Alberta Politics: Final Election Poll – WR 41, PC 31, NDP 13, ALP 12

Wildrose Headed Towards Win

Wildrose leads in Calgary and outside the cities; PCs ahead in Edmonton

Ottawa – A new survey from Abacus Data conducted for the Sun News Network finds that heading into the final weekend of the campaign, Wildrose has a 10 percentage point lead over the incumbent PCs.  The Wildrose Party is  poised to win the 2012 Alberta general election unless something dramatic happens during the final weekend.

Province-wide, the Wildrose Party has the support of 41% of decided voters (down five), followed by the PCs at 31% (up two), the NDP at 13% (up one) and the Liberals at 12% (up two).  Ten percent of respondents said they were undecided even after being asked if they are leaning to one party.

This is the first week of tracking in which Wildrose is down from the previous week among decided voters.  Nonetheless, PCs have not taken full advantage of the Wildrose drop with all four other parties picking up some support from the previous week.

Regional Breakdown

The Wildrose Party’s commanding lead in Calgary last week has closed with Wildrose at 44% followed by the PCs at 29%, the Liberals at 13%, and the NDP at 12%.  In Edmonton, the PCs continue to lead with 36%, followed by Wildrose at 29%, the Liberals at 17%, and the NDP at 16%.

Outside of the two major cities, the Wildrose Party has a commanding 25-point lead over the PCs with the Wildrose at 52%, PCs at 28%, and the NDP at 11%.  The Liberals are in single digits at 6%.

Male Voters Are Wildrose Bedrock

As we have seen throughout the campaign, the Wildrose Party has a commanding lead among male voters.  Forty six percent of male voters (46%) say they plan to vote Wildrose compared with 26% for the PC Party.  Among women, the two main parties are statistically tied with Wildrose at 37% and the PCs at 35%.

Party Leadership

Respondents were also asked to rate their impression of each of the four main party leaders.

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith’s personal numbers have taken a hit in the last week.  The percentage of respondents viewing her favourably is down five percentage points to 36% while her unfavourable numbers are up seven points to 34%.  Her net favourable-unfavourable score is +2, the lowest it has been since we started tracking in early March.

Premier Alison Redford’s personal numbers are also trending negatively with 37% of respondents saying they view her negatively compared with 30% who view her favourably.  Her favourable-unfavourable score is -7, the lowest it has been throughout the campaign.

The only positive news from our leadership numbers comes for Brian Mason.  The percentage of respondents viewing him favourably increased by six points to 24% while the 25% who view him unfavourable is down three points from the previous week.  41% of respondents have a neutral impression of the NDP leader.

Net Favourability (favourable – unfavourable)

PC Leader Alison Redford           -7
WRA Leader Danielle Smith       +2
ALP Leader Raj Sherman            -11
NDP Leader Brian Mason            -1

What these numbers suggest is that the negativity of the campaign in the past few days has hurt not only Danielle Smith but Alison Redford as well.  Instead of trying to attract Liberal and NDP voters to their cause, the negative and personal tone of the PC attacks may have hurt the Wildrose Party but also made it difficult for Liberals and NDs to vote PC.

Direction of the PC Government

Overall, about six in ten Albertans surveyed (58%) believed that the PC Government in Alberta is headed on the wrong track (down 3 points since last week) while 30% believed the PC Government was headed in the right direction (up 3 points).

Management of the Oil Sands

The Wildrose Party continues to hold a slight advantage on who Albertans trust most to manage the oil sands.  One in three Albertans said they trust Wildrose the most (33%) followed by the PCs at 30%, and none of them at 13%.

The Bottom Line

Heading into the final three days of the campaign, the 2012 Alberta election is the Wildrose Party’s to lose.  Alberta is on the cusp of defeating the 41 year-old PC dynasty and replacing it with an up-start, new Wildrose Party.

Polling throughout the campaign has been relatively stable with Wildrose slowly gaining among decided voters until the last week of the campaign.  After the Leaders Debate and a number of gaffes by Wildrose candidates, the gap between Wildrose and the PCs has closed.

The bruising campaign has left few unscathed.  Both Danielle Smith and Alison Redford are viewed more unfavourably than when the campaign began.

The other story heading into voting day is the likelihood of a very regionalized legislature.  Edmonton looks poised to elect and re-elect a large number of PC MLAs while outside of Calgary and Edmonton, Wildrose is likely to do very well.  Calgary remains the wildcard in the election.  Although Wildrose, as of last night, holds a healthy 13-point lead in Alberta’s largest city, the party is trending down.  The question is whether the trend continues throughout the weekend or whether Wildrose can stop the bleeding.  If Wildrose can keep a margin of 10% in Calgary, they will be in a good position to win enough seats to form a majority government.

Methodology

From April 18 to 19, 2012, Abacus Data conducted a provincial survey of 1,076 Albertans aged 18 and over using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, which allows respondents to enter their preferences by punching the keypad on their phone, rather than telling them to an operator.

The survey was commissioned by Sun News Network.

A dual landline/cell phone RDD samping frame was used in this study.

The margin of error for a sample size of 1,076 is + 3.0%, 19 times out of 20.  Note that the margin of error is higher for subgroups and caution should be used when making conclusions of data in subgroups with small sample sizes.

For more information about the survey findings, please contact Dr. David Coletto, CEO Abacus Data Inc. at (613) 884-4730 or david@abacusdata.ca