Friday, April 6, 2012

Ray of hope for PCs in Edmonton

Though Wildrose continues to widen its lead in both vote share and seats in the Alberta projection, there is some indication that the Progressive Conservatives are bouncing back in Edmonton. They are still hemorrhaging support in Calgary and the rest of Alberta, but has the bleeding stopped in the provincial capital?

The projection was updated yesterday afternoon, and since the projection of Apr. 4 Wildrose has picked up 0.5 points and is now projected to take 41.3% of the vote. The Tories have managed to hold relatively steady, gaining 0.1 point. If an election were held today, they would be projected to take 32.2% of the vote.

The Liberals are up 0.2 points to 12.2% while the New Democrats are down 0.9 points to 10.4%. The Alberta Party has dropped 0.3 points to 2.3% support.

The ranges are relatively narrow for Wildrose (39% to 43.5%) and the NDP (9.5% to 11.3%), but they have widened for the Tories (29.6% to 35.2%) and the Liberals (9.2% to 15.2%).

In terms of seats, Wildrose is up six from Apr. 4 to 58, while the Tories are down four to 24. The Liberals are down two to only one seat, while the New Democrats are unchanged at four seats.

The seat range has worsened significantly for the Liberals, who are now projected to win between zero and only three seats. The New Democrats are down one seat in their high range, to between two and six seats.
For Wildrose and the Progressive Conservatives, however, there is now a little bit of overlap where before there had been none. Wildrose could win as many as 73 seats - a massive landslide - or as few as 41, giving them a minority government, or perhaps the role of Official Opposition. The Tories range between 11 seats - a disaster - or 43, one short of a majority government. In other words, whereas the polls suggested there was no scenario where the PCs could pull out a victory earlier this week, there is a small glimmer of hope for the Tories at this stage.

The main reason is that they have made gains in the provincial capital. They have picked up 3.8 points and three seats, and are projected to have the support of 35.9% of Edmontonians. They would win 19 seats, or as many as 23 seats if their high projected result of 39.7% came to fruition. The Liberals have dropped three points to 15.7% and two seats to one, while Wildrose is down 1.5 points to 27.8% and one seat to five. The New Democrats have slipped by 0.3 points to 15.8%, though that now puts them in third in the city. The Alberta Party is up 0.6 points to 3.4%.

Since the campaign began, this is the first gain that the PCs have made in any region of the province. That is certainly good news for them, but they have continued to slide in Calgary (though that slide is beginning to slow). They are down 0.2 points to 30.4% in Calgary, and are now projected to win only one seat (but could win as many as eight). Wildrose is up 0.8 points to 45.4% and one seat to 26, while the Liberals are up 1.1 points to 13%. The New Democrats are up 0.5 points to 7.2%.

Rest of Alberta
The biggest shift has come outside of the two major cities. There, Wildrose is up a whopping 4.9 points to 51.6% of the vote. Their high range even puts them at 59% and 30 seats, though they are currently projected to win 27. That is a gain of six seats since Apr. 4. The Progressive Conservatives are down three points to 30.2% and are now projected to win four seats, a loss of six.

The New Democrats have slid by 4.3 points and are now projected to have the support of 7.6% of Albertans outside of Edmonton and Calgary, while the Liberals are up one point to 7%.

But this chart shows how Wildrose has really taken off in this part of the province since the campaign began. And unlike Edmonton (where Wildrose lost support) and Calgary (where their gains are slowing), the pace of gains for Danielle Smith's party in the rest of Alberta is increasing.

This puts her in a very good position. She stands a strong chance of sweeping, or virtually sweeping, the "rural" regions of the province. Her big lead in Calgary gives her a whole swathe of seats, and being able to capture even a handful of ridings in Edmonton ensures she can form a majority government. There is a lot of padding in Wildrose's numbers - they can take another hit in Edmonton as well as in Calgary and the rest of the province and still take some 50 seats.

But this sort of momentum is unsustainable, so we should expect Wildrose to plateau soon. It appears it may have already happened in Edmonton. Plateauing at this level of support would be no problem for the party, but the question remains whether there is going to be any bounce back after the first two weeks of dizzying increase. Maybe Edmonton is ahead of the curve and we'll see Wildrose drop down elsewhere, or perhaps the provincial capital is a political island. This race is far from over.