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Alberta Politics: Wildrose Continues Lead Over PCs

Wildrose Lead Holding Over PCs

PCs and Wildrose tied for most trusted to manage oil sands; Edmonton still a battleground

Ottawa – A new survey from Abacus Data conducted for the Sun News Network finds that the Wildrose Party continues to lead the incumbent Progressive Conservative Party in the provincial election.  Buoyed by strong numbers in Calgary and outside of Alberta’s two largest urban centres, the Wildrose Party has a 12-point lead over the PCs.  Support for the Alberta Liberal Party is down four points from last week with much it shift moving over to the Tories.

Province-wide, the Wildrose Party has the support of 43% of decided voters, followed by the PCs at 31%, the Liberals at 12% and the NDP at 11%.

Regional Breakdown

The Wildrose Party continues to have a commanding lead in Calgary with 44% of decided voters saying they plan to vote Wildrose compared with 27% for the PCs, 15% for the Liberals, and 9% for the NDP.  Edmonton continues to be competitive with the Tories up slightly to 35% followed by the Wildrose Party at 33% and the NDP and Liberals trailing at 16% and 13% respectively.

Outside of the two major cities, the Wildrose Party leads in Central Alberta including Red Deer and in the southern region of the province.  Northern Alberta remains more competitive between the Tories and the Wildrose Party.

PC Advantage Among Women Disappears

The PC Party’s strength among female voters continues to erode.  In early March we found that the PCs had a big lead among women.  Last week, the Wildrose Party had closed the gap and were tied with the PCs.  This week, the Wildrose Party leads among women with 41% saying they would vote Wildrose and 33% preferring the PC Party.

The Wildrose Party continues to do very well among men besting the Tories by 16 percentage points (WRP 45%, PC 29%, ALP 11%, NDP 11%).

Party Leadership

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

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith continues to be the only party leader with higher favourable numbers than unfavourable numbers.

Premier Alison Redford was viewed favourably by 30% of Albertans (up two points) while 31% had an unfavourable impression of the PC Leader (down three points).  Three in ten were indifferent towards her while 8% said they were unsure.

Danielle Smith fared slightly better than the Premier with a 36% of Albertans having a favourable impression of her (up one point) and 23% viewing her unfavourably (down one point).

Both Raj Sherman and Brian Mason were viewed less favourably with more voters having a neutral opinion of both.  Both men face a challenge of getting attention in what appears to be a two-party race led by two dynamic female leaders.

Net Favourability (favourable – unfavourable)

PC Leader Alison Redford           -1
WRA Leader Danielle Smith       +14
ALP Leader Raj Sherman            -15
NDP Leader Brian Mason            -11

“Although Alison Redford’s personal favourability numbers are now about even, Danielle Smith’s advantage continues to grow,” said Abacus CEO David Coletto.  “The only upside for Premier Redford is that neither Raj Sherman or Brian Mason is gaining any traction with Albertans presenting the Premier an opportunity to consolidate any anti-Wildrose sentiment in her tent.”

Direction of the PC Government

Overall, six in ten Albertans surveyed (57%) believed that the PC Government in Alberta is headed on the wrong track (down three points since last week) while 41% believed the PC Government was headed in the right direction (up three points).  This change is statistically insignificant.

Amongst the PC base, support for the PC government remains high.  Nine in ten PC Party supporters believed the PC government was headed in the right direction compared with 10% of WRP supporters, 39% of Liberal supporters, and 27% of NDP supporters.

Management of the Oil Sands

Albertans continue to be divided on which party they think can best manage Alberta’s oil sands.

The PCs and Wildrose Party were statistically tied on who Albertans trust the most to manage the oil sands.   This represents no change from last week’s survey.

Bottom Line

Near the end of the second week of the campaign, the Wildrose Party’s lead from the first week of the campaign is holding.  More important for the upstart opposition party is the fact that many of the fundamentals in other poll numbers remain strong.  Danielle Smith is the most popular leader, most Albertans think the PC government is headed in the wrong direction, and most rate the Alberta economy as strong.

The fact that a majority of Albertans rate the Alberta economy as very good or good would normally be considered an asset for an incumbent government.  But in this case, it may be having the opposite effect.  Since most consider things to be going well economically, the risk in electing Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Party may not be as great.

Our polling during the provincial election in Ontario found that Ontarians were cautiously optimistic about the economy.  They didn’t think it was going well but also weren’t too worried about it.  This so-so attitude about the economy allowed the incumbent Liberals to raise doubts about change and the opposition parties.

The PCs continue to be in serious trouble.  Although they remain competitive in Edmonton, their support in Calgary and in the rural and smaller communities of the province is anemic at best.  The Wildrose is in a good position to sweep into power with a majority government.

Abacus Data will conduct polls for the Sun News Network every week during the campaign with results released on Friday on the Sun News Network and Saturday in the Calgary Sun and Edmonton Sun.

In the middle of next week, Abacus Data will release a detailed online survey of vote intention, party and leader brands, and issues.

 Download the detailed tables.

Methodology

From April 2 to 4, 2012, Abacus Data conducted a provincial survey of 876 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.  This is the pre-writ survey of Alberta voters.  Throughout the campaign, Abacus Data and Sun News/Sun Media will be surveying Albertans on the provincial election.

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

The margin of error for a sample size of 876  is + 3.4%, 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.