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A tale of two polls
Because of course I would.
I had an election update written and then I saw an article from Don Braid that made me do a double take. So, I decided to put that into action and write two takes based on two vastly different impressions of what the Alberta political landscape looks like in the polls.
This Week in AB — take one
Image credit: 338Canada
In 2015, you could see the momentum shift online after the official Leader’s Debate but people on the doors knew well before that.
The Progressive Conservative dynasty was going down and the previously four-member caucus NDP under Rachel Notley’s leadership leapt over the Official Opposition Wildrose Party to take over the position of government-in-waiting.
The PC campaign was falling apart… and it feels like history may be repeating itself.
The first indication that things might be moving from “we’ve got this” to “oh wait, maybe not” was the UCP incumbent from Innisfail-Sylvan Lake — also Transportation and Economic Corridors Minister — Devin Dreeshen organizing a door-knocking blitz to Calgary.
Candidates and leaders help one another out when races are close, of course, and Dreeshen taking off for a weekend isn’t going to hurt his own campaign in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
That same day, May 11, David Colletto posted a teaser about his latest Alberta polling saying he was seeing movement in the group he’d called “reluctant UCP voters” — as high as 20 per cent — those who voted UCP in 2019 but were unsure if they were going to do the same in 2023.
Other reliable pollsters were coming up with similarly high numbers for undecided voters, around 16 per cent at the end of April.
Colletto noted that the reluctant UCP vote was going down, seven points, and they’ve chosen an unlikely recipient: the NDP.
Of course, the UCP was created to corral Progressive Conservatives in with Wildrose and not everyone is happy with how that has worked out.
A former member of the Wildrose, Jeromy Farkas, who was later a Calgary City Councillor and 2021 Mayoral candidate, added his voice to other Conservatives loudly denouncing the path the UCP has chosen in a May 12 appearance on Calgary Eyeopener.
“We supported bringing the parties together because we thought we were going to get the best of both worlds; we thought were going to get Wildrose, I’ll call it ‘financial’ responsibility and transparency, married with PC competence and progressive social values but instead we got the worst — the big spending and corruption of the PCs combined with some really extreme views of the Wildrose,” Farkas said.
Smith was always going to remind voters of the “Lake of Fire” era of Wildrose — she was the leader of the party during that time and wore the party’s failure to form government in 2012.
It’s difficult for a politician to shake off tacit support for spreading fear and hate. Smith admitted later that she, as the party leader, could have taken a stronger stance against the opinions of her candidates (or, wild suggestion, in support of the party’s LGBTQ2S+ members).
We can attribute this momentum to almost anything we choose but it does appear to be building behind the “inheritor of the Lougheed tradition,” since we’re quoting Danielle Smith on the daily.
This week in AB - take two
Mainstreet polling has consistently shown that while the UCP’s lead is slowly diminishing it’s not yet enough to say the party is over (pun intended).
Janet Brown, Alberta’s most respected pollster, had her recent poll leaked Monday and that paints a different story — that the UCP is still comfortably in the lead in both Calgary and Alberta as a whole. Edmonton is still showing up as a write-off for them but that shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Much like the 2019 election, the NDP has had difficulty positioning themselves as the answer to all that ails the province. Part of that is because they are still focused on the awful things the UCP leader has done and said before while Albertans may be otherwise focused on what they are saying they will do.
Over the weekend, I had a discussion about personality and intention.
In 2019, the NDP focused on the things Jason Kenney had said and done in the past but Albertans as a majority were more focused on what he was saying he would do for them.
Jobs. Economy. Pipelines.
As a majority, Albertans chose not to put the same amount of emphasis on who the person was, preferring to be hopeful that the leader would make good on their promise to return to Alberta to the land of free-flowing money, money, money.
Smith is doing a good job waving away her own previous comments, conversations, tweets, podcasts, radio shows, opinion pieces, and basically everything else about herself in favour of staying the economic course.
It would appear that this strategy is not hurting the UCP’s chances and that would mean, once again, the NDP have misjudged the target.
I have been softly cancelled for this previously but I cannot in good conscience ignore that: just because you want someone to care about an issue that is important to you, it does not mean anyone will.
Some are trying to fight for the soul of conservatism itself (and will not support the NDP) but let’s be honest here, many others are more strongly attached to the moniker than the principles. I’m no longer convinced it has a big enough target audience to matter.
Meanwhile, other former self-professed conservatives have determined it is more principled to “lend their votes” to the NDP rather than risk a Smith win.
Sure, it might help this time but it’s certainly not building support for another dynasty.
This campaign has, again, pitted fear against fear and it’s forcing people to choose what they fear most for themselves, not others.
It’s also making them consider “the devil they know”.
In a province that most reliably votes conservative, that devil wears blue — not orange.
Event notice!! Paid subscribers! Keep an eye on your emails Thursday for an invite to Women of ABpoli’s watch party on May 18!! We’ll watch together and then record our next episode — see you there!