Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Alberta Tories maintain lead

It hasn't been a particularly good few weeks or even months for Alison Redford and the Progressive Conservatives. Nevertheless, the party remains in decent form according to the latest set of numbers from Léger Marketing.
Léger has not reported from Alberta since the 2012 election, so we have no trends to look at. The poll was done via telephone as part of a wider survey for PwC, but the numbers align with what we have seen from other relatively recent polls.

The PCs led with 40%, down from the 44% they got in the 2012 election. Wildrose was down six points to 28%, while the New Democrats and Liberals were both up from the 10% they each earned in 2012. The NDP edged out the Liberals with 13% to 12% support. Another 6% said they would vote for other parties (Alberta, Evergreen, and independents, we can assume).

Oh, did you hear that the polls performed badly in Alberta in 2012? You might not have heard it, or it might have been the only poll-related thing you've heard for the past 10 months. There's no reason to assume that sort of problem occurring again here, particularly as these numbers are close to the last election's results. And Léger was not one of the worst culprits in that campaign, as they were in the field only until Apr. 16, a week before the vote took place.

For Liberals and New Democrats, these results are well within the norm. In four polls since August, the Liberals have ranged between 11% and 14% support while the NDP has scored between 12% and 14% in all five polls that have been released since the last election. The 28% for Wildrose is also generally what we have seen since the vote, with Environics having pegged the party at 29% in October.

The Progressive Conservatives are a few ticks lower than where they were in the summer and fall, as the party polled between 43% and 45% in those months. But the PCs were also at 39% in June 2012, so this 40% (along with the margin of error) is not anything to worry about for Redford - yet. It could be of concern if it is the start of a trend, but the next election will only be held in 2016.

I had to cull these numbers from the report by the Calgary Herald, so I have no regional numbers to pass along. It is still possible to do a seat projection based on the province-wide numbers, however, by applying the provincial swing to each of the model's three regions (Edmonton, Calgary, and the rest). The projection model was actually well calibrated in 2012 - it just needed better polling numbers. With the correct regional results, the model would have projected 65 seats for the Tories, 18 for Wildrose, and four for the NDP, instead of the actual result of 61 for the Tories, 18 for Wildrose, five for the Liberals, and four for the NDP. That the Liberals withstood their huge decrease in support in those five ridings was the sort of thing the model could not take into account, but with that odd result now on the books the same sort of error would not occur again (i.e., because the model missed the five seats in 2012 doesn't mean that it would necessarily underscore the Liberals again. In fact, it might be more likely to over-estimate these MLAs' resilience).
The Tories would actually grow their seat count with these numbers, thanks to the larger drop in Wildrose support. They would win 62 seats, evenly distributed between the three regions.

Wildrose would win 14 seats, all but two of them outside of Edmonton and Calgary.

The New Democrats would win six seats, five of them in Edmonton and the other in Lethbridge, while the Liberals would hold on to their five seats.

The electoral geography is very good for the Progressive Conservatives, who can still win a landslide result with a relatively modest lead. The other three parties win about half as many seats as their support would provide in a proportional system, but comparatively speaking that gives Wildrose a worse-looking result than either the NDP or Liberals, who have strong regional concentration. Unless Danielle Smith can definitively replace the Tories as the preferred option (and not in a flash-in-the-pan sort of way), she needs a regional block of her own to put a serious dent in the Tories' seat count.


  1. Looks like Marlin Schmidt and Shannon Phillips would both win their seats if an election were held today. Good news for the NDP and the province, they would both make fantastic MLAs.

  2. shannon phillips has been rejected by voters numerous times, similar to Bal Boora. Eventually you would think that they would catch on that the vast majority of constituents don't like them.

  3. Shannon Phillips has won only once, and it was the first time the NDP placed 2nd in Lethbridge-West.

  4. Times have changed and Alberta is changing too. There is no way the Wildrose Party could win a majority government, unless they ditch their principals and become an ideological clone of the PC party.

    However, the Wildrose does have an important role to play in Alberta politics, just like the Liberals and NDP do too.

    The Alberta PCs are a classic example of a Canadian brokrage party and they would shift across the political spectrum when it suits them.

    The PCs are vulnerable and they will eventually be defeated. My ambitious prediction is that the PC dynasty will be the last Alberta dynasty. Governments shift back and forth between a watered down Wildrose Party and a new center/centre-left party coming from a merger of Liberals, NDP and potentially, other groups.

    1. People have been saying this will be the last PC government since Lougheed stepped down.

      I don't see the Liberals and NDP merging, even a combined party does not have the votes to win a minority government. I think die-hard Liberals would prefer to remain separate since, merging only marginally improves their chances.

  5. Wildrose can win a majority. Sorry to tell all the left-wing socialists.

    1. Very partisan comment on a website that focuses on statistics.

      The political climate was right for the Wildrose in 2012, they were leading in the polls, but media scrutiny and campaign errors swung the polls heavily back to the PCs.

      Despite all of Redford's problems, the PCs are still comfortably leading in the polls. This is not good news for the official opposition.

      Perhaps the Wildrose will win a majority government someday, but then it would have just turned into a watered down right-of-centre party.

    2. The political climate was "manipulated" in 2012 by the media. Undoubtedly there must have been some methodological errors in polling. More importantly, the media (Calgary and Edmonton Sun, Herald and Journal) played up Wildrose without the due diligence needed to ascertain the strength of their ground game.

  6. The wildrose came second in a lot of seats. Next time a lot of fence sitters will vote for wildrose and a lot of liberals that voted for the pc to stop wildrose will return to the liberals. A good chance for the wildrose espicially with the red queen making so many errors. Time will tell.

  7. Another 5000 votes for the Wildrose and we'd be looking at a radically different picture.

    Next time the leftists will probably stick with their values and vote NDP or Liberal or Green.

    Ultimately, after the last election I don't trust Alberta polls. They were just so horrifically wrong.

    I think a big part of it is that Albertans are very apolitical. They only pay attention during elections and inbetween they mindlessly support whoever is in PCs.

    2016 is a long way away.

  8. "The other three parties win about half as many seats as their support would provide in a proportional system, but comparatively speaking that gives Wildrose a worse-looking result than either the NDP or Liberals, who have strong regional concentration."

    That's for putting this in Eric. :)


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