I've done a bit of digging into the data behind Alberta's polls.
Before I go further, lets re-examine the recent polls:
The most shocking was a recent poll showing the NDP in first.
29% - NDP
24% - WR
23% - PC
15% - LIB
Next is another shocker from ThinkHQ
31% - WR
26% - NDP
25% - PC
12% - LIB
Next is a poll from Insights West
31% - PC
27% - WR
22% - NDP
15% - LIB
Next is a poll from Mainstreet Technologies
30% - PC
30% - WR
22% - NDP
14% - LIB
Last is an old poll from a month ago from Environics
46% - PC
18% - LIB
17% - NDP
16% - WR
There are a few clear things to note.
First, all 3 recent polls are from smaller companies with less of a quality record of being correct.
Second, all 3 recent polls show a very strong change from polls taken since the Smith defection.
Third, all 3 recent polls, however, are similar to polls from just prior to the defection, with one simple change:
The NDP is sucking up Liberal voters.
What I find interesting when I examine the tabs of the polls that have them, is that a group of voters have just vanished.
Wildrose voters who, after Smith defected, said they were going to vote PC.
These people have not seemed to have gone back to Wildrose; though due to limited information I could be wrong. This bloc of voters appears to have just disappeared. When I add them back in, and, try to average out the polls a bit, I get a more realistic number. In addition, I see a very strong trend, Liberal voters; especially outside Calgary, are abandoning the party.
While in 2012 we saw the Liberal and NDP vote drop to 10% each, this was, in part, due to people voting for Redford to stop Smith. Going back to 2008 we see the Liberals took 26% and the NDP 9%, for a total of 35% of the vote on the "left" With that kept in mind, it is therefore not so crazy to say the NDP is possibly at 30%, and makes much more sense if the Liberals, who appear to be doing very poorly, are, actually, at 5%.
The NDP actually is doing very well.
The PC Party actually is doing poorly.
Wildrose actually is competitive.
And none of these 3 are to the extreme that more recent polls have tried to tell us.
Due to all that I feel a more "realistic" number for the parties as as follows:
38% - PC
27% - WR
23% - NDP
12% - LIB
Just to re-iterate, this is my personal prediction of where the polls stand, with an adjustment for what I feel will happen to the Liberal vote.
The good thing about this shocking poll result mentioned earlier is it will encourage more reputable companies to poll the province to try to figure out what is going on. Hopefully one of them will have that crucial tab that has always served me well in finding polling flaws - raw numbers of respondents and how they claim to have voted in the past election.
Consistently and without fail this tab has let me know one thing; who is staying home. If the raw data shows that one or another party has fewer people who claim to have voted for them, it indicates that these people have been turned off not just their party, but politics, and will be unlikely to vote. Pollsters try to weight the parties back to their last-election level, but doing this only doubles the error in their polling. When I take out that error and go with the real base numbers, I almost always get polling results that match the real results in elections where polling and the results are quite distant.
One thing to note is that this personal prediction of mine ends up being quite close to our Blunt Objects Official Projection, with the only major change being my predicted Liberal-to-NDP swing.
I can't see the Liberals holding on to any seats outside Calgary, with the possible exception of Blakeman. Meadowlark is a Raj Sherman seat, not a Liberal seat. The last time the Liberals took it without Sherman, they were far ahead of their current position in the polls. I'd be less surprised to see the NDP take 14 seats in Edmonton. which, frankly, may well happen.
In Calgary I also see some problem spots. Without Kang, who so heavily won the advance vote last time that media outlets who went to print before they were out said Wildrose had won it, McCall may be in trouble. The only two ridings that are certainties for the party are Buffalo and Mountain View. At this time I'm likely to give McCall to the Liberals on the grounds that we've still yet to see any total collapse in the Liberal vote.
What that gives us is this: