Restoring $107 million into the provincial Education budget, committing to hold an inquiry into the intimidation of doctors, promising increased consultations on water management, and halting (after some fumbling) the approval of two controversial electrical transmission line projects through rural Alberta, Premier Alison Redford is quickly moving to defuse the electoral time bomb of unpopular decisions made by her predecessor, Ed Stelmach.
Premier Redford’s first moves appear to be geared towards taking away the most controversial issues that the opposition parties have gained traction on in the last year’s of Stelmach’s premiership.
A recently released Angus Reid online survey (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course) conducted between October 17 to October 19, 2011, revealed an interesting snapshot and positive news for Premier Redford:
– Voting Intention: Progressive Conservatives 44%, Wildrose Party 22%, Liberals 16%, New Democrats 13%, Alberta Party 2%
– Best Premier: Alison Redford 32%, Danielle Smith 15%, Raj Sherman 8%, Brian Mason 6%, Glenn Taylor 1%
The online survey shows Premier Redford with a 55% approval rating, twenty-points higher than her closest opponent, Wildrose Party leader Ms. Smith. The three main opposition leaders, including Ms. Smith, registered higher leadership disapproval ratings than approval ratings among those surveyed.
The online survey shows the Tories leading in support across the province, with the Wildrose placing second in Calgary and rural Alberta, and the Liberals essentially tied with the NDP for second in Edmonton. The Alberta Party barely registers in the online survey, showing only 2% support province-wide and 4% in Calgary.
The online survey also suggested that the selection of Dr. Sherman as their leader has not cured the Liberal Party of their electoral ills. Of those surveyed who identified themselves as having voted Liberal in 2008, when that party was led by Edmonton-Riverview MLA Kevin Taft, only 56% said that they would vote Liberal if an election were held tomorrow.
Redford may be besting Ms. Smith in the world of online surveys, but that does not mean the Wildrose has been plucked. At a fundraiser in Calgary, Ms. Smith attracted an audience of more than 1,100 people, leaving some politicos to suspect the Wildrose raised more than $400,000 in one night (more than any of the other opposition parties could dream of). Despite numerous bumps in their nomination process, the Wildrose Party is continuing to nominate candidates across the province with now close to 60 of 87 on the ground.
Even the NDP, who have showed up perpetually in third place over the past two decades, are looking better prepared for an election than they have in recent memory and will soon have just as many candidates nominated as the Wildrose.
Of course, even a week is an eternity in politics, and with an election expected sometime early in 2012 there is much that can change. Polls and surveys provide useful snapshots, but campaigns matter.