Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Alberta Votes Day 3: Time to bring back Ed?

In retrospect, maybe it wasn't such a good idea for Alison Redford to call the election after a month of wall-to-wall scandal and controversy.

Two more polls have been released today - let's start with the bad news for Alison Redford.

Leger Marketing confirms the statistical tie we saw in two polls Monday: PC 37%, WRP 34%, ALP 12%, NDP 11%. Keep in mind, Leger had the Tories leading by 37 points in January.

From the bad news, we move to the worse news. The Sun's Forum poll shows the Wildrose Party leading by 10 points. The tendency when many polls comes out at once is to gravitate to the most salacious results - when the opposite is likely more appropriate. So, as shocking as these numbers are, we're probably best to look at all four polls that have come out and conclude it's a dead heat between the PCs and the Wildrosers, with the Liberals and NDP far, far behind.

Which is bad news for Alison Redford - especially if you share my opinion that Danielle Smith is the superior politician, and is likely to "outplay" Redford during the campaign. That's already apparent from Monday's ThinkHQ poll which shows Smith's momentum score at +11 and Redford's at -20.

The good news for the PCs - if there is any - is that there's still plenty of time to counter punch. This is going to put a lot of scrutiny on Smith's team and platform. The analogy I like to use is of Mario Dumont, back when Mario Dumont was still cool. The ADQ was nothing more than a one-man show, and once it looked like he might actually win in 2007, Jean Charest was able to use the prospect of an ADQ government to recover. So warning to fringe Wildrose candidates - start prepping for media calls!

The question, of course, is whether Alison Redford is as deft a politician as Jean Charest. On that question, I have my doubts.

In other polling news, the Alberta Liberals have released their internal numbers. It's a long survey for a robo-poll so we need to look at the results with caution, but the vote numbers largely match what we've seen in the media, so we can likely take the numbers at face value.

Of course, the intent of the release is not to re-enforce bad horse race numbers, but to highlight the party's platform which tested relatively well. On that score, there's strong agreement with the ALP's Health Care and education policies, and their revenue generation plans to increase taxes on the richest Albertans and largest corporations.

Now, the real test of a policy is not so much whether voters agree with it, but whether it moves votes - after all, the most "popular" policy tested is one giving more power to MLAs, but I'm skeptical that will motivate voters. And the results when it comes to moving votes are rather underwhelming - after hearing the entire platform, 36% of respondents are more likely to vote Liberal and 32% are less likely to.

And if all of that wasn't enough polling data for you, Santos Sez has compiled the fascinating chart above of Alberta election polls over the past four years. Suffice to say, Redford's recent polling numbers are downright Stelmachian. So much for that honeymoon.

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  • Admittedly MB is hooked on non-beatable (should offer some full-pays) VLT revenue. AB is now hooked on tar revenue. The rainy day fund to diversify tax base; raided in high oil/coal/tar (low gas) times, admittedly the recession gives cover. AB does not tax her rich enough. The rich are petro shareholders. And food, real estate, etc. To me, the most productive people in AB are peat researchers who publish in coal journals, MPB researchers trying to kill MPB and reforest, agri-researchers making up for AGW future, health and NIN researchers and typical mix of businesses that permit diversification; maybe one will invent a future NG market. With maybe more future precipitation the belt of land above the Yellowhead can turn into some farms and hydro: cities can be born. MB Hydro funds greenhouse prototypes. Halifax has little farmland nearby. Edmonton even without tar is poised for growth as the entire north half of the province should be better for farming. Probably this means natural gas for fertilizer from Edmonton to The Pas and north, might be economical. Either that or potash is a better investment than coddling tar. The rich can be inefficient and when they are, taxing is the solution if the redistribution to other private or public actors is efficient. 2012 climate is efficient and needs *global* low footprint energy. I just want a $5 total carbon tax and I'll be budget happy. For $30M liability cap I'd build my pipelines down hydro and wind company head offices.

    Weird Toronto didn't go for toll roads. Sprawl makes it hard to live and work anywhere if you don't drive, Calgary or Toronto. My T.O. landlord was ambivalent about the subway stop but it is why she had me as a tenant. Jobs are downtown or in industrial parks, and those aren't the Toll locations...enjoys your commutes and non-Zenn exhaust, deservingly.

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 11:36 a.m.  

  • Yeah an even split between like/dislikes doesn't seem great, but the Liberals are at 10%, so it sure seems far more appealing than the party.

    Alberta Liberals look to be creating a platform full of hard wedges. We'll see how it plays out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:42 a.m.  

  • Also, it occurs to me if it's an even split with the kitchen sink approach, you'd have to assume that using this data to target messaging would give the Libs good results.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:46 a.m.  

  • At the very least, the Liberals need to differentiate themselves from Redford, and their platform does accomplish that.

    If they can somehow claw back up to their 2008 levels of support (which seems unlikely), then they'd really be in a position to take advantage of the vote split.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:46 a.m.  

  • I think the problem is worse than you think.

    There's been an inadequate distinction between Liberal and PC policy for quite a long time. Choosing a PC as leader, and the PCs choosing someone perceived to be moderate progressive as leader, makes that inadequate distinction almost imperceptible.

    Furthermore, since the primary contender is the Wildrose, much of the traditional Liberal voter base might support Redford's PCs.

