Friday, December 11, 2009

This Week in Alberta - This One Came Out Of Right Field

Alberta politics tend to stay dormant for 30 years at a time. But when they wake up - watch out! The latest from Angus Reid:

The surging Wildrose Alliance party would form the next provincial government in Alberta if an election were held tomorrow, according to a new poll of decided voters that gives the right-of-centre party a double-digit lead in popular support over the long-ruling Tories.

A new Angus Reid Public Opinion survey of 1,000 Albertans suggests 39% of voters would cast a ballot for Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Alliance.

The fledgling party is pulling away from Premier Ed Stelmach's Progressive Conservatives, who were tied with David Swann's Liberals for second place with the backing of 25% of decided voters province-wide, according to the poll.

Brian Mason and the NDP are in fourth spot with the support of 9% of Alberta voters, while 2% said they would vote for another party.

Yup, the PCs are tied for second with the Liberals...ouch.

The good news for Ed Stelmach is he has two years - during which time the price of oil should rise - to recover from this. He's already survived his leadership vote, but a few more polls like this and we may start seeing some defections.

No one would have called it back in January, but 2009 has proven to be the most interesting year in Alberta politics since the early 90s. Stay tuned.

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  • Na Na Na Na.
    Na Na Na Na.
    Hey Hey Hey.

    By Anonymous Jim Dinning, at 11:08 AM  

  • This isn't any different than the polls we saw before the last election that showed half of Albertans undecided - the only different now is that undecideds are parking their votes with Smith.

    Once they realize what a Wild Rose government would look like, their support will plummet. Expect another Stelmach majority in 2012.

    By Anonymous Deb, at 11:25 AM  

  • "Expect another Stelmach majority in 2012."

    Hahaha. Do you even live in Alberta?

    This poll is precisely the kind of thing that hastens the cascade. The PCs are done.

    By Anonymous Mike, at 11:56 AM  

  • "The PCs are done."

    Maybe--but the same people under a different party banner will carry on their work.

    By Anonymous ace, at 2:31 PM  

  • Wildrose Alliance does not represent change -- certainly not from a progressive perspective.
    Social Credit ruled Alberta from 1935 to 1974 by catering to the province’s right-wing, rural and religious voters.
    In 1974, those voters felt their issues were being ignored. They dumped Social Credit under Premier Harry Strom and flocked to what at the time was the progressive Progressive Conservative Party under Peter Lougheed. As the party pandered to those same right-wing, rural and religious Albertans, the party became less progressive and more conservative until they became essentially a rebranded Social Credit.
    Thirty-five years on, the same thing is happening. Premier Stelmach has treated his right-wing, rural and religious supporters like shit in favour of pandering to the interests of Big Oil and Big Health Insurance.
    But don’t be fooled by the Wildrose Alliance. It’s the same group of right-wing, rural and religious voters who are looking for a new Messiah to favour with their votes. In time, they will morph into the Conservatives and then into Social Credit.
    Don’t be surprised to see a bunch of current Conservative MLAs move over to join the Wildrose Alliance. They either transform into Wildrosers or face the prospect of returning to the real world and getting a real job.
    Wildrose represents the status quo. With their global warming denials, their thinly-veiled anti-abortion stance, pro-private health care plans and pro-business perspectives, it’s not a welcome place to park a progressive vote. As the party develops policies to woo more right-wing, rural and religious votes away from the Conservatives, it will become less progressive and more conservative. In essence, exactly where we are today.
    Having said that, it will be fun watching the Tories and Wildrosers eat each other’s young, jockeying for position to see who can court the most right-wing, rural and religious votes. That is, until they figure out that they are one and the same and that all this amounts to is yet another rebranding exercise, more pointless than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
    La plus ca change . . .

    By Anonymous Robert Gerard, at 3:37 PM  

  • According to some, these polls are reminiscent of the polls during the early 90's when Getty was still leader, with the Liberals pulling very far ahead of the Tories, and even the NDP were in second place. However, we do know that the Liberals lost in '93 because of a change in circumstance (and leaders) for the Tories. I'd be careful with any early eulogies in light of that.

    By Blogger Volkov, at 3:44 PM  

  • What does this mean for the liberals? I mean, they're now beating the Tories in the major cities, and they're 14 points behind the Wild Rose (which is a lot, but a lot less than what they're used to being behind by). The next election's a long way off, so it's tough to say too much, but I can't help but wonder if this would mean they could pick up some seats.

