The Ontario PC leader, John Tory, won a seat in the legislature last night. It was in some ways a typical by-election. The government candidate, Liberal Bob Duncanson, lost badly while the NDP and Greens made gains. The Liberal mistake was to contest the by-election. It gives voters a free pass to whack the government over various grievances.
I can take a by-election outcome and a calculate a province-wide result by comparing the results to the previous provincial election. Last night's result would produce a virtual tie between the PCs and the NDP in popular vote (with the NDP having a slight edge) but it would give the PC's a minority win - 50 seats. Last spring's Hamilton East by-election, actually won by the NDP, would have given the third party an easy win province-wide victory.
While one should take such projections with a huge grain of salt, there is no doubt that the Liberals performed quite badly in both instances. On this one, where they had the excuse, they should not have nominated a candidate.