Alberta Politics

what to make of the wildrose drop, the ndp growth, and the tory restoration?

I am not the first political watcher to weigh in with my views on the Calgary HeraldEdmonton Journal poll conducted by Environics that I mentioned on my blog yesterday morning, but I am going to offer my thoughts nonetheless.

The poll of 900 Albertans showed that the Progressive Conservatives have once again risen to a dominant position over the opposition parties, including the ambitious Wildrose Party. This is just one poll, and as we learned from the May 2011 Federal Election, campaigns do matter. Keeping this in mind, here are my interpretations of what the poll could mean for Alberta’s political parties:

Alberta Provincial Party Voting Intentions July 2011 Edmonton Journal-Calgary Herald Environics Poll
The results of a recent Calgary Herald-Edmonton Journal poll conducted by Environics.

Progressive Conservatives: The death of the near-forty-year governing PC Party has been greatly exaggerated. The poll shows PC support is above 50% across the province and above 60% with voters over the age of 65 (who show up to vote).

It is difficult to say if support for the Tories will change when they choose their new leader in September or October, but it is clear that the departure of Premier Ed Stelmach is boosting their electoral fortunes. Unless the next PC Party leader (and Premier-Designate) manages to become more unpopular than Premier Stelmach in the next year, it would be easy to see this party return to its dominant status.

Alberta Liberal leadership candidates July 2011
Liberal leadership candidates Bill Harvey, Bruce Payne, Raj Sherman, Laurie Blakeman, and Hugh MacDonald

Liberals: These numbers should be very concerning for the Liberal Party, which could possibly be polling at its lowest level of support since before the party returned to the Assembly in the 1986 election. The party is in the midst of a leadership contest and despite opening voting to non-members, it has struggled to get media attention.

The one morsel of comfort that the Liberals can take from this poll is that none of the other opposition parties have been able to capture the imagination of Albertans. If they choose the right leader in their September 10 vote, they may be able to survive the coming electoral storm.

Alberta NDP leader and MLA Brian Mason
NDP leader Brian Mason

New Democrats: With help from the bolstered ranks of their brothers and sisters in Ottawa, Alberta’s NDP are showing signs of growth.

The poll shows the NDP are the second choice among voters between the ages of 18 and 24 (30.9%), and of voters outside of Calgary and Edmonton. In Edmonton, the NDP’s traditional seat of strength in Alberta, the party is polling near the same level of support it received in the last provincial election. The question is whether current NDP leader Brian Mason is the right person to capitalize on this bump.

Alberta Wildrose leader Danielle Smith
Wildrose leader Danielle Smith

Wildrose: This poll will put a sour face on the most strident Wildrose supporter. I speculated earlier this month that the Wildrose may have reached the peak of their support in 2010 and this poll certainly suggests that this may be the case.

The departure of Premier Stelmach this fall appears to have removed the lightening rod that turned the Wildrose into a political force in 2010. Forming government looks further away now than it did a year ago, but the Wildrose is still in a better financial and organization position than the other opposition parties. They may have to get used to the sound of the words “Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith.”

Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor and MLA Dave Taylor
Alberta Party MLA Dave Taylor and leader Glenn Taylor

Alberta Party: This is poll has no good news for the Alberta Party (and almost no news at all). This poll should be a signal to this party that they should focus their electoral efforts on supporting candidates in two or three constituencies across Alberta, the most obvious being their leader Glenn Taylor in West Yellowhead, MLA Dave Taylor in Calgary-Currie, and former acting-leader Sue Huff in Edmonton-Glenora.

29 replies on “what to make of the wildrose drop, the ndp growth, and the tory restoration?”

Danielle Smith (in the pic above) looks like she’s about to bite somebody’s head off (sort of like those raptors in Jurassic Park).

“Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith” presumes that Smith can win her own seat in Highwood. With her extremist policies, this is not a given.

