Monday, December 14, 2009

Federal and Provincial Results in Alberta

Back in October, I compared provincial and federal electoral results in Ontario and Quebec. It actually came as a surprise that a correlation could be drawn between the two.

I then set out to look at British Columbia, but had to give up. There simply is no correlation! The race has been almost exclusively between two parties, the BC Liberals and the NDP, which do far better in provincial elections than their federal counterparts do in federal elections. There is no consistent third party, and in the last 20 years there have been many different parties that have come and gone.

I then took a look at Alberta, and found some basis for comparison. Note - I combined the Progressive Conservatives results with the results of the Wildrose Alliance and Social Credit party. While the WA will be a factor in the next election, they weren't really in past elections. And it solves the problem of the Progressive Conservative and Reform/Canadian Alliance split in the 1990s.What is amazing is that there is actually a very close correlation between provincial results and federal results in Alberta.

First, let's look at the Greens. Both levels of the party were insignificant until 2004, when they both picked up some votes. They then continued that progression to 2008.

Now the NDP. At the end of the 1980s, the two parties were factors in Alberta. But then in the early 90s their support dropped off significantly. They've only managed to gain some ground since 2004, and are currently at about the same level of support. In other words, provincial NDP supporters are federal NDP supporters.

The Liberal provincial trend mirrors the federal trend very closely, with an extra 10 points or so. They both saw almost identical gains in 1993, and then saw slow decline throughout the rest of the 1990s and into this decade. One important difference, however, is that the federal Liberals are now neck-and-neck with the NDP whereas the provincial Liberals are safely ahead.

Finally, the Progressive Conservative and Conservative parties. Since I've included the Canadian Alliance and the Wildrose Alliance in these calculations, we'll call this the (small-c) conservative vote. These two levels of voting don't match as nicely, but we do see some correlation. For instance, at both levels the conservative vote improved at the end of the 1990s, but dipped in 2004. It has also improved a little bit the last few years.

The emergence of the Wildrose Alliance will make provincial politics difficult to use as a guide for federal politics, at least for the Conservative Party. However, a rise or fall in Liberal and NDP fortunes at the provincial level could be an indication of things to come for their federal counterparts, and vice versa.