberals won with an efficiency of voting to get a majority of 27 seats in the 51-seat legislature. The Progressive Conservatives gained on the night, particularly in Cape Breton, and finished with 17 seats. The NDP elected its leader Gary Burrill into the chamber and finished with 7 seats. The Liberals were down 6 seats from the 2013 election, the PCs up 6 seats, and the NDP unchanged.
McNeil heard the voters and referred to those concerns in his speech. "I want to assure you that I've heard you and I've listened," McNeil said on health care. "And we have a plan, as well as the opposition parties have a plan and we can work together to make it better."
Health care, teachers unions, eliminating the film tax credits were a few items where voters were upset with the Liberal government.
Even as McNeil and the Liberals won a second majority, Jamie Baillie might have been the biggest winner of the night. The Progressive Conservative leader had heard whispers during the campaign over whether he would remain as the party leader, as he has been since October 2010.
The PCs pulled off an exceptional upset in the Cape Breton-Richmond riding where Liberal cabinet member Michel Samson lost by 20 votes to Alana Paon.
The NDP had the awkward moment where its party leader wasn't in the last government. So the headquarters room was particularly loud when they found out that Gary Burrill had won his seat in the Halifax Chebucto riding. Though the NDP didn't gain seats from the last election, the party won 2 additional seats from the time the writ was dropped (dissolving the previous government). The NDP had been riding at about 9 seats for most of the night but finished with 7 seats, despite drawing about 20% of the vote.
Burrill in his speech spoke of the need for the province to invest in its people.
All 3 parties acknowledged the higher amount of women running and winning in Nova Scotia ridings.
17 of the 51 seats in the new government will be filled by women, up from 15 in the last government. Of the 15, 6 were cabinet members, the highest total in Nova Scotia history.
The Liberals will have 7 while both the PCs and New Democrats will have 5.
"As a woman and as a woman with young children, I feel like I'm going to have a little posse, because Claudia Chender and Sue Leblanc, we're at sort of similar stages, which is not the normal face of a politician," said Lisa Roberts, who was re-elected for the NDP in Halifax Needham. "We're outside of the normal demographic. I know that we will support each other a lot in our work."
Given that the NDP only has 7 members, 71% of the NDP caucus are women.
Folksy is usually the way to describe the political coverage in the Maritimes elections we have observed. Superfans of the party and party leaders were interviewed throughout the night.
Jean Laroche, who was stationed at the Liberal Party headquarters, interviewed one of McNeil's nieces, mostly about the fact that she had her young daughter in her arms. Laroche interviewed a young boy who was very excited about McNeil and asked if the boy was up past his bedtime.
The seemingly long-ago moment where each party kicked out a candidate for poor social media choices wasn't mentioned during the coverage I saw.
While nearby Prince Edward Island gets over 80% to vote in a provincial election, just 53.55% of eligible voters cast a ballot in the Nova Scotia election. That mark was down nearly 5 percentage points from the 2013 election.
This wasn't about hard-hitting interviews with crafty messaging. Each leader acknowledged all those who ran, despite the party. Elections are hard-fought, but like hockey, in the end, people will shake hands.
photos credit: CBC News Nova Scotia