Friday, November 06, 2009

This Week in Alberta - All Good Things...

With Ed Stelmach's leadership review vote coming up tomorrow (I'll be sure to post the results, and offer analysis, as soon as the numbers hit Twitter), this is certainly not welcome news for the embatled Premier:


Across the province, 34 per cent of decided voters say they support the Tories, down from 55 per cent a year ago.

The Wildrose party, under new leader Danielle Smith, is now the solid second choice of Albertans, with 28 per cent support. The Liberals have the support of 20 per cent and the NDP nine. Despite being deregistered by Elections Alberta, the Green Party polled at eight per cent.

The numbers suggest the Wildrose Alliance is particularly strong in Calgary, polling 34 per cent among decided voters, compared to 30 per cent for the Tories.

The Wildrose appears to have considerably less support in Edmonton, where it polled in third place, with 17 per cent of decided voters. The Conservatives polled at 34 per cent support, the Liberals 27 and the NDP at 13 per cent.

Outside the major cities, 38 per cent of decided voters say they would cast ballots for the PCs, 32 per cent for the Wildrose party and 15 per cent for the Liberals.


It's hard to project what numbers like this would mean in terms of seats, especially when you consider how little is known about the Wildrosers or their leader. But the Alliance are ahead in Calgary and are highly competitive in rural Alberta. Throw in Redmonton's history of turning on the PCs, and Stelmach is looking out at a very unstable political landscape. A lot can change in 2 or 3 years but, right now, an election would probably produce the first minority government in Alberta's history.

Over the past two months, I've mused on here from time to time about the possibility of Alberta's 38-year old political dynasty crumbling. And this would definitely follow the pattern.

To recap, in 1971 the SoCreds were swept aside by the PCs, a party that had never governed Alberta and had won just 6 seats in the previous campaign, up from 0 the election before that.

36 years earlier, the Socreds, having never elected an MLA before, completely wiped out the United Farmers of Alberta.

18 years earlier, the UFA, having never won a seat, took out the Liberals, who had governed Alberta since its founding.

So Danielle Smith (Fun Fact: Rome wasn't built in a day, but only because Danielle Smith wasn't there) certainly has history on her side.

After tomorrow, we should have a good idea of who Smith and history will be up against.

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16 Comments:

  • Oh, and for the record, I think Stelmach is safe.

    I'll say he gets 78%.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:34 AM  

  • Which is 2% less than members of caucus are predicting ie: 80%. They are setting the floor pretty high...

    By Blogger Kyle G. Olsen, at 10:21 AM  

  • The UFA? Wow, it is rare that one ever sees a reference to the grassroots based Henry Wise Wood & co. - good analogy!

    By Blogger Fat Arse, at 11:51 AM  

  • In 1971 the PC's use of TV helped; and in 1935 Aberhart's use of radio certainly helped a lot. The internet may help, but all parties are somewhat aware of that now. Stelmach does not have an advantage here.

    The UFA and the Socreds also had widespread local organizations, since both started as movements with their own aims, not just as political parties looking for power. The Reform Party started as a political party with the stated aim of reforming government, which they have now betrayed completely. The WAP so far is just a political party and it seems to me its aims are fuzzy: maybe it's back to the nineteenth century!

    By Blogger Holly Stick, at 12:58 PM  

  • Actually, the UFA won a byelection in Cochrane, of all places, in 1919. A UFA MP was elected in 1921, before the provincial election.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Farmers_of_Alberta

    By Blogger Holly Stick, at 1:32 PM  

  • HS - cool. I believe the PCs went on a wave of by election wins (and floor crossings) before their big 1971 break through as well.

    And we've already seen that with Glenmore - although we also saw that in Elbow before the last election, so maybe it's best not to read too much into that.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:49 PM  

  • Yes, I think the WAP is not too focussed and they are getting the protest vote right now; but do they have any positive aims? Stelmach has turned into Strom, but Smith is no Lougheed.

    Some of them claim they are for public health care and I really find that hard to believe, with Danielle Smith wanting to defund abortions, which is not a socially progressive position but an anti-abortion wedge position.

    By Blogger Holly Stick, at 1:57 PM  

  • I've been thinking and I'm unsure about what can occur here.

    Granted the Tories are in a bit of trouble, but they've been here before. By all accounts, they should have been wiped out in 1993. They weren't because they saw what was happening and changed leaders.

    If they do the same this time, which they very well might because it is a strategy that has worked before, who could replace Stelmach?

    By Blogger Volkov, at 2:14 PM  

  • I don't follow Alberta Provincial politics, but it seems to me that the Parties who need to worry about this are the ones polling even lower than the brand new Party.

    If your Party is eight points back of a Party that was rather unknown just a few months ago, what are your prospects?

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 2:41 PM  

  • Here's the link for the full article you quoted above. You forgot to mention it's from a Canwest paper.

    Canwest: where Ms. Smith was on the editorial board of one of its papers, hosted a national show on its TV network and is married to executive producer at same TV network. C'mon get a grip, Grit! ;)

    By Blogger lyrical, at 7:09 PM  

  • I don't follow Alberta Provincial politics, but it seems to me that the Parties who need to worry about this are the ones polling even lower than the brand new Party.

    If your Party is eight points back of a Party that was rather unknown just a few months ago, what are your prospects?


    Ya, you probably know more about Nuclear Physics than Alberta politics. But thanks for your input...

    By Blogger McLea, at 9:12 PM  

  • Two words--and three letters:

    Mario Dumont/ADQ

    By Anonymous ace, at 10:35 PM  

  • Paul,

    That is the odd thing about Alberta politics. The smaller, no-name parties always come up and somehow take out the ruling party. Why this happens, no idea, its like a event of mythological proportions... but it happens.

    The difference though is that while larger parties doing worse in the polls than the smaller party, like the Liberals and the NDP, are still holding their base supporters and aren't letting go.

    That is a good sign for them, and possibly a bad sign for Smith and the WAP, because now if thats true, she is limited to the PC base which, while very substantial, most likely won't abandon the Tories altogether.

    By Blogger Volkov, at 2:10 AM  

  • Volkov, if you can explain it to me, in simple terms? Let's say the Alberta PCs are going to win, say, 30 seats in the next election. And the new Party will win 20 seats. With the old Liberal Party winning, say, 15 seats.

    Is my math really that wrong?

    Or will the Alberta Liberals win twice as many seats as their popularity might suggest?

    Wouldn't it kinda suck to be them>?

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 3:59 AM  

  • Paul,

    Your math isn't necessarily wrong, so much as it is in the wrong place.

    Alberta politics is quite fickle, So while the Liberals may be only getting 15 seats (they have 9 right now, by the way) on paper, in results they may be getting more, especially if the right is split. In places like Calgary were the Liberals did quite well last time because of the anti-Stelmach vote, all they need to do is retain say, 60% of those voters, and they'll be propelled into first in quite a few ridings because of vote splitting on the right.

    And even if they cannot retain the Stelmach voters, there is many ridings in Edmonton that are Liberal friendly with or without anti-Stelmachers in which vote splitting might occur.

    Combine that with a moderately weak NDP, an organizationally thin WAP, and a good distribution of votes, and the Liberals could end up with quite a few seats.

    And it wouldn't really suck for them to win 15 seats and hold the balance of power in a Tory minority government. It is a sad fact that the Liberals and the Alberta Tories are seemingly closer in ideology than the Tories and the Wildrosers.

    By Blogger Volkov, at 5:15 PM  

  • Quite useful piece of writing, thank you for this article.

    By Anonymous www.malaga-3d.com, at 3:28 PM  

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