Monday, April 16, 2012

Pre-debate, Wildrose still well ahead

In the run-up to Thursday's leaders' debate, Wildrose widened its lead over the Progressive Conservatives, who in turn wiped the Liberals off the electoral map.

For a comparison of how things have shifted over the last two weeks, take a look at my article for The Globe and Mail here.

The projection was last updated in the early hours of Apr. 13, and since the previous projection of Apr. 11 the Wildrose have picked up one point to lead with 41.9%. This is the high watermark of the campaign for Danielle Smith.

The Tories, meanwhile, have dropped 0.2 points to 33.2%, almost nine points behind Wildrose.

The Liberals are down 0.1 point to 11% support, while the New Democrats are unchanged at 10.8%. For the Liberals, this is their lowest level of support in the campaign.

The net result is that Wildrose is unchanged at a projected haul of 56 seats, while the Progressive Conservatives are up one seat to 27. This has come at the expense of the Liberals, who are now projected to win zero seats. The New Democrats have held steady at four seats.

The likely range of Wildrose support has increased to between 36.6% and 47.1%, while the Tories are holding generally steady at between 30.5% and 35.9%. The two parties had overlapped since the Apr. 10 projection, but no more.

The Liberals sit between 9.6% and 12.5%, narrowly ahead of the New Democrats, who are projected to take between 9.1% and 12.4% of the vote.
This puts the likely range for the Liberals at between zero and three seats, while the New Democrats stand to win between two and eight sits. There is a very strong likelihood that the NDP will emerge as the third party in the legislature ahead of the Liberals, who may not sit at all.

Wildrose should win between 30 and 74 seats, a range that puts the odds of a Wildrose majority strongly in their favour. The Tories stand between eight and 55 seats, which makes a PC win plausible but nevertheless unlikely.

Edmonton vote projections
The one region of the province keeping them in the game is Edmonton, where the Progressive Conservatives gained 1.8 points since Apr. 11. They now lead with 38.7% and have gained one seat. Wildrose is down 1.9 points to 27.3%, while the New Democrats are up 1.8 points to 16.4%.

The Liberals have dropped 0.8 points to 13.9%, shutting them out seat-wise. Though they could still potentially win three seats in the capital and take 16.9% of the vote, they are being squeezed out by the other three parties. This has been going on since Apr. 5.

The Alberta Party is down 0.7 points to 2.3%. Also note that the projection was updated to accurately reflect where candidates for the Alberta, Evergreen, and other parties are running. This has had the effect of boosting support for these parties in each riding (i.e., a party at 5% in a region with two ridings would have 5% in each, if they only run one candidate they would need to have 10% in that one riding).

In Calgary, Wildrose is up 1.5 points and two seats to 47.8% and 26 seats. They also have it within their power to sweep the city, though as many as seven Tories could survive the onslaught. The PCs are down 1.8 points to 30.5%, while the Liberals are up 1.5 points to 11.6% and the NDP down 0.2 points to 7.2%. Though this is one bit of good news for the Liberals, they are far from being within range of a single seat in the city.

In the rest of the province, Wildrose has taken a step back from its high and is down 2.3 points to 50.2% support. This has cost them two seats in the region, both going to the Tories. They are up 0.8 points to 30.7%. The Liberals (+0.1) and Alberta Party (-0.1) are virtually unchanged at 7.2% and 2%, respectively. The New Democrats, however, are up 1.5 points to 8% and could even win as much as 11% of the vote and one seat outside the two cities.

The three polls added to the projection all tell somewhat different stories, one of the reasons why the likely seat and vote ranges are so wide.

ThinkHQ (Apr. 9-10, 1,223 surveyed) has Wildrose steady at 43% since their Apr. 2-3 poll, while the Tories are down one to 29% support. They generally have the parties holding firm throughout the province, though they see the parties neck-and-neck in Edmonton. Interestingly, however, ThinkHQ records that the personal impression of Wildrose has dropped significantly in the last week in Edmonton.

Abacus Data (Apr. 9-11, 900 surveyed) puts Wildrose up three points since their Apr. 2-4 poll to 46%, while the Tories are down two to 29%. They show big Wildrose gains in Calgary and a big PC drop in the rest of Alberta, while giving the Tories a seven point (and increasing) edge in Edmonton.

