Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Conservatives at 32% in Calgary Centre? .... Maybe.


There is this odd new poll out from Forum Research of all three current on-going by-elections is something to be believed, especially in the case of Calgary Centre. Compared to their last poll out in the field in late October, there has been some major shifts.

While the numbers in Victoria are interesting enough, with the Greens in second place according to this Forum poll, its Calgary Centre that has people abuzz - including some who throw water upon its conclusions. While I find Kinsella to be exaggerating - as usual - the history of this polling, he's not wrong in his conclusions. It's very odd to see the Conservatives so low, and pretty much because of a huge jump on the part of the Green Party candidate Chris Turner. Though the Liberal's Harvey Locke is closest with 30% of the vote, its the Greens experiencing the most growth it seems, going from 11% in the last poll to 23% now; the Liberals have only jumped up 2%.

So, why? The main cause so far has been pinned on the Conservative candidate, Joan Crockatt. So lets look at the ideas and facts so far.

Crockatt's candidacy was forced on the riding, and folks don't like that.
Crockatt was probably the PMO's favourite (no surprise, being a complete Harper thrall),and the fact that she won the nomination has irked some long-time Tories. However, she did win an open nomination race. It wasn't as if it was a small field, either - six candidates vied for the nomination. The "concerns" over Crockatt's candidacy has been, in my view, a lot of sour grapes. Sure, she's just another mass-produced Harper candidate, but it wasn't like she was simply dropped into the association and all others ended up being forced out. It went to four ballots! Besides, long-time party members may not like Crockatt's politics, but the majority of the riding's voters are not party members.

People just don't like Crockatt.
Maybe its just that people liked their old MP, Lee Richardson, and don't like Crockatt. I don't think the larger population is really that involved unless the person has a big name attached to their personalities - but Crockatt actually does. She's been editor of the Calgary Herald, and been around the Calgary news circuit for awhile, so at the very least she's a minor celebrity. Maybe she just turns people off.

It is a possibility, but that would've been notable from the outset. Crockatt didn't start polling this badly until this poll came out. The only way to account for this drop is if she's done something recently, or people found out something about her recently that they don't like.

She's a Wildroser.
This idea, whether true or not, could play up in Calgary Centre, given which provincial ridings it covers - Calgary Buffalo, held by Alberta Liberal Kent Hehr; Calgary Currie, held by PC MLA Christine Cusanelli who won with a margin of 16% in 2012 over the Wildrose candidate; and of course, Calgary Elbow, held by Premier Redford herself. If Crockatt really is considered the "Wildrose" candidate, then voters in this urban, moderate, and possibly socially liberal district may reject her.

But Crockatt hasn't said anything out of the ordinary so far, near as I can tell. She's been a standard federal Conservative candidate. There is, of course, the possibility that local PC and Liberal organizers in this riding are working against her, an idea I could get behind. But are people really going to care that much? Maybe this is a case of provincial politics bursting on to the federal scene, but I don't know; would electing an Opposition candidate really be preferable to electing a Conservative candidate who is just going to fall in line behind Harper anyways?

She's just a Harper clone.
Well, yeah, she is. But so was Lee Richardson. For all the lament of losing a "Progressive Conservative," he voted along with the rest of his Conservative colleagues, most of the time. Yes, he voted against the 2006 bill to restore the "traditional definition" of marriage, but so did James Moore and Christian Paradis. Where are their gold stars?

But for all the hubub about Lee Richardson being a "Red Tory" - again, whether true or not - he went along with the Conservatives just as much as any other Conservative MP. Voters had ample time to reject him, if they really felt this way. 

Locke/Turner are well-known people and candidates.
They're not as well known as Crockatt who, again, was a media personality of a sort. They're both great candidates at the same time, but their early numbers show they weren't well known. Its only now that both have gained respectable polling numbers. Maybe they've earned new supporters since that time, but there is just as much chance that the sample size for the poll was too small/biased.

Conservatives are just unpopular right now.
This is, of course, probably the worst explanation. The Conservatives poll around 55% to 65% in most polls of Alberta, and the Opposition parties are lucky if even one of them breaks above 20%. Come off it.

I'm not ruling out that people just want to show their displeasure with the Harper government, but you'd think this would show in wider polling as well - and it hasn't really.

1CalgaryCentre has worked!
Also a poor explanation, given that the consolidation of the "progressive" vote has failed miserably as its split three ways still. They haven't even picked a candidate to get behind yet.

Those are all the reasons I can think of so far. I still think this is just a sampling error. There is the possibility of seeing major change... but it hasn't been reflected anywhere else, not as of yet anyways.

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