Thursday, February 16, 2012

PC landslide not so certain in Alberta

With the release of a new poll from Forum Research, the Alberta projection has been updated and has swung somewhat significantly to the benefit of the Wildrose Party.

The poll itself shows very little change from the firm's last survey of January 17, and it being the newest data the model has shifted to take into account the latest information available. But with Forum's numbers diverging so widely from polls that have come from other firms, particularly that of Léger Marketing, the level of volatility is high enough that a whole swathe of outcomes can be envisioned.

The Progressive Conservatives are now projected to have the support of 41.1% of Albertans, a significant drop since the Tories were projected to take almost 46% of the vote on February 7. It is still enough for Alison Redford to win a comfortable majority government of 67 seats.

But Wildrose has benefited greatly and are now projected to win 27.2% of the vote and 17 seats, a robust opposition compared to the current situation in the Alberta legislature.

The amount of movement among the Liberals, New Democrats, and the Alberta Party has been relatively insignificant.

However, since the polls have been ranging very wildly of late, there is an extremely slim chance that Wildrose could actually take more of the vote than the Tories. Wildrose's high range currently stands at 34.2% to the Tories' low range of 33.1%. However, the Progressive Conservatives could take as much as 49.1% of the vote and Wildrose as little as 20.2%.

The Liberals stand at between 12.7% and 15.7% while the NDP is between 11.8% and 12.8%, according to the projection.

But with a huge degree of disparity in the regional polling, particularly in Calgary and the rural parts of the province, Wildrose could finish ahead of the PCs in both regions. This would put them in a position to win as many as 50 seats and form the government, though this outcome is very unlikely. But the level of uncertainty is quite high at the moment.

This has also opened up a bit of an opportunity for the Liberals, who were projected to win no more than a single seat on February 7. Though that has dropped to zero, the level of volatility gives them the potential to win as many as four.

Things are relatively clear in Edmonton, where the Tories are projected to have 45.6% of the vote and are on track to win 26 seats. They are followed by Wildrose (19.4%), the Liberals (15.8%), and the NDP (14.5%), the last of which are projected to win three seats.

Calgary is less clear cut, but the Tories are projected to have an eight point lead over Wildrose, with 41% to 32.9% support. In the rural parts of the province things are even less certain, but the projection puts the Tories at 39% to 34.6% for Wildrose. These two regions will be the major battlegrounds for Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives.

I have added two charts to the right-hand column, showing how the vote ranges for the parties have overlapped so far in the projection, and also tracking the precise vote projection province-wide and in each of the three regions of Alberta.
This Forum poll puts the margin between the Tories and Wildrose at only seven points, compared to 22 points in the recent RoI poll and 37 points in the Léger poll. This explains why the high and low ranges for the two parties are so far apart.

But compared to their January 17 poll, Forum only finds the PCs slipping one point with Wildrose gaining one, while the Liberals and NDP hold steady.

The PCs have picked up six points in Edmonton while Wildrose is up two, compared to a drop of two points for the Liberals and a drop of three for the NDP.

In Calgary there has been little change, with the PCs down two and Wildrose up one. The result is a tie at 36%. There was virtually no change in northern Alberta as well.

In southern Alberta, however, the Tories slipped 10 points to fall one point behind Wildrose, up five points to 35%.

According to the poll, roughly one-third of PC voters in 2008 have gone over to Wildrose, explaining the rise in support for the party. The Liberals, however, have lost relatively uniformly, with about 1/5th going to the Tories and 1/10th to the NDP and Wildrose each.

Alison Redford's approval rating is good, at 44% to 37% disapproving. She has a net positive rating among women, Tory and Liberal voters, as well as in every part of the province. Danielle Smith of Wildrose also has a good approval rating at 42% to 29% disapproving, with positive ratings among both men and women, voters older than 35, among Wildrose voters, in Calgary, and in both northern and southern Alberta.

Raj Sherman has an approval rating of 30% to 34% disapproval, but has net positive numbers among women, supporters of the NDP, Liberals, and Alberta Party, as well as in Edmonton.

The budget that came out last week was received positively, with 40% saying it would be good for the economy and 27% saying it would be bad. That 40% is more than enough for Redford to win a majority against such a divided opposition.

But while this poll shows relative stability and a small uptick for Wildrose, it continues to muddy the waters in Alberta. Whether it is a close race as Forum argues or a landslide like Léger has recently found is difficult to determine, particularly as Forum's findings are virtually unchanged since their last report. This points to an election result that could be very hard to predict unless the polls start to agree with one another a little more.


