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Alberta Votes 2019 – Voters Review Provincial Party Leaders

Posted April 8th, 2019 in Alberta Election, Alberta Politics, Media Release, News, Uncategorized by Marc Henry

The sour tone of Alberta’s 2019 provincial campaign is clearly reflected in voter evaluations of party leaders as the election enters its final week; in varying degrees, ALLof the provincial party leaders receive negative ratings from the electorate according to a new ThinkHQ survey.



Rachel Notley


The NDP’s election script has heavily emphasized criticism toward UCP leader Jason Kenney, his roster of candidates, and his “fitness to govern”. While this approach has been reasonably effective in driving negativity toward Kenney, it has not improved the Premier’s personal standings with voters. Moreover, in Calgary where the NDP need to keep/grow their seat count, the NDP leader’s ratings are statistically identical to those for Kenney.

  • Fully one-half (50%) of Alberta voters say they disapprove of the Premier today, while 46% offer approval

  • Approval for Notley is highest in Edmonton (61%), and declines with age and increases with education levels among voters


Jason Kenney


Over the first three weeks of campaigning, the UCP leader has weathered a massive amount of negative information directed toward him. While his personal “negatives” have climbed significantly since March, his approval has held reasonably firm (growth in negativity has come from those previously unsure about Kenney).

  • Over one-half (53%) of Alberta voters currently hold a negative view of Jason Kenney, compared to 41% who approve of him as UCP leader
  • Kenney’s negatives have jumped eight percentage points since the writ dropped in March
  • Edmonton is hostile territory for the UCP leader where only 32% say they approve of him. There is also a significant “gender gap” in approval for Kenney, with men offering considerably more positive ratings than women
  • Approval for the UCP leader tends to increase with age and decline with education levels of voters


Stephen Mandel & David Khan


Opposition leaders often “struggle for oxygen” in Alberta. Typically, high proportions of voters do not pay attention to them (or at least are unable to rate their performance), and among those who do know them, these leaders generally find themselves in “negative” territory. Such was the pre-writ dilemma for Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel and Liberal leader David Khan.  


But election campaigns provide these leaders with exposure, and an opportunity for voters to get to know (and more importantly to like) them. Both Mandel and Khan have seen substantial increases in their personal approval in the past month, with a roughly equivalent drop in uncertainty.

  • Stephen Mandel’s approval has climbed 13 percentage points since the start of the writ, now sitting at 38% vs. 39% disapproval. Based upon “net approval” scores Mandel is the most popular provincial leader right now
  • David Khan’s personal approval is up 16 percentage points since late March; currently at 31% compared to 45% who disapprove


Derek Fildebrandt

The leader of the fledgling Freedom Conservative Party has a damaged reputation among Alberta voters.

  • Fully 56% of Alberta voters say they disapprove of Fildebrandt, compared to only 12% who approve, and one-third (32%) who are unable to rate him


Who won the Debate? And does it matter?

While the only televised leaders’ debate of the 2019 election may have been entertaining, the outcome was not decisive. Despite the lack of a “knock-out”, the debate may stall any momentum for the governing NDP in the closing days of the campaign as a plurality of voters think Jason Kenney performed best and Rachel Notley worst.

      • Roughly one-third (34%) of Alberta voters report watching all or most of the leaders’ debate last Thursday, while a majority say they have followed media coverage of the event at least fairly closely
      • Among those who watched the debate themselves or have followed it in the media, Jason Kenney is seen as the leader who performed best by 28%, followed by Notley (17%) and Khan/Mandel with 10% each
      • Meanwhile, among this same group 28% believe Rachel Notley performed worst, followed by Kenney (23%), Mandel (9%) and Khan (7%)
      • The view on who won and lost the debate are more pronounced among those who either watched the entire debate themselves or have followed it closely in the media


Commenting on the survey results, ThinkHQPresident Marc Henry notes:


“This has been one of the most vitriolic campaigns in recent memory, and it shows; Alberta voters are not bullish on ANY of the leadership alternatives available to them. Jason Kenney’s personal disapproval has climbed sharply in the past month, so the NDP strategy of focusing on his leadership has been at least partially effective. Their challenge is that his approval has not diminished, and the tone of their campaign has not enhanced their own leader’s reputation among voters. This is particularly notable in Calgary where the NDP must do well to retain government – Notley and Kenney’s approval ratings are statistically identical.


Khan and Mandel have seen the most improvement in their profile and personal standing among Alberta voters, however neither finds themselves in positive territory.


If the NDP had any momentum behind them going into the leaders’ debate, it has likely stalled. Three of the four leaders did what they needed to do on debate night; one did not. Rachel Notley needed a decisive win last week to carry forward momentum to election day, and she didn’t get it.”


Click here to view the full release and methodology: Provincial Party Leader Release April 8, 2019




Marc Henry, President ThinkHQ Public Affairs, Inc.



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