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.


  1. Winnipeg free press/Probe poll of federal voting intentions in Manitoba

    Conservatives finally crack 50%, but it is before Copenhagen and detainee flip flap

  2. Eric, does this analysis indicate somewhat that people do not completely differentiate between federal and Provincial parties of the same name??

  3. Hard to say. If parties have similar platforms and views, it would come as no surprise that they have the same supporters. And any marketer could tell you about the importance of brand loyalty.

  4. Why is it of any significance for the a poll to have the Tories at 50% in Manitoba? They got 49% there in the last election - so whoop-dee-doo - one percent more!!! I thought that the Tories were counting on gaining ground on the Prairies to make up for expected losses elsewhere - this is just status quo.

    These numbers would mean that not a single seat in Manitoba would change hands.

  5. Eric, new Angus Reid Strategies poll just released:

  6. I do think the current rise of provincial Liberal support in Alberta is primarily the result of Ed Stelmach driving away voters. Those people who've voted PC for decades (with possible forays into opposition parties during the Don Getty years) are now searching for a party to support. The Liberals are getting a boost from that (I suspect much of that support will eventually land with Wildrose once they have a more complete electoral team in place).

  7. You don't think polls follow the same principle as the stock market DL??

    Up and down within a range... very hard to break the high cap or the low cap.... but milemarks. (like 50, .. dollar at par, etc...) whether moving up or down tend to reset new ranges.

    It is only 1% but it could be a tipping point to 45-55 instead of 40-50.

    angus reid national

  8. Thanks Anonymous, already on it.

  9. Ira,

    Based on the last poll featured on this site, the Alberta Liberals are sitting at the same support they got in the last election, which was about the same they got in 2004. I doubt there's been any vote parking with them for the WRA.

  10. Every time I read this blog my IQ drops a few points.

    Before coming to the conclusion that people who vote for the NDP provincially also vote for the NDP federally, look at the Calgary numbers.

    Besides that, there is no way to match provincial and federal ballots. Coming to that conclusion without clarifying that is only an assumption is deceitful.

  11. No no, every NDP voter at the provincial level is an NDP voter at the federal level. Every single one of them.

    Because that's totally what I said.


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