Friday, January 27, 2012

This Week in Alberta - Flanagan Gets Back in the Saddle

With an Alberta election on the horizon this spring, the Wildrose Alliance have brought on Tom Flanagan to manage their campaign. For those of you who have never heard of Tom Flanagan, he was a political science professor at the University of Calgary (go Dinos!), and a key Harper strategist during his leadership run. Flanagan was the Conservative campaign manager in the 2004 federal election, so I can only hope it wasn't his idea to hold a "victory march" across Alberta in the campaign's closing weekend.

Since his exit from politics, Flanagan has writen a well-received book and several candid and fascinating articles on Canadian politics. Among his observations are that political attacks "don't have to be true, they just have to be plausible" - so I think that should give you an idea of the type of campaign the Wildrosers are gearing up for.

As for how that campaign goes, the latest poll shows Flanagan with a 9 point gap to overcome:

PCs 38%
Wildrose 29%
Liberals 14%
NDP 13%
Alberta Party 3%

Or...errr...a 37 point one:

PC 53%
Wildrose 16%
NDP 13%
Liberals 11%

Given the media seems to have quickly recovered from their case of Danielle-mania that plagued them throughout 2010, this is being spun as part of the "PCs cruising" narrative. It's starting to look like the Wildrose Party is merely playing for second place.

I'm not so convinced.

Of course, the smart money is on PCs winning a majority, but these polls reflect the level of uncertainty out there, which is to be expected when the top three parties enter the campaign with rookie leaders. And considering Danielle Smith remains the most impressive politician in this field, it would be foolish to count her out completely - just as it was foolish to assume she was unstoppable two years ago, after an unproven party won a single by election by the skin of its teeth.

The fact of the matter is, Alberta politics have become highly unpredictable and unstable in recent years, and campaigns matter. Give me long enough odds, and I'd gladly put some money down on Danielle and Dr. Tom giving the PCs a run this spring.

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  • How similar do these polls reflect the polls taken prior to the 2008 election? From my recollection, polls then showed Taft's Liberals in a similar, inconsistent range.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:38 a.m.  

  • That's my memory too, although I think any optimism around the Liberals was built more on the media narrative than actual polling, which always showed them well back.

    I'll be curious to see how the polls go this campaign. They were actually fairly accurate in 2008, except for the final Angus Reid one.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:54 p.m.  

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