  1. Well at least we know the NDP is not forming Official Opposition wtih these numbers. However, the PCs should win a majority with Alison Redford as Premier since she connects with female voters while Danielle Smith does not (you cannot win with just men supporting you).

    The interesting note is how the Liberals have managed to retain most of its support outside Calgary and Edmonton (2 of the 4 potential seats are outside the two cities) given that it is their weakest area. We shall see.

  2. Redford's NDP-style budget has handed Wildrose a campaign strategy on a silver platter. I have no idea what Redford's advisors were thinking.

  3. Incidentally, Éric, I might have a lead on some riding polls. My mother claims to have results from a poll in Stony Plain, so I'll track that down to find out whether it's real, and whether there are others.

  4. Go Wildrose!
    Go Wildrose!
    40 Years is long enough!

    1. The last thing Alberta needs is that reactionary Tea Party.


    2. The last thing Alberta needs is another NDP sorry PC..

    3. Anonymous: Respectfully, that is completely rhetorical nonsense. The PC do NOT resemble an NDP government, even remotely.

      PC's are objectively pro-business and their proposed budget reflects this. This are spending more than most would like, but this is largely owed to two important events: 1.) Alberta's huge population growth; 2.) The global recession, which is still prevailing outside (and within other parts) of Canada.

      WRP is showing a modest surplus, but that's kind of dishonest, because it's putting off necessary capital expenditures in rapidly growing municipalities. For example, WR wants to cancel building hospital improvements. This will have to be built eventually and in mid-term, it will actually increase healthcare costs as patients must be treated in EDM/CGY, less proactively.

      A WR gov't would not be in our best interests.


    4. @TSE,
      I'm the OP on this thread. I don't care who you vote for, 40 years is long enough. We need to change for the sake of change. I'm relatively right of centre, so I'm voting WRP. But, if you don't agree, that's fine. Vote NDP or Liberal or whatever. It is abnormal to have one party in power for that long.

    5. @OP: I understand your concern about one party being in power for consecutive decades. However, I would simply note that we're talking about Canada, not Cuba.

      The differences between Premier's Lougheed, Geddy, Klein and (most forgetably) Stelmach are enormous! I look at Alberta politics a bit like politics in the states. There is huge variance (ideological/operational) between individuals within the parties. To me, Redford represents a renewal of the PC's and a return to the Lougheed days of fiscal conservatism with investments in Alberta's resources. Her policy on the rapid expansion of bitumen exports are all in the style of Lougheed.

      By comparison, I see WRP as representitive of the Klein Tories. Sure, they will balance the books faster, but at an enormous cost to education, healthcare and infrastructure, which is shortsighted. Smart investments are money-makers.

      I probably can't convince you to reconsider, but I do enjoy a good (friendly!) debate.


    6. @TSE

      1. I have no connection with any political party, although I do intend on voting for Mz. Smith (WRP)in the next election.

      2. As reported in the G&M and the NP, the latest Alberta budget is anything but conservative. I can't claim to have read it myself, and if I had, I likely would not have understood it, but assuming that this statement is true it shows a significant problem with the political culture of Alberta. Effectively, one can simply join the dominant party and impose any policy one wishes, irrespective of the wishes of the population (which, I would suggest are relatively right of centre and fiscally conservative). As I suggested, this is unhealthy, and speaks to voting for anyone other than the Progressive Conservatives.

      3. I found Mz. Redford's position on provincial impaired driving laws to be quite high-handed. At no time had this been mentioned in the campaign (at least that I could find), and was simply announced shortly after winning the leadership (as it turns out, I voted for Mz. Redford). The legislation itself was rushed through the legislature with no consultation from interested parties at all (other than MADD, I assume). The 05 provisions are especially short sighted, as they would prevent people in rural Alberta from drinking responsibly. Keep in mind, there is no doubt in my mind that the 05 provision would work, in the same way that the gun registry would work: i.e. honest, law abiding, taxpayers would modify their behaviour and simply stop drinking in restaurants and bars in rural Alberta, whereas criminals who are over the legal limit would not. The legislation reeks of "nanny-statism," and is a good example of why I vote for Harper federally. There is no problem with a person holding these views, but they should have the intellectual honesty to run for either the NDP or the Liberals. And, arguably, the 08 provisions are even worse. While I don't have any time for people who drive while over 08, it seems unfair to prevent them from driving until their criminal matter is resolved. Indeed, if you are offering them the blow box after pleading guilty (but not before), one might argue that you are attempting to force (possibly) innocent people to plead guilty so that they can get their license back. Why have a trial at all? Why not let the police simply convict them at the roadside?