    Don't get me wrong, I think there's a huge opportunity for someone to come up the middle when the PCs and Wildrose duke it out, but the Liberals are currently poorly positioned to be the beneficiary.

    The Liberals should slide to the left and target NDP voters. But they won't. So they'll lose.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 12:38 p.m.  

  • First off, love that word "Stelmachian"!

    If ALP, NDP, and AbP got together, it could very well be a three way race, as it's obvious the PCs are syphoning support from those parties in some way. That said, there's very little support left in those parties to top up the PCs. PCs seem to be in retreat mode. However many conservatives are left in the PCs, that's where Smith can pull more votes, and hope the continued lag of traditional PC support simply doesn't show up.

    By Blogger Mike B., at 12:43 p.m.  

  • What the Alberta political spectrum likely should reallign too, is something along the lines of:

    1. Wildrose on right
    2. New centrist party that's a mash-up of PCs, Liberals, and ABP
    3. Stronger NDP on left

    I'm not sure that will happen, even if Wildrose wins the election, but something's likely gonna give after this campaign.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:59 p.m.  

  • Or, conversely, the Libs/NDP/ABP "merging" like Hatrock suggests - though that's a tough sell for both Lib and NDP rank and file.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:00 p.m.  

  • Aye, the various progressive parties should merge, but when the Libs brought that up after last election, the response from the NDP base was a big NO, so... Kinda the same issue plaguing the federal parties. And the Alberta Party is composed of a lot of people who dislike the people running the ALP's office... I managed to sit in on a discussion between Hehr and an AP supporters and the APPLE supporter liked Kent, liked the ALP's platform, but hated the ALP'S and the federal Liberals... Got the impression that that was the standard feeling among APPLE supporters. So... I might see the AP and the NDs working together, but both of them want to replace the Liberals, not work with them, unfortunately....

    By Blogger Unknown, at 1:48 p.m.  

  • What about an eventual collapse of the PC Party, like what happened with the Federal Liberals?

    I am not talking about it being limited to this election, I am thinking a little further down in the future.

    I could see this legislature being a Tory Minority, which collapses in 2 years. Then a WRA minority, which enacts campaign finance reform. Afterwards a WRA majority, but in that last election the PC party support collapses and a new opposition party emerges.

    I know Flanagan is running this campaign and based on my impression it is likely his trying his Punic War Strategy against the Tories.

    Flanagan has not been as open as what is long term strategy against the Tories as he was with the Federal Liberals but there are some indications this is the strategy he will follow.

    If so the Liberals would be wise to team up with the WRA and execute this strategy. Just as the NDP and the Tories have done federally. The only thing which would be necessary is for the Liberal seat count to increase in this election to a more respectable number.

    If as you suggest the vote splitting will play an important role, then I would not be surprised to see the Liberals gain a few seats in Edmonton, which might just make up for the losses in Calgary and even add to their overall seat total.

    Despite the massive loss in support in the popular vote, the seat count increase could create the impression there is still a strong Alberta Liberal Party which the Liberals could use to build the party and make it a Liberal/WRA split in the province.

    Its a long shot and I actually think the NDP is a wee bit better positioned to execute this strategy, but who knows if the stars line up correctly this could work.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:46 p.m.  

  • I don't care about localized enviro effects so much, except as pertains to farming. AB is committing $3B to envirofund...their precipitation might be too low for Sphagnum fuscum, the species that phenol strangulates a carbon-emitting enzyme. I figure I can put wood in there if wet...
    Safer is higher precipitation N.Ont to Labrador...grow fuscum bogs there. It is a soil additive and future antibacterial drug, but not that important to have locally.
    I endorse WR and PCs in a coalition government.

    By Anonymous The Keystone Garter, at 4:22 p.m.  

  • The merger on the left/centre isn't that difficult to sell to Liberals if you point out that their platform is more popular than their party. Get a new name, merge into the Alberta Party, do something. It doesn't take a "rocket-surgeon" to figure out that the "Liberal" brand is toxic outside of 7 constituencies in the Province.

    By Blogger R, at 4:46 p.m.  

  • Just for fun, what happens if we get a seat count like this:

    PC 35
    WRA 38
    ALP 10
    NDP 4

    Anyone think the ALP would be willing to prop up Smith for a year, in exchange for Democratic Reform package of some sorts?

    Now, would they be willing to do that if you flipped the PC and WRA seat numbers?

    Could get interesting...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:57 p.m.  

  • I could see the ALP propping up either the PCs and WRA in that type of situation. But it wouldn't be the best strategic move for ALP in my opinion.

    Better option would be to announce out of the gate they are not supporting either party. Force the two parties to support one another and the narrative could be created that the WRA and PC party are not different to encourage Red Tories to join the ALP.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:13 p.m.  

  • CG, do you really think that the ALP has a chance of 10 seats? Only 1 hand will be required.

    Now that Wildrose is ahead, my high school classmate Alison will start an ABW offensive. Liberal and NDP voters will save her and the province from the Reformers.

    Unfortunately, it will hurt my parent's goddaugter, Josipa, who most surely will be the third female leader in Alberta politics if she wins her riding.

    By Blogger MississaugaPeter, at 9:24 p.m.  

  • From looking at that polling graph, it would appear that dumping David Swann was an incredibly stupid decision by the Liberals.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 3:58 a.m.  

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