Thursday, January 24, 2008

There's something happening here, What it is ain't exactly clear

A pair of pre-election polls were released this week, painting very different pictures of the upcoming Alberta election. If you only look at the horse race numbers, there’s not much to be cheerful about in Liberal land – the Strategic Counsel had the PCs at 58% of decided voters, while Leger had them at 49%. I tend to think the former fell victim to a bit of federal/provincial confusion (they didn't put leader names in the question) but even the second set of numbers leave the parties pretty much where they were at the end of the last election campaign.

Above and beyond that, the Tories should be feeling pretty good since they do better with older Albertans (who vote) and rural Albertans (whose votes are worth more). If you buy the Strategic Counsel poll, just about the only good news for the Alberta Liberals is that 54% of Albertans think 37 years is too long for one party rule (almost half of Albertans don’t?!?!). Even the 39% who think it’s time for a change in that poll is dwarfed by the number who want to re-elect Mr. Ed.

Today’s poll tells a completely different story. A third of voters are undecided and the decided votes breaks down as:

Progressive Conservatives 32%
Alberta Liberals 18%
New Democrats 7%
Wild Rose Alliance 6%
Greens 3%

Not bad if you’re a PC, ‘till you look at this one:

Time for a Change 46%
Re-elect the Tories 35%

Which means the undecideds are, by and large, breaking against the government. Calgary, especially, has got to be an area of concern for them with Taft in a statistical tie with Stelmach on the “best Premier” question.

Of course, I don’t expect the Alberta Liberals to lose Redmonton, even though both polls say they might, so I can see why Conservatives wouldn’t expect to lose a city they have dominated for 40 years. But, I’m telling ya, I was in Calgary for most of last year and there was something in the air. Ed Stelmach has become a punch line…but not in the benign “Ralph Klein is a drunk” way – in the much more dangerous “we hate Ed Stelmach” sort of way.

So, with the writ expected to fall within the next dozen days, it’s looking like this will be an election to watch.

UPDATE: More numbers today, with pretty damning approval ratings for Stelmach on most issues, especially the two biggest in the province right now. On health care, 28% approve and 60% disapprove, while on affordable housing 23% approve and 63% disapprove.

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  • I've never voted Liberal in my life - it would be a sin in my family to do so.

    However, Ron Stevens is my MLA and he is more liberal than the Liberal Avalon Roberts so I plan on voting for her. I think a few more opposition MLAs would help this province so I figure it doesn't hurt to give her a shot.

    I would consider voting Wildrose Alliance, but that David Crutcher fellow is running in Calgary Glenmore, and he creeps me out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:49 p.m.  

  • I fear the discontent with Stelmach will translate into votes for the SC or the WA. There are just too many people like anon above.

    The oilpatch is starting to see some consequences of the royalties decision, and they are not happy. They are concerned that if the liberals win it will get worse. I do not hear about it here in Edmonton but my colleagues in Calgary are getting quite vocal about it.

    I live in Taft's riding and would love to see him as premier, but, despite your optimism, I am not going to hold my breath.

    Mind you, I suppose there could be some fluke like what happened in Quebec and all the protest votes may go to the liberals.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 10:04 p.m.  

  • I'm surprised by The Wildrose Alliance numbers. I wonder if they might be receiving at least a portion of the protest vote.

    Note the "second choice" vote in the Strategic Counsel poll. Wildrose Alliance numbers are very high. In the new Leger poll the "approve" numbers imho represent potential votes above existing poll numbers.

    If Hinman can pull a Harper and seem human (and dare I say compasionate) during the campaign, the Wildrose Alliance might have a chance of picking up a sizeable portion of the anti-Stelmach PC protest vote which might have just went to the Liberals by default.

    I'm pessimistic about Liberal chances overall, but I think there could be some very good news for Taft in and around Calgary in the next provincial election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:55 p.m.  

  • What has happened is that Eddy decided to be wishy washy on the royalties issue in an attempt to make everyone happy, what he ended up with is making everyone angry. The Conservative crowd don't like that he is messing with the biggest industry in the province and potentially screwing with peoples jobs, the Liberal crowd wasn't going to be happy unless he raised royalties way higher, even then they probably wouldn't vote Conservative. If he had held his ground and kept royalties the same or maybe slightly increased them he would have solidified a base that is very loyal. If he had totally caved he would have stolen a bunch of votes from Taft but at the same time he would have split the right vote with the Wildrose guys. Stelmach is making a huge blunder by trying to extend himself too far to the left, the majority of Albertans are Conservative federally/provincially and more Liberal municipally. If he keeps down this path he is going to split the right vote and that may give the Liberals a bunch more seats, I don't see any chance of Taft winning the big seat though. Steady Eddy is kinda like Dion, he is the compromise candidate and probably the worst choice the convention could have made.

    In case you are wondering I live in Calgary.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 p.m.  

  • I feel these poll numbers are only getting my hopes up for change. Even if Taft was at 80% popularity I would still bet on a PC victory, but that is just by inner cynic talking.

    For those of you in Alberta, what is the good word on the fall out from Stelmach's environment plan?

    By Blogger Wheatsheaf, at 9:48 a.m.  

  • It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine....

    By Blogger Glen, at 11:33 a.m.  

  • The wildrose alliance would get a big boost if Hinman gets into the debates and actually gets treated as a credible candidate this campaign. A lot of PC voters could in theory jump that way if they think the party is credible and not just a bunch of Craig Chandler types.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:32 p.m.  

  • Wow, there is a great deal of useful data above!

    By Anonymous, at 12:46 p.m.  

  • By Blogger Unknown, at 7:44 a.m.  

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