Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Race narrows in Alberta, provincial NDP makes gains

Last week, the Edmonton Journal reported on a provincial political poll conducted by Abingdon Research for the Wildrose Alliance. Obviously, polls paid for and provided by political parties need to be taken with a grain of salt. We do not know how the questions were worded, in what order they were placed, and whether the Wildrose Alliance has kept more negative polls under wraps. But the results jive generally with the last polls we've seen from the province, so I think we can proceed with only a little bit of caution.
The poll is now almost a month old, but it showed the Progressive Conservatives leading the pack with 33.5% support, ahead of the Wildrose Alliance at 28.6%.

The Liberals trailed with 15.1%, tied with the New Democrats at 14.7%. The Alberta Party stands at 5.2%.

We don't really have a previous poll to compare this to, but if take the two polls that were released in January by Environics and Trend Research and average them out, we can see that the PCs have dropped almost six points since the beginning of the year. The Wildrose Alliance is down one point while the Liberals are down five.

The New Democrats are the ones who have gained, up almost six points since January. It could be a coincidence, but the party's success at the federal level may be trickling down.

The Alberta Party and others are up four points since those January polls.

With the results of this poll only, ThreeHundredEight projects a Progressive Conservative majority of 51 seats. The Wildrose Alliance forms the Official Opposition with 22 seats, while the Liberals and New Democrats take seven seats apiece.

This would be a bit of a breakthrough for the NDP, giving them their most seats since 1989 when they won 16 and formed the Official Opposition.

The Progressive Conservatives win 16 seats in Edmonton, with the NDP taking seven and the Liberals two. In Calgary, the Wildrose Alliance dominates with 15 seats, with nine going to the PCs and four to the Liberals.

In the rest of the province, the Wildrose Alliance wins seven seats, the Progressive Conservatives 26 seats, and the Liberals one.

The successor to Ed Stelmach, who should be officially gone in the fall, will hold the advantage against Danielle Smith. But with a very small gap between the two parties, the Wildrose Alliance is in a good position to make some serious gains. Swap the two parties and the Wildrose Alliance could form government. But being a relatively new phenomenom, the Wildrose Alliance would really need to pile up the votes in order to win a majority. The PCs should be more effective in turning votes into seats.

The next leader of the Progressive Conservatives will be faced with a serious challenge, and with the potential renewed strength of the New Democrats and the wildcard of the Alberta Party, the next election in this province should be exceedingly interesting.