Can everyone at least agree that the rise of the Wildrose & the effectiveness of our caucus team forced this PC leadership contest?

You’re most welcome 😉

The Wildrose caucus is anything but effective. More like extreme, ideological, and completely out of touch with the average Albertan. The polls reflect this.

The Wildrose has revealed its true colours to its own in the last 6 months. Rigid discipline of the party line left many disaffected. The “Big Tent” has changed to the “Big Sell”

Nothing wrong with Smith per se, she is not extreme. It is all the yahoos and has beens she attracts to Wildrose that has been the party’s decline. While WRP looks to the past, PCAA looks to the future and is more welcoming of forward thinkers.

Polls at this point are almost irrelevant. A lot can change in a week in politics and any provincial election is still months away at the earliest. The PC leadership race is behind the spike in popularity. That spike can quickly sour if the PCs elect someone people view as “more of the same” that rise will reverse.
That said, the Wildrose needs to keep focussing on its fiscal policies because those are the policies that resonate with Albertans who don’t rely on government spending for their livelihoods, which is the majority.

The Wildrose would do a lot better with a new leader who’s in touch with the average Albertan. Clearly Smith doesn’t fit this bill.

Albertans appear to be voting with their wallets right now. Has anybody checked out the “Wildrose Money Bomb” page on their website? This is truly AWESOME. They are trying to raise $20,000 by August 10 to pay for Danielle’s Summer Tour – attendance to date about 50 non-relatives. So they have one of those progress thermometers. Today, July 29, they are less than 10 per cent of the way to their goal though the tour is about half over. Who’s the genius who decided to provide graphic evidence the party couldn’t draw flies to an outhouse? Shayne Saskiw, we salute you!!!

In statistical terms, the three major opposition parties (Libs, NDP & Wildrose) are essentially tied, as their results are clustered within the margin of error, especially in the regional breakdowns. An exception may be Calgary, where the Wildrose lead over the the Libs & NDP for 2nd place may be statistically significant.

What this poll does show is that (as I have predicted in the past) the Alberta Party is just not a factor; IMHO it will take one or two more election cycles for them to either grow or falter. It is just too soon to see if this nascent party can get out of the blogosphere and into the real world of electoral politics.

I’m not a fan of the Wildrose but I’ll say this for them, they made a commitment to transparency and are sticking to it, at least as far as their policy statements are concerned. Their proposal to scrap the human rights commission, support publicly funded private hospitals and appoint a chief firearms officer are recent examples. Apparently Albertans won’t support these policies (if the polls are anything to go by). Not good for the Wildrose, but it does show that Albertans are paying attention to the political rhetoric.

It will be interesting to see how many card carrying members of parties other than the PC (or those carrying multi cards) will be involved with and/or voting for the PC leadership. While not illegal, the ethics of doing this would certainly questionable. Sitting MPs really have no business becoming involved in the local politics of AB yet it is seemingly tolerated. A considerable number of ranking PC faithful (both federal and provincial) swung over to the Wildrose – now let’s see how much of this was/is about fickleness and the quest for power – regardless of the means.

I can tell you Gordon that the type of people who originally joined & stayed on our local Wildrose CA board were not previously involved in provincial politics. We were there because we were conservatives who wanted to strengthen democracy in this province and to put a tired and ineffective gov’t out of its misery.

I don’t advocate carrying 2 cards – it is the reason we got Stelmach.

Really Bill? Carrying two cards was also the reason we got Klein. Did you advocate it then? As for being conservatives who wanted to strengthen democracy, I’m sure that’s what Preston et al told themselves when they stuck us with Chretien and Martin for 13 years. Thanks for nothing.

There have been only 3 changes in government in Alberta history and they’ve all occurred when the economy was down. The province will be flush at the time of the next election. Both, for the ascending NDP and the descending Liberals, the question will be whether they can hold on to seats they currently hold and regain seats they once held when the Tories will have a huge vote in almost every seat and the centre-left vote is split. These parties won’t do anything to help each other but the question is whether voters in given ridings will rally behind the centre-left candidate with the best chance of winning, or just let the Tories take it all.

