Friday, April 20, 2012

Wildrose poised for slim majority

With only days remaining before Monday's vote, the final polls of the campaign are being released. Léger Marketing, ThinkHQ, Campaign Research, and Abacus Data have all put out their final numbers and they all agree: while Wildrose's lead has been diminished over the latter half of the campaign, they are still in the lead.

Wildrose is projected to take 39.6% of the vote, down only 0.1 point since the Apr. 17 projection. The Progressive Conservatives have slipped 0.5 points to 34.8%, putting the gap between the two parties at just under five points.

The four most recent polls put the gap at between six and ten points, but as explained in that Apr. 17 analysis the model makes adjustments for expected discrepancies between voting intentions and voting behaviour (i.e., turnout).

The Liberals are up 0.8 points to 11.5%, putting them ahead of the New Democrats, who are unchanged at 11%. The Alberta Party is up 0.3 points since Apr. 17 to 2.1%.

At these levels of support, Wildrose is projected to win 45 seats. That puts them just over the bar for a majority. The Tories have picked up one seat since Apr. 17 and are projected to win 37.

The New Democrats are unchanged at four seats, while the Liberals are back to being on track to win a single seat.

As the polls are lining up (none of the newest ones feature anything that could be considered an "outlier" result), the ranges have been reduced. Wildrose's likely vote haul now no longer overlaps with the PCs: they are projected to win between 38.1% and 41.1% compared to between 32.3% and 37.3% for the Tories. In other words, if an election were held today the Wildrose would certainly finish ahead of the PCs in the popular vote.

The Liberals (10% to 13%) and the NDP (9% to 13%) are bunched up closely together, making it difficult to determine who is most likely to finish in third. At this stage, however, the Liberals have the advantage.
At least in the vote. In terms of seats, the New Democrats range between two and eight while the Liberals remain mired at between zero and three seats. This means it is possible that the Liberals could sit third in the legislature, but the odds do not favour this result.

The seat ranges for Wildrose and the Tories overlap dramatically, due in large part to the huge number of ridings that are being decided by only a few percentage points. And with the polls still unsure as to where the Tories stand in Calgary and Wildrose in Edmonton (though the order seems rather clear, the closeness of the race is still difficult to determine) anything from a Wildrose majority to a PC majority, and everything in between, is possible with the polls where they are. However, the odds favour a Wildrose majority government, and are heavily stacked against one headed by Alison Redford.

Edmonton voting intentions
The race is becoming increasingly four-sided in Edmonton, as both the Liberals and New Democrats have made gains in the capital. Wildrose support has been stagnant in the city for some time, while the NDP has hit a bit of a plateau as well. But the Liberals have made a small comeback, primarily at the expense of the Tories.

Since Apr. 17, the PCs have dropped 3.6 points and one seat in Edmonton. They are projected to win 35.4% of the vote and 19 seats. Wildrose is steady at 26.6%, but the New Democrats are up 0.9 points to 17.2%. The Liberals made the biggest leap, jumping 2.6 points to 16.8%, putting one seat back into their column. The Alberta Party stands to get its best result in Edmonton with 2.9%, a gain of 0.3 points.

But the polls are not exactly showing a consensus in the city. While the PC (31.4% to 39.4%) and Liberal (13.8% to 19.8%) ranges are relatively narrow, Wildrose could take as much as 32.1% of the vote or as little as 21.1%. The NDP could take between 12.2% and 22.2%. Though something in between is most likely, this degree of uncertainty means the PCs could win between nine and 26 seats in Edmonton, while Wildrose could take between one and 15 and the NDP between two and seven.

Calgary is also unsettled. Wildrose has dropped 2.2 points but still leads with 42.3% support. The Tories trail with 35.7% (-0.9) while the Liberals sit at 11.8% (+0.8). The New Democrats are up 1.2 points to 7.3% and the Alberta Party is up 0.2 points to 2%. The range for the Tories is incredibly wide, however: they could take between 27.7% and 43.7% of the vote, giving them between one and 18 seats. They are projected to win eight to Wildrose's 19.

In the rest of the province, Wildrose is up 0.5 points to 47.8% but down two seats to 21, as the Tories have picked up 2.1 points to hit 33%. The New Democrats are down 0.7 points to 9.7% and the Liberals are down 0.8 points to 6.6%.
EDIT: An earlier graphic mixed up the results of Abacus and Campaign Research. My apologies.

Provincially, the polls are all in general agreement. Wildrose scored 41% in the last three polls taken Apr. 17-19, while they were at 42% in Léger's poll taken Apr. 13-16.

Tory support is somewhat more uncertain, standing between 31% and 36%, though support for the Liberals (9% to 12%) and the NDP (10% to 13%) varies by no more than three, and in polls taken since Apr. 17 their results differ by no more than two points.

Regional results, though, are less certain. In Edmonton, the gap between the Tories and Wildrose is somewhere between two and seven points, while it ranges between three and 15 points in Calgary. Outside of the two cities, it is somewhere between 13 and 24 points. One can now see why my own projection ranges are so wide.

They all, however, put the Progressive Conservatives ahead in Edmonton and Wildrose ahead in Calgary and the rest of the province. They all give the Liberals (13%-19%) and the NDP (16%-22%) their best results in Edmonton, and show the two parties to be completely out of the race in Calgary and the rest of Alberta. No poll gives the two parties a combined score higher than 25% in Calgary or 17% outside the two cities (compared to a combined high of 38% in Edmonton in one survey).

They all also tend to show that Wildrose's momentum has stalled or has turned negative, while the Tories' slide has stopped or has even been reversed. If Angus-Reid or (more likely) Forum decide to do some polling today or tomorrow, we might get a more definitive idea of whether the gap is going to be tightening between now and Monday.

Note: A final projection will be posted either late on Sunday or early Monday.