With one day left in the Alberta election campaign, the Wildrose Party is the comfortable frontrunner, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.
The online survey of a representative sample of 800 Alberta adults also shows that not only is Danielle Smith perceived as the best choice for premier, she is also regarded as the best person to deal with important issues such as government accountability, managing the deficit, the economy and crime, according to Albertans.
Among decided voters in Alberta, 41 per cent indicate they would vote for the Wildrose Party, with the incumbent Progressive Conservative Party in second place with 32 per cent. In third and fourth position the Liberal Party and New Democratic Party (NDP) remain in close contention with 13 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.
While the Wildrose Party’s lead over the competition is significant in Calgary with 44 per cent support (compared to 32% for the Progressive Conservatives), the party is in a dead heat with the PC’s in Edmonton (35 per cent vs. 33 per cent, respectively).
Among the four main parties, the Progressive Conservatives have the lowest voter retention with only 38 per cent of those who voted for Ed Stelmach’s PCs in 2008 saying they would support the party now. Moreover, over one-half (56%) who voted for the PCs in the last election now indicate they will vote for the Wildrose Party. The Wildrose party has the highest voter retention with 77 per cent, followed by the NDP (61%) and Liberal Party (46%).
Issues, Approval and Momentum
When asked about the most important issue facing the province, Albertans point to health care (34%), followed by government spending (14%), the economy (12%), and ethics/accountability (9%).
Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith’s approval rating is relatively on par with Premier and Progressive Conservative Party leader Alison Redford (48 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively). Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman’s approval is slightly behind the two frontrunners at 41 per cent, followed by New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Brian Mason (39%).
Among all four candidates, Alison Redford has the lowest momentum score (-28) with only 14% of Albertans saying their opinion of the premier has improved over the last three months. Danielle Smith also experiences negative momentum, although not as pronounced as Redford’s (-8) while Brian Mason’s (+9) and Raj Sherman’s (+1) momentum scores are both positive.
Danielle Smith continues to be perceived as the leader who would make the best premier of the province (31%), followed by current head of government Alison Redford at 25 per cent. Smith is also the leader who is perceived to have the most success when dealing with government accountability (36%), managing the deficit (35%), the economy (32%) and crime (25%). Premier Redford is considered to be the leader best able to deal with federal/provincial relations (34%). Liberal leader Raj Sherman is perceived to be the leader to be able to deal with the issue that Albertans express the most concern over: health care (30%).
Three-in-five (60%) Albertans believe it is time for a change in government in the province, while 22 per cent think the Progressive Conservative Party should be re-elected. Respondents are relatively divided on the outcome of next week’s election, with 41 per cent predicting a Wildrose victory, and 36 per cent foreseeing another Progressive Conservative government.
When asked about specific characteristics of the two frontrunners, both Redford and Smith are perceived to be good communicators (70% and 68%, respectively). However, Albertans give Smith an edge in the categories ‘shares your values’ (37%), ‘can bring the kind of change Alberta needs’ (40%), and ‘is in touch with the problems ordinary Albertans face in their daily lives’ (45%). Albertans give Redford a higher score when it comes to ‘dealing with labour unions effectively in the event of a dispute’ (28%).
Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Party are poised to make history on Monday night as the first non-Progressive Conservative governing party elected to power in Alberta in the last 41 years. This was all made possible within the last six months when support for Smith’s party gradually overtook the PCs, while Smith herself surpassed Redford in terms of approval, personal momentum, and impression as a suitable leader.
During this time, the Wildrose Party has positioned itself as an electable alternative to Redford’s Progressive Conservatives and brought support from many who voted for the PCs in the last election. With the exception of health care, Danielle Smith has positioned herself and her party as best able to deal with the most important issues on the minds of Albertans by capitalizing on discontent over deficit budgets and perceived political greed on issues of salary.
While Raj Sherman and the Liberal Party are perceived to be best able to deal with health care, the issue of highest concern to Albertans, this does not translate into support for the party. With the NDP’s level of support on-par with that of the 2008 election, it is the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals who stand to lose the most, with the prospect of significant decreases in votes compared to the 2008 outcome
Jodi Shanoff, Senior Vice President, Angus Reid Public Opinion
+416 642 7699
Methodology: From April 20 to April 21, 2011, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 800 randomly selected Alberta adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Alberta. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.