Sunday, April 12, 2015

#abvote - Week 1 Roundup

Though it's not technically been a week yet, I thought I'd do a quick round-up of the polling and events for the first bit of this election campaign. Let's start with the polling.

Polls - Week 1

InsightsWest (Mar. 27-30): PC - 31%,
Wildrose - 27%, NDP - 22%, Liberal - 17%
1Question (April 3-5): NDP - 29%, Wildrose - 24%, PC - 23%, Liberal - 15%
ThinkHQ (April 2-6): Wildrose - 31%, NDP - 26%, PC - 25%, Liberal - 12%
Mainstreet (April 7): Wildrose - 31%, PC - 27%, NDP - 26%, Liberal - 12%
Forum (April 7): Wildrose - 30%, NDP - 28%, PC - 27%, Liberal - 12%

ThreeHundredEight: 30.0% Wildrose, 28.3% PC, 23.7% NDP, 13.4% Liberal
My projection average: 30.7% PC, 29.0% Wildrose, 23.4% NDP, 13.5% Liberal

Amusingly enough, the first week (or so) of polls has been remarkably stable, with five separate pollsters showing more or less the same kind of race when - three-way fight between the Wildrosers, Tories, and NDP, with the Liberals and Alberta Party trailing far behind. The sort-of outlier is, of course, the 1Question survey commissioned by 1AlbertaVote, which I discussed earlier this week; its a strange poll, but the methodology is sound and the results, while shocking, are not actually out of line with everyone else when you consider the margin of error.

There was also one single riding poll commissioned that I know of, and that was done for the Alberta Party in the riding of Calgary-Elbow, where their party leader Greg Clark is running. The poll, done by a firm called Gravis Marketing, was of 445 voters within the riding, and showed Clark tied with incumbent cabinet minister Gordon Dirks at 20% each (27% each with undecideds taken out). Again, it is a riding-level poll and thus should not necessarily be taken at face value - but it isn't out of line with the expectations of a tough fight there, either.

The other interesting numbers that may help explain whats going on where the leadership approval/disapprovals for each of the main party leaders. Just to go over them quickly below, where green is total "approve", red is total "disapprove", and gray is "undecided/don't know":

Jim Prentice: 29/60/11 (InsightsWest), 22/63/14 (Forum) 
Brian Jean: 29/24/47 (Forum only, InsightsWest did it for Heather Forysth)
David Swann: 30/31/39, 25/31/44
Rachel Notley: 41/29/30, 42/21/38

It appears Jimmy has an image problem, and may in fact be the most disapproved-of Premier in Canada (battling it out with Selinger), while many just remain undecided about the others. Notley is the only leader to have more people approve of her leadership than disapprove or be unsure, and I would venture to guess that is the main reason why her party has the boost it does right now.

Another number I think will be crucial going forward: something like 58% of Albertans may change their minds before election day, according to ThinkHQ. I wish more companies would poll this kind of question, because it is a crucial one I feel, especially in light of past Alberta political polling foibles. If the electorate is that fluid, then we should be prepared for anything.

Party Positions

There's been little time to get their campaigns kicked into full gear in Alberta, but all four major parties seem to be geared up. Here are some highlights:

The Progressive Conservatives more or less have their platform laid out, known as the "Prentice Plan" and underscored by the bland-as-hall slogan of "Choose Alberta's Future." You can view the PDF here, and let me tell you, it is light reading. Nothing much different from the budget speeches and public messages, but I suppose that's to be expected. The PCs now have a full slate as well, and have begun a pretty serious ad campaign.

The Wildrose Party is still lagging behind in nominations, but as far as I can tell they have candidates in all the ridings that would be their likely targets, so even if they didn't fill out all 87 ridings, I doubt it would make much difference. One bit of interesting nomination news was the addition of Red Deer municipal councillor Buck Buchanan, who lost the PC nomination in the same riding and decided to jump to the Wildrosers instead. This is where I also learned of Brian Jean's $100,000 floor-crossing contract, whereby candidates for his party will have to pay a goodly sum if they decide to switch parties in the next legislature - highly amusing but I suppose it sends a message. The Wildrosers also have what I assume will be their platform, or the basic outline of it, called the "5 Priorities" or the equally bland phrase of "Standing Up for Albertans!," which you can read here. Jean has also been harping on about how the election call is illegal, but this guy and his main opponent were in Harper's caucus in 2008 when his leader called an unnecessary and "illegal" election (neither of them where, just cynical ones), so forgive me if all I feel is hot air blowing from his face hole.