Finally, Campaign Research (Apr. 11, 894 surveyed) has Wildrose down 2.7 points since their Apr. 3 poll to 42.8%, while the Tories are up six points to 34.4% support. They show general stability in Calgary and the rest of Alberta, but a big Tory leap in Edmonton, where they hold a 22-point lead over Wildrose.

If there is a trend to be seen in these polls, it is that the fortunes are improving for the Progressive Conservatives in Edmonton, but that they trail by significant (insurmountable?) margins in Calgary and the rest of Alberta. This is, of course, reflected in the projection.

Did the debate change anything? What about Peter Lougheed's public endorsement of Alison Redford? We shall soon find out. A poll by Return on Insight out today shows a somewhat closer race between the Tories and Wildrose, however the firm had no other poll out during the campaign with which to compare trends. But with such a wide gap between the two frontrunners, the best Redford might be able to hope for is a minority - headed by Danielle Smith.

46 comments:

  1. I suspect we might start to see some movement in the numbers in the next few days. For one thing, the post-debate polls showed that the Wildrose was not able to capture any futher momentum (same goes for the PCs). However, homophobic comments made by a Wildrose candidate have been leaked and the most recent polls have not captured the fallout from those views (as they were only revealed on April 15). I will be interested in seeing your updated projections a couple of days from now as the effects of the fallout start to be felt - particularly in Edmonton and Calgary. As always, please keep up the good work.

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  2. Eric,

    What's up with that crazy CBC poll that has the WR ahead in Edmonton and the PCs ahead in Calgary? It suggests that that strategic voting isn't occuring in Edmonton as it is in Calgary... is there any sense to that poll? It seems to go against every poll since the election was started...

    Thanks again,

    Mac

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  3. These polls are totally contradictory to what I am seeing on the ground here in Edmonton. I am not saying they are wrong or bad, but I know only one family that is voting Wildrose. Everyone else is holding their nose to vote PC.

    Where are these people? They aren't my friends and neighbors...

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  4. I doubt that any minority, tory or WR, would last for long. In each case, tory MLAs would cross the floor to the WR. Sad but true, I fear.

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  5. Could a right-wing vote split between PC and Wildrose (at least in perception, although the PC's are hardly right-wing now) result in NDP gains, especially in Edmonton, with the Liberals collapsing? Does the NDP have a prayer of winning any seats in Calgary?

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    1. NDP prayer for calgary? Nope. NDP hasnt really done well except for overtake the liberals federally vote % in AB. Provincially all their support is based in central/university area Edmonton. Provincially they fight for 3-5th in Calgary vs Libs/Greens.

      FWIW too.. I've run federally for the fringe Canadian Action Party in Southern Alberta several years ago.. and even with my modest 260 votes I still beat NDP in several rural polls..

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  6. Edmonton support seems to be holding well for the PCs, though since your model projects 30 seats in Edmonton, a lot of those are outlying areas, where the Liberals and NDP are likely very weak and the PCs and Wildrose quite strong. Seems like the NDP will have at least 5 seats in Edmonton, including Edmonton-Glenora + all of the ones they held from 2004-2008, and a good chance in a couple others. The Liberals I have a feeling will hold on to a couple seats too, hard to see them shut out with 10-15% of the vote and it being concentrated in a few ridings in Calgary and Edmonton.

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  7. Hi Eric,

    Have you EVER seen polls with this kind of variance? It seems that WRP is ahead (or even) in every poll since the writ dropped. However, there is such massive variance in the polls. We've seen polls showing massive double digit leads, and (in the same week) polls showing a statistical tie!

    Also, what role could the "undecided" voters play? Some pollsters are showing as many as 25% of the electorate still undecided, with only 1 week to go. Does that seem higher than usual, this late in the campaign?

    Tom

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    1. Yes, this kind of variance is not too unusual. Fluctuations in the small sample regional results are not too unusual. It is enough, however, to make me somewhat uncomfortable!

      As to the undecideds, this is pretty standard. It often depends on the methodology (live callers result in higher undecideds, online/IVR in lower) so it is difficult to know for sure. And will those undecideds vote?

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    2. Certainly a huge question is will demoralized PC voters show up at the polls? Same may be true for the rather weak supporters leaning Wildrose. A lot of Wildrose supporters may have second thoughts with controversy around some candidates, so they might stay home. I suspect high turnout might favor Wildrose as it might signal stronger desire for "change", even if its a change for the worse.

