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Pre-Campaign Polling Suggests Desire for Strong Opposition in Alberta

Posted April 8th, 2015 in Alberta Election, Alberta Politics, CTV, Media Release, News by Marc Henry

Well, the PC juggernaut of 2 months ago has hit some strong headwinds.


Our ThinkHQ pre-election polling (field window for this poll closed the day before the election was called) finds the Wildrose, NDP and PCs locked in a statistical “dead-heat” province-wide. Regionally, the NDP currently enjoy a significant edge in Edmonton, while in Calgary the PCs and Wildrose are neck-and-neck.


Only two months ago, the PCs enjoyed a 20-point lead through most of the province, and were tied with the NDP in Edmonton proper.


So what happened? Three things: Wildrose floor crossings, “Look in the Mirror”, and the bad news budget. There’s little doubt that events of the last two months have chiselled away at the popularity of the Premier and his government. The electorate starts the campaign in a pretty grumbly mood.  Add to this a “pundit” narrative for the past few months speculating that Prentice would call an early election to capitalize on a disorganized opposition.


So what do these horserace numbers mean? Not a lot. What we’re capturing in the early campaign polls is some reasonably recent discontent, BUT not necessarily real INTENT.


There is considerable volatility in the electorate and the “tire kicking” has just started. According to our campaign attitudinals, fewer than one-in-five voters have definitely made up their minds about the vote at this stage.


Indeed, 87% of voters today agree that Alberta needs a strong opposition to keep the government honest. Many voters may want to show the PCs to the woodshed, but not necessarily to the gallows. And even among a segment of PC voters, there is a sense that a strong opposition wouldn’t be a bad thing for Alberta.


That’s why we need to be careful about reading too much into the early horserace numbers. Much of the electorate doesn’t want to see a massive PC majority, but ultimately, on Election Day voters are asked to select governments, not oppositions. The question expands beyond whether or not one genuinely feels the PCs deserve re-election to include, if not them, then who?


Most voters won’t be making up their minds until the final week of the campaign (indeed many won’t make their final decision until the final days or hours before casting the ballot). And it will be the later stages of the campaign when voters actually are more directly confronted with decisions about which party should be running this province.


For your viewing pleasure, the numbers: 2015 Elxn HR April 8


And remember, these represent Alberta voters’ views and intentions as of April 6th, 2015, and campaign polling has a very short “shelf life”.



Marc Henry

ThinkHQ Public Affairs, Inc.


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