    By Anonymous bluntobjects, at 4:16 PM  

  • bluntobjects,

    You're absolutely right. The Liberals will almost be certain to pick up some seats if they can keep their base supporters in line - which, so far, they have, even in the face of the Wildrose onslaught. The Tories, while down, are still enough of a factor to split the vote in favour of the Liberals, and that could be especially true in Calgary and Edmonton ridings.

    By Blogger Volkov, at 4:22 PM  

  • blunto -- as long as the Grey Ghost of Alberta politics aka Dr. David Swann remains at the helm of the Libs, they ain't going nowhere! Even when he's standing in Question Period asking inane questions and fumbling to remain current if not relevant, he's all but invisible. And the rise of the Wild Hairs isn't doing him or what's left of the party any favours. What the Libs need is a Ralph Klein, Tommy Douglas, Pierre Trudeau-style rabble rouser who can make himself and the party heard over the noise of either of the right-wing slaves to Big Oil and Big Health Care.

    By Anonymous Robert Gerard, at 4:24 PM  

  • Right now the Liberals aren't poised to form government, the right-wing vote split will definitely let them pick up some extra seats.

    Sadly, the party hasn't really positioned itself well to pick up the time-for-a-change/anti-Stelmach vote that's out there. Otherwise, they could be the beneficiaries (like in the early 90s).

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:01 PM  

  • Volkov - Yup, it's definitely too early for eulogies and there are a lot of similarities to the early 90s.

    But the PCs likely won't change leaders this time, and I think we can agree Getty would have been steamrolled in '93 had he stayed on.

    Like I said above, the economy will pick up over the next 2 years which should help. Stelmach has time to turn it around, and once people look at the Wildrosers, they're going to have a lot of questions about their ability to govern.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:04 PM  

  • I think it would be great to have a party in Canada with a prettier name than the usual political-label branding!

    By Anonymous Jason Bo Green, at 5:11 PM  

  • What if.....we had an Alberta Party, instead of the Liberals, but with the same folks involved as before? I'm guessing 5 to 10% on top of their 25%, equally taken from the WRA and the PCP.

    By Anonymous Finnegan, at 5:26 PM  

  • Finnegan,

    So, if you're saying that the Alberta parties should remove all federal brands, we get:

    Conservatives = Wild Rose
    Liberals = Alberta Party

    Where does that leave the New Democrats?

    The Lodgepole Pine Party?
    The Petrified Wood Party?
    The Big Horn Party?

    And what do we call the Greens?

    By Anonymous James Bow, at 9:56 PM  

  • If you were going to federally compensate some lost oil sands growth, not beyond what would otherwise cause high wage inflation for other AB sectors, I wonder if the bizs/cities/prov would prefer growing industries (maybe just building hospitals and nursing schools/immigrants) or tangential industries like geothermal (drilling), wind turbines, petrochems, natural gas, batteries (the tech here is natural replacement for gasoline), CCS (up to as a large a % share as is the tech likeyl to work as avertised) high speed rail manufacturing infrastructure...

    By Anonymous Phillip Huggan, at 11:31 PM  

  • A meaningless poll made for nothing more then for some Alberta newspapers to sell some extra copies.

    Like has been mentioned there isn't going to be another election for over two years. Increase the price of natural gas in the interim and I think you'll see the PC's numbers spike up pretty hard.

    But if it were to hold until the next election call it would certainly create an interesting campaign for a change. It is interesting that the ALP's support is unchanged, suggesting that the WRA is mostly drawing from the Tories. Create the impression that the good/bad ship Stelmach is going under and I wonder how many urban ridings they could pick up... enough to hold the balance of power in a minority?

    By Blogger JF, at 2:34 AM  

  • Regardless of who loses or gains in the next election, we do need an opposition. That is why some of us will vote WRA next time around. The lib leader can go on another hunger strike. Only this time, instead of no food, he will have no votes.
    It is strange why one votes for or against a person. It is usually some decision they made as a cabinet minister. In Ed's case, for southern Alberta, it was the route of the Canmex highway. Cost several millions more than the original route, and still raises arguments at the coffee shops.

    By Blogger maryT, at 12:23 PM  

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