@Dave Cournoyer,

While you people debate the ethics of multiparty card memberships, the PC’s have been doing this deliberately to collapse any viable opposition in this province. The Tories have been ethical all along.

Dave, please allow this posting thru, its time the NDP, the Liberals and AP merge with the ALP. Too many left parties has kept the PC’s strong. Time for strength and unity and seeing the bigger picture and long term vision.

The NDP strength outside of urban Alberta is striking.

If they organize – as they are capable of – in Edmonton, they could become the Official Opposition!


I’m curious to hear more about this latent potential that the NDP has outside of urban Alberta. I’ve yet to see much of it and I’m curious about what you think I’m missing.

The WAP here in the SE of Alberta (which supported Morton in the last Conservatie Leadership Race) has been in a bit of turmoil. The “Rurban” Constituency of Cypress-Medicine Hat nominated a Realator by acclamation over a year ago, with mixed reputation, but he seems to be holding on. The Medicine Hat (urban constituency) has just very recently replaced their entire Board that had quit AFTER their nominated Candidate (a fairly credible candidate, President of our Chamber of Commerce, but quite politically naive) had quit as she felt she had no support from the “foubnding” WAP Board. It is a mixed bag. My conversations with the rural folk is that they could never support a woman Premier (sorry, Danielle). For many of the other voters, they seem fairly disengaged at this time…I suspect many PC voters will NOT vote in the PC Leadership – many NDP will participate in the ALP Leadershop – and depending who is the PC and the ALP Leader folks in my community will wake up to make a choice (of sorts). If Morton wins – it’s tough on the WAP, but opens the door for the ALP to pick up “Lougheed Conservatives” – game changer could also be a strong WAP candidate – and then, even with Morton at the helm of the PC Party, a vote-split in the Medicine Hat Constituency could mean a Liberal in Edmonton.
Bottom line – there are too many variables. As for the NDP polling this last time, Mason was totally honest that it was on the coattails of Layton and the Feds – this latest exit of Layton and the news of the interim leader’s association with the PQ AND the BLOC will likely shift things a bit for the NDP, expecially in Alberta!

Alberta does have a history of punting ruling parties right out through the end zone but ever since Bible Bill days they have moved slightly left with every change of government.

WRA looks like a replay of the Reform at the federal level. Drive in a wedge, play around for awhile then hope to re-unite the right from a position of power.

Alberta demographics are changing rapidly. Moving full swing to WRA is not likely to happen. I also doubt the lovely Danielle has figured out that when she became leader the goal by the power behind WRA was to fling her into the volcano at an opportune time.

Has this “transparent” party disclosed their campaign contributors from the last election yet?

Just a guess but I bet more than a few work in downtown Calgary in one great big office and maybe even used to know a guy called Preston Harper or
Stephen Manning or something like that.

Norm, they are REQUIRED to report, by law.

Further to the WRP Moneybomb page, they are trying to cover up the fact the initiative has been a dismal failure. The page now makes no reference to their $20,000 target, nor does it include a progress thermometer. Shayne, have you ever heard of Google Cache?

Where’s the beef, I don’t know what page you are looking on but when I go to the Wildrose website the target and progress thermometer is still there.

Fran Irwin, you are saying the good people in your rural area would not support a woman for premier. What then will happen if Laurie Blakeman becomes the Liberal leader; will the rural Liberal supporters look for another party? And, as a woman, are you not disturbed by those comments?

Hey Sarah Ann. It wasn’t there yesterday morning. I didn’t imagine it, trust me. I guess I just have amazing powers to convince Shayne to change his erroneous ways. I see that with one day left in the tour, fundraising still sucks, huh? Oh well, I’m sure that Shayne will make that go away with his majic mouse, too…the first casualty of war is truth, someone once said.

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