Monday, November 21, 2011

The End of the Alberta Liberal Party.... Again

So, despite the election of a new leader who leads in opinion polls on the biggest issue in the province as the "most trusted" to handle the issue, the Alberta Liberals have now lost two members (of the nine they originally elected), been through two leadership elections since the last election, and sit barely above the wandering New Democrats, behind the powerful Progressive Conservatives they've failed to challenge since 1993 and the Wildrose Party led by a telegenic libertarian. Meanwhile, their membership drive schemes have failed and they're in no shape to challenge anyone.

The latest things prompting me to write this was the floor crossing of Bridget Pastoor, the Alberta Liberal's only MLA outside of Edmonton or Calgary, to the governing PCs. Pastoor has likely left for two reasons: new PC Premier Alison Redford is apparently and "old friend," and the ALP's dwindling popularity would likely spell the end of her career in her Lethbridge East constituency, where she won by less than 1,000 votes in 2008. Indeed, in my rolling projections for Alberta, Lethbridge East is lost for the ALP, though close. It doesn't help that a three other incumbents are retiring come the next election, either.

Another poor prospect for the future is the ALP's downward trend of support. Adding in the latest numbers from Environics, the ALP stands at an average of 17.8% of the vote, just good enough for three seats. The NDP at just 13.1% support would win more seats.

What does this all say? It says that the Alberta Liberals are facing a crisis like every other Liberal party across Canada. Their neat tricks, their new leader, and all the ads in the world won't be much of a distraction from the lack of candidates, the lack of money, and dwindling support.

My guess is that like the Saskatchewan Liberals, the ALP is on a fairly downward trajectory that's going to take quite a bit to get out of. There's still time to avoid the Bater Crater, but it's going to take all the ALP has to avoid a repeat of the 1970's and early 1980's, when the part couldn't breach 10% of the vote until 1986.

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