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  8. Hi Eric,

    Kind of off the topic here, but I was wondering if you were planning to do much coverage of the upcoming seat redistribution.

    There was some pretty insightful coverage of the UK redistribution last year from sites similar to yours (http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/category/boundary-review/page/3) (http://www.democraticaudit.com/the-uks-new-political-map) which you may want to take a look at.

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    1. I probably will, but I'll wait until they are actually proposed.

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  9. There is still significant chance for a major swing in public opinion, And I could see liberal support dropping like a stone before then. This election is a real nail biter, and considering the range of the polls I don't think we will be sure until election day. In my opinion the liberal support will bleed to PCs and NDP, and if worse comes to worse for progressive voters they might just jump to Redford.
    ~Taylor

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  10. Go Wildrose!
    You can do it!
    40 Years is long enough!
    Down with the corrupt PCs!

    Wildrose Supporter (Former PC Supporter)

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    1. So you've said.

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    2. Is it really necessary to spam this everywhere, we are all entitled to our opinions but this isn't the place to boast.
      -Taylor

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    3. I'm not sure it's boasting, the election is still a week away (I'll vote in the advanced polls later this week). Personally, I don't see a victory as a shoe-in yet, although the polls are obviously encouraging. I like to think of it as "cheerleading."

      To be honest, before the writ was dropped I was aware, anecdotally, that the PCs were very, very unpopular in my area of rural Alberta, so I was always surprised to see that the WR were polling so low. Although I was hoping for it, I was not expecting a WR government. If you look in one of the earlier threads I got into a discussion of the (then) upcoming election with another poster (Redford Supporter), who hasn't posted in a while.

      While I did not (and could not have) predicted the current polls, I do understand them, at least as it relates to rural Alberta. Hindsight, as always, is 20/20.

      Go Wildrose!
      Yeah Team!

      Wildrose Supporter (Former PC Supporter)

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    4. Hi Wildrose Supporter,

      Long time, no see (so to speak)! I believe I am the poster to whom you are referring. We had quite the debate a few weeks ago.

      I will admit, wholeheartedly, that this past month has been horrible for the PC's and I did not expect such a remarkable implosion. In the two weeks before the writ dropped, my beloved party has lost support to the WRP in nearly unprecedented fashion.

      I'm not excited by the prospect of a WRP gov't, but it does look increasingly possible. While I don't trust polls, I cannot deny that they do indicate a trend and that voter anger seems to be benefitting the WRP more than any party.

      I can only cross my fingers and hope that Peter the Great (Lougheed)'s endorsement will bring back disaffected conservatives back into the fold.

      I'm really disappointed that some conservatives (the unthoughtful variety) are name-calling and suggesting that Alberta does not have an infrastructural deficit under Klein's gov't, which would be exacerbated by a WRP gov't.

      Warm Regards,

      Redford 2012

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    5. Dear Redford 2012,

      I agree that things look good for WR for now, but I don't see a majority as inevitable. If you look at the prior 308 predictions, you'll note that they are usually, but not always, spot on. So no-one should be counting their votes before they're cast, including WR.

      I'll suggest that the Lougheed endorsement is irrelevant. Anyone who is influenced by Mr. Lougheed's input is likely already a PC supporter anyways. Nowadays, the phrase "Peter Lougheed" doesn't mean "former politician" it means "Calgary Hospital."

      I'm not really sure what to make of the current "Klein" controversy. Personally, I always liked Ralph, but, as above, I had already decided to vote WR before the election. So, it may also turn out to be irrelevant, with only hard-core partisans like you and I following it.

      Go Wildrose!
      40 Years is Long Enough!
      Kick the Bums Out!

      Respectfully,

      Wildrose Supporter (Former PC Supporter)

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    6. WR Supporter,

      I think you may be half-right about the impact of the Lougheed endorsement. While new immigrants to the province and the younger generation may have little, if any memory of the former Premier, I think that seniors may fondly remember Lougheed as a person that truly built the province and established the oil industry.

      I think the Klein controversy is overblown, especially since as you've noted, Klein is certainly right of Redford, but the two are not incompatible. I could easily imagine Redford serving in a Klein cabinet position (likely Justice). As noted by the Premier, she was a card carrying member of the PC party throughout Klein's premiership. Her criticism was very respectful, only suggesting that his style of governing would not work today, as investments are needed in infrastructure and now is a very good time (record low interest rates) to build and invest for the future. Still, it is revealing that Rod Love and Mrs. Klein are both members of WRP.