The rising Alberta New Democrats, as has been pointed out by a huge number of people, have a full slate and are very prepared for this election... with the exception of a platform, or a basic list of priorities at any rate. It might be buried somewhere but I couldn't find it on their site, just a bunch of statements here and there (such as this) by the party or Notley with fluffy rhetoric, mostly attacking the PCs or Prentice. Its probable they're just waiting to release it (maybe today at Notley's "Rally for Change"), but I kind of expected more. This is why I said that I thought Notley's approvals had a lot more to do with her party's rise than anything else - we've yet to actually see actual policies or promises come from her party.

The Alberta Liberals and interim leader David Swann have been puttering about with a few announcements here and there, but like the NDP I don't think they have a concrete platform as of yet. Unlike the NDP, however, they do have a 2015 policy book that I assume will act as their platform for the meantime, if not for the entire campaign. That's something at least. They still don't have anywhere close to a full slate of candidates, but going through the list I did see they have candidates in the ridings I'd consider "targets," with one exception (Edm.-McClung). Contrary to popular speculation as well, they're not holding back from nominating candidates in NDP target ridings either (they have candidates in Lethbridge West, Edm.-Decore, Edm.-Manning, etc.).

Media Positions

Its far too early for any endorsements, but most media I've been reading is still under the assumption that the PCs will win, for example this Globe and Mail piece on Prentice. That's probably the safe bet.

My very unscientific look at the Calgary Herald's headlines over the last few days as well usually churns out more negative stories on the government than positive ones, as does the Calgary Sun but I consider the latter to just be full of negativity to begin with so not much different there. Otherwise, just the usual election coverage.

Hopefully Week 2 will be a tad more interesting. One thing I'm looking for is when the TV debates may be called, as that is sure to be a riot.


  1. I'd say it has been an interesting few days in the Alberta election campaign. Who would've thunk a month ago that this election was a three way between the PCs, Wildrose and NDP.

    I know the media and most people are still skeptical of the polls. Who knows how things will end up on election day.

    I believe personality would play a bigger role in this campaign than policy. Notley and Jean do not need to hammer out policy. There will be a segment of the electorate that want to see the PCs out and would vote for whichever party seems most inclined to defeat them in the last week. I could see rural populists hold their nose and vote NDP. I could also see urbanites hold their nose and vote Wildrose.

    Right now, I don't any momentum in the Prentice campaign. The PCs have the most financial resources, but do they have passionate grassroots volunteers? Progressives are not going to vote PC to block a Wildrose government this time. Disenfranchised progressives may vote for the first time.

    1. Well, a week is a lifetime in politics, and its about six or seven during a campaign - anything can change with such a fluid electorate. I would not rule out a centre-left and centrist voter push back to the PCs. That's the beauty of his position as the main "centrist" alternative - voters from one side are going to be afraid of the other side, and could strategically vote to keep out the other party. The Liberals use it at a strategy all the time, though it doesn't necessarily always work either.

      I would also not count Jim Prentice out. I had a curious thought when I was taking CBC's Vote Compass test, specifically over the question of which party leader I found most competent - and there is no doubt whatsoever that Prentice is the most competent of all of them. He has the experience, the capabilities, and the structure to be a good Premier for the province. Notley, Jean, and Swann are just smiling faces but essentially unknown. If the election comes down to the leader's personality, who are Albertan voters going to vote for - someone they know has the qualities to be a good Premier, or someone they'd have to take a risk on?

    2. Definitely. Just two or three weeks ago I thought Prentice will be invincible.

      If Prentice loses, it's just that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Just competence does not get one elected.

      Right now my gut feeling says this election would yield a different result than the what happened in Alberta the last 44 years. It could be a PC minority, Wildrose or maybe even the NDP shocking everybody including themselves. Unpredictable things are happening in this province's political scene.

      Realistically, I'm predicting a PC minority.

  2. The Albertan NDP want to increase corporate taxes, increase royalties, but offer a refinery building tax credit, and a jobs creating tax credit, that will cover 10% of the that persons salary, up to 50,000$.

  3. There has also been a new poll that has the NDP at 32%, including tied for 1st with wildrose in Calgary.

    1. I've seen it, I'll probably update in the next couple of days or so.