      4. 40 years is long enough. The PCs no longer represent my views, and (whether they know it or not) they likely no longer represent the views of most Albertans. For God's sakes, man, come to your senses and vote Wild Rose.


    7. Hi,

      I do agree with you that 40 years has been long enough, though I really like the point that TSE (above) made about the extreme variation there has been within the PC party itself.

      However I have a few issues with your argument why you are voting for the Wildrose Party.

      First, the fact that you have only "heard" how the PC party's proposed budget is anything but conservative. I simply do not understand how anyone can simply accept what they hear as true without any personal investigation! Please people, find out the facts for yourself. All political parties try to slander the others in one form or another. In this case the Wildrose party is to put the fear of a left government in traditional PC voters. No, the PC party is not as right-leaning as the Wildrose, but they are certainly still a conservative government with a conservative platform and a conservative budget plan! Please take the time to look things up yourself. Democracy is dependent on this!

      Second, regardless of your thoughts on the new drunk driving legislation, it is simply not enough of an issue to base your decision of you you are voting for off of! Please note that I actually agree with you and Danielle Smith on this issue. I don't think the drivers with a blood alcohol level between 05 and 08 are the ones we need to be worrying about. That said, even though the new legislation is slightly annoying, it is not a real issue in comparison to the issue of health care, education, or you know, anything that actually effects anyone's life.

      Basically all I am really trying to say through this long rant is that we as Alberta's need to keep ourselves informed and focus on the real issues! It can be difficult to separate the truth from the propaganda around election time so it's really important we look into the facts for ourselves. I am not against you voting for the Wildrose party; everyone has the right to vote for who they think is best. I just hope that you have more reasons supporting your choice than the one's you mentioned!

      I do enjoy an informed discussion and would love to talk about this with you further if you would like.


  5. Not a comment on the story per se---but wanted to say that your charts showing the RANGE of vote projections is not only more helpful, but more honest than those which show only the middle number. I wish you would adopt this policy on all charts.

  6. I will be using this on all future projections, but the middle number is the most important.

    1. Hi Eric,

      Can you please explain the ranges (low and high), vs the middle number? How are these determined? For example, I've never seen a poll in which the PC's don't form a majority. However, in your low range, they wouldn't even form gov't. On the flip side, no poll (not even the Forum polls) have the WR forming a minority gov't, yet they get one in your "high" range.

    2. The high and low ranges for the provincial and regional projections are determined by the size of the margins between the highest and lowest results for a party in recent polls.

      High and low ranges at the riding level are determined by the difference of the high and low ranges in each region from the actual projection.

      The high and low seat ranges are then determined by whether the high and low vote ranges for each party put a party in a position to potentially win or lose a seat.

  7. The range of seat projections is a great tool- thanks Eric !
    On a different note, the provincial Libs are shooting themselves in the foot by not forming a coalition with the NDP. The moderate right-of-centre vote in AB (at least urban AB) firmly belongs to the PCs, so, the Libs won't be losing much by cosying up to the NDP. It is sad to see the 2 progressive opposition parties being so short-sighted.
    I am socially centre-left and fiscally centrist/slightly right-of-centre (Federal LPC supporter) but I will hold my nose and vote for the PC Party this time.
    Ms Redford is a breath of fresh air- a cosmopolitan Red Tory who appears to be the most "liberal" (in the small-l sense) Alberta Premier in over half a century.
    I predict 60-68 PC, 10-15 WRP, 4 NDP and 1-3 Lib.

  8. Polls are changing constantly and I am appalled that anyone would still vote for the Party Corrupt (PCs) after everything they have done to this province and to Albertans.

    We are finding internal polling much more towards the anti-PC vote than what you predict here. I've met people from all over the province who are telling me the same thing. For example, in the riding where I'm volunteering for, a very recent poll shows that the Wildrose is tied with the Liberals with the PCs in a distant third - you predict that the PCs are going to win that riding.

    Watch where poll numbers go when the election is actually called in the next few days. They will be much closer and will show that any January polls that had the PCs over 50% were outliers.

    Moreover, if Sherman does well in the debates and the campaign, he will just take enough Liberal votes away from the PCs to allow the Wildrose to come up the middle and win this.


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