      As for the outcome: you're right, that there's still 6 days to go, and nothing is yet settled. I think the polls are a bit skewed, particularly since many recipients of the automated calls simply hang up. The more motivated (sometimes angry) WRP supporters will generally be more willing to participate to have their opinion noted. Still, there's no arguing that WRP have been surging since mid-March and the polls do capture (if overly represent) this trend, which has me worried for my PC party.

      Cheers,
      Redford 2012

      PS- do you anticipate any blowback from the Allan Hunsberger blog in the rural ridings?

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  11. Eric: I put up this post just before your updated remarks to I hope it is ok to post it again.

    I just saw a new poll by "Return on Insight" for the CBC that puts the WR ahead by 21 points in rural areas (about the same as your prediction) but in Calgary they have the WR down by 4 (WR 41 PC 46) and in Edmonton the WR ahead by 6 (WR 37 PC 31). This poll is as of April 16.

    Is it possible that the Calgary WR vote could go from 17% up to 6% down since April 10? Could the Edmonton vote go from 11% down to 6% up?

    The pundits say that the debate changed nothing and I haven't seen any articles that would explain these numbers. Do you know something that might help?

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  12. Can you comment on how reliable your projections are likely to be, given the total non-representation of Wildrose in previous years against which to mark changes.

    It seems to me that any methodology is going to face some serious challenges this year given all of the shakeups.

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    1. This is a problem in ridings where there was no Wildrose candidate in 2008, less so where they was a candidate. Note that in the 2011 election, the model would have given the NDP 60 seats in Quebec had the polls been dead-on, this despite the party going from 12% to 43%. So, big increases can still give accurate results.

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    2. Yeah, but in QUE the NDP had always been a 'legitimate' option.

      Prior to about two months ago, the WR was not even a real option to think about -- either as someone to vote for, or someone to vote strategically against.

      I guess we'll see, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see projections be misled by the odd nature of this year's election.

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    3. Wildrose did get almost 7% of the vote in 2008, so it isn't completely new.

      But yes, the special circumstances could prove the precise projections wrong. However, I doubt they will be outside of the projected ranges, which are almost as important. I've included them as part of the projection (down to the riding level) to take into account this level of uncertainty.

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    4. Yes, but that 7% WR support was highly regionalized, compared to the broad base it currently seems to have.

      And, fair enough about the projected ranges, but it should be pointed out that in your analysis of the results, you really deemphasize the ranges and place much greater value on the 'expected' number.

      For example, in your G&M piece you have lots of statements such as:

      ". . . putting them squarely in majority territory with only one week to go before the Apr. 23 vote"

      ". . . With these levels of support, Wildrose is projected to win a comfortable majority of the Alberta Legislature’s 87 seats."

      Yes, you later on qualify by noting that, "There is also enough discrepancy in the regional results from one poll to another to inject a bit of uncertainty into the projection. Many ridings look to be very close PC-Wildrose contests, further increasing the plausible range of outcomes. Though it is very unlikely that either party would hit their respective extremes, Wildrose could potentially win as many 74 seats or as few as 30, while the PC range stands between eight and 55 seats."

      But you never really seem to acknowledge the potential for a minority Government, noting that "the likelihood that Ms. Smith will not be able to command a majority of seats is now very low.".

      I'm just not at all convinced that given this year's unusual circumstances that any modeling formulae are robust enough to give us a basis to be so confident in a WR Majority.

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    5. I'm just playing the odds. If my projections were on a bell curve, the projected result would be at the very top.

      In any case, we shall soon find out. While it is possible that Wildrose will not do nearly as well as I am projecting, it is hard to discount the 40% to 45% we're seeing the party at in virtually every poll. Their vote would have to be truly inefficient or really not turn out to cause Wildrose's projected seat numbers to be significantly inflated.

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  13. I don't know that the NDP has ever been a legitimate option in Quebec prior to Mulcair getting elected. Unless you mean the actually had a candidate in each riding.

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  14. How about a minority with the NDP holding the balance of power, in Alberta!

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    1. For a minority there would have to be some non-edmonton CPC elected.

