My previous post on the federal riding of Calgary Centre, where Conservative MP Lee Richardson stepped down to pursue a more fruitful and nice job as Premier Redford's principal secretary, focused on the race among the Conservatives who would, naturally, be replacing Richardson. The top three contenders, as far as I see it, are Councillor John Mar (who is going to run), media personality Joan Crockett, and nutbar Andy Crooks who was recently endorsed by Rob "Sleepytime" Anders, Canada's answer to the Tea Party. Mar is very likely to win.
Also in the running is a Liberal that is not Jennifer Pollock, namely Beena Ashar, who ran in the recent provincial election in Redford's district and came third. She's the only person to come forward as a Liberal so far. 2011 Green candidate William Hamilton will be running again, but no word yet on the Dippers.
So whats up with this riding, anyways? Is it actually winnable? Do you think we can do it!? Not bloody likely but, you know, we can always dream.
This being said, it isn't insane to say that the Opposition could make inroads against the Conservatives in this riding, as demonstrated by its rather unique history compared to some of its sister ridings.
Calgary Centre could properly be called a good riding for the Opposition in the long-term, based on history and demographics. While it wasn't the closest Calgary riding in 2011 (that goes to Calgary Northeast), on average it has been a better riding for the Opposition than the others. Demonstrated best by the fact of Joe Clark winning the riding in 2000, and the close call in 1968 for the Liberals, and the relatively good numbers for the Liberals in most other elections, most recently in 1993, 1997, and 2004. Had Clark not run in the riding in 2000, the Liberals would've likely stayed around 30-35%, a really good base for the party.
But since 2004, despite marginal gains by Lee Richardson himself (from 51% to 57% in four elections isn't impressive growth), the Liberals have collapsed thanks to the NDP and the Greens growing. So even though the Opposition was at 43% in 2011, it was split three ways.
The likelihood of one of the parties breaking out from this three-way isn't high, but if any of the parties will do it, it'll be the New Democrats, simply because they're the main Opposition right now. However, here is where everything is currently sitting at with projections:
Rolling Average (Jun 22): 50% Con, 27% Lib, 16% NDP, 7% Green
Harris-Decima (Jun 18): 50% Con, 23% Lib, 14% Green, 13% NDP
Angus Reid (Jun 16): 47% Con, 23% Lib, 18% NDP, 12% Green
But didn't I just say the NDP would breakout? That shows the Liberals with the biggest growth...
Technically, the Liberals have the biggest growth in Alberta's polling right now. Their current average is 15%, where they earned 9.3% last election; while the NDP are sitting at roughly 19% in averages, and earned 16.8% in the election. The Liberals, according to the polls, have the biggest growth - but that's the thing about polls, isn't it? Not necessarily always right.
Especially down at a local level like we are looking at here. While Albertans may not be in love with New Democrats, that hefty level of opposition inherent to Calgary Centre will want to go somewhere, and the sad fact is that the NDP are the largest and most noticeable opposition party. If I were to make a guess, the Liberals would likely drop to third.
But I can be wrong. This riding covers the provincial riding of Calgary-Buffalo, where Liberal Kent Hehr is the MLA. That's always useful in a byelection, having that local representation. And the conflicting nature of Alberta and the NDP right now - Mulcair and his Dutch Disease may not endear himself to voters in the province but the oil spills and general Harper stupidity might - could be a recipe for surprises.
We'll have to wait and see, especially considering the Cons don't have a candidate yet. I'm very very hesitant to say this could be a riding in play, even with the large opposition base; but like Outremont in 2007, the wrong candidate from the dominate party could change the dynamics of the race. Right now though? I call it a clear Conservative hold.