      There would be a line up for them to join the Wildrose.

      If the CPC is close to majority then the Wildrose would have no problem keeping them in power vote by vote.

      If the PC were to take support/ advice from the NDP tehy would be truly wiped out the next election

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    2. to all the Anonymous out there ..... you can identify your comments by using the "Reply as:" Name/URL with exactly the same anonymity as Anonoymous.... but it provides context for your comments.

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  15. You know, I'm pretty right wing, but even that's better than another 4 years of PC rule. It's just not normal to have the same people in power for so long.

    Wildrose Supporter (Former PC Supporter)

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    1. Then why are you supporting Wildrose? A good portion of its supporters, volunteers, strategists etc... are former Alberta PC's.

      Ideologically, they're "fiscal conservatives" but, only on the spending side. They indicate they want to replenish the heritage fund but their revenue plans do not afford them that luxury. Ralph was also a "fiscal conservative", then gave away hundreds of millions in oil rebates whose affect was to increase inflation and buy votes.

      Wildrose will succumb to the same influences as the PCs from whence they came. There are few votes in small government.

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    2. Danielle is well aware of that, Derek. She said publicly at some point that a new government has 6-8 months to implement good policy, becauyse beyond that the elected members start to realise "Hey, this is the best job I've ever had" and from that point on they're more concerned with keeping it than doing it.

      I would expect a Wildrose majority to make all of its sweeping changes as soon as they're elected. All at once.

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  16. Eric,

    I'm not sure I agree with your decision to modify the riding results of parties that don't have a candidate in all ridings. If the Alberta Party, for example, is polling at 3%... I think it's not incredibly likely they'll get much more than 3% in each of the ridings they're contesting. Generally there are probably enough people saying they'll vote for that party even if they live in a riding that doesn't have a candidate for that particular party. So the fringe parties' actual vote share is probably somewhat inflated.

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    1. Yes, indeed. That is already taken into account, and the high and low ranges for the party in each riding also reflects this possibility.

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  17. @Eric,
    Just heard you quoted on the Rutherford show.
    Congrats! You're famous!

    Wildrose Supporter (Former PC Supporter)

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    1. Thanks! What was quoted?

      I was on the show earlier in the campaign, perhaps I'll be on again before the election.

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    2. It was a bit of a misquote, I think. Dave (for you non-Albertans, a very popular radio talk show host) gave the new pole numbers being reported in the press, and then quoted the seat tallies from 308 (which, as I understand it, haven't been updated since the 13th)

      Let us know if you are going to be on.

      Wildrose Supporter (Former PC Supporter)

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  18. How can your model predict less than 40% overall for the WR when only 1 poll out of the last 12 has a number less than 40%?

    You say you age the polls with the most recent worth more but the last 5 polls have the WR over 40?

    What's up?

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  19. It's explained in more detail in the Vote Projection Methodology, but I'll copy and paste the short note from the right-hand column:

    Vote projections are based on an aggregation of recent polls that are weighted by date, sample size, and record of polling firm accuracy. They are also adjusted according to past discrepancies between voting intentions and voting behaviour.

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    1. In other words, the projection model adjusts the poll aggregate according to how each party is expected to over- or under-perform their polling.

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  20. I have read your full description so I would just add this comment. Any aggregation, no matter how they are rated by date, sample size or polling firm accuracy couldn't produce a number under 40% without any recent polls being less than 40%.

    That just leaves "how each party is expected to over or under perform" and the WR of today has nothing to do with the WR in the 2008 election. I don't want to sound too negative but it looks like this "other" factor seems to be more important than any actual real world data.

    Please take this criticism as friendly as I very much enjoy your site.

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    1. The polls are, of course, the most important factor. The adjustment is costing Wildrose about a point.

      Also, please note that, while Forum has Wildrose at 40%, they round off their numbers. This means that Forum might have had Wildrose support at 39.5%.

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  21. Now that it is out that Colleen Klein bought a Wild Rose membership, and she lives in Reford's riding, where voters voted for Klein for years, how many of his fans in that riding will follow Colleen and vote WRA. Redford made a bad decision to diss Klein, in his old riding. She is in a tight race and this could be the reason she loses.

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    1. It`s unfortunate that Calgarians have such an affection for the worst premier the province has ever had, but so it is, and it may well cost the premier points at the polls.

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