Edmonton Journal

NDP holds clear lead: poll

PCs, Wildrose competitiv­e outside Edmonton


NDP Leader Rachel Notley holds a commanding lead in Alberta’s provincial election campaign, with 38 per cent of decided voters planning to cast a ballot for her party, according to a new poll commission­ed by the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald.

She has persuaded scores of Liberal, Progressiv­e Conservati­ve and even Wildrose voters to join her, and one in three of those polled say she would make the best premier for Alberta — more than any other party leader in the race.

NDP support remains concentrat­ed in Edmonton, where 56 per cent of decided voters will support Notley’s party. Jim Prentice’s Progressiv­e Conservati­ves are a distant second, at 21 per cent, followed by the Wildrose at 16 per cent.

Calgary is the key battlegrou­nd: Tories have 33 per cent of the decided vote, NDP has 30 per cent and Brian Jean’s Wildrose party has fallen to third place, with 26-per-cent support.

Tories also have the lead outside the major cities, with 35 per cent of decided voters planning to cast a ballot for the 44-year-old dynasty. The NDP has 30-per-cent support, while the Wildrose has 29 per cent.

The Liberal and Alberta parties trail a distant fourth and fifth across the province, respective­ly. Neither is running a full slate of candidates.

Leger vice-president Ian Large said the heavy concentrat­ion of NDP support in Edmonton distorts the overall numbers, making it appear as though the party is certain to win, but the regional vote-splitting suggests the Tories and Wildrose remain competitiv­e and the outcome of the election is anyone’s guess.

“There will be very close races in Calgary and outside of the major cities,” Large said. “There are a number of ways the dice could roll on Tuesday.

“The Wildrose and the Conservati­ves could split the right-wing vote, allowing the NDP to make significan­t gains in Calgary,” he said. “Or, Wildrose voters may move to block the NDP by switching their vote to the Conservati­ves.”

Large said the poll shows the NDP has had considerab­le success at wooing voters from other parties while keeping core supporters.

A staggering 94 per cent of Albertans who voted NDP in the 2012 election expect to vote NDP again in 2015, while 60 per cent of those who voted Liberal expect to throw their support behind Notley on Tuesday. Of those who voted for Alison Redford’s Tories in 2012, 30 per cent will cast a ballot for the NDP this time around.

Jim Prentice’s Tories have picked up some support from the right: Among those who voted for Danielle Smith’s Wildrose in 2012, 17 per cent will switch their votes to the Tories in 2015. However, 50 per cent of those who voted for the Tories in 2012 will not vote for them again in 2015.

Some of that support has gone to the Wildrose — 16 per cent of those who voted Tory in 2012 will vote Wildrose in 2015. But for every one disaffecte­d Tory voter who will take her vote to the Wildrose, two will take their vote to the NDP.

“The question is whether we’ve gone from this anger with the Tories to rejecting the Tories,” Mount Royal University political scientist David Taras said. “That’s what this poll shows, and the rejection now has a direction.

Taras said polls that show growing NDP support are dangerous for Tories because they “legitimize” the decision to vote NDP.

“There have always been social barriers in Alberta,” Taras said. “You didn’t want to say you weren’t going to vote for (former premier Ralph) Klein. It was something you would never say, socially.”

Polls can change that, he said. “All of the sudden, they come out of the woodwork and say, ‘Geez, it’s OK to vote NDP. … I can say it. I can tell my friends.’ ”

The Leger poll surveyed 1,180 eligible Alberta voters between April 26 and April 28. Those polled were selected randomly from a Leger Internet panel of 400,000 Canadian households and the final data was weighted by age, gender and region. kkleiss@edmontonjo­urnal.com

 ?? JOHN LUCAS/ EDMONTON JOURNAL ?? Jasmine Wronko, 5, helps her mother Cheri Harris vote on Wednesday in an advance poll at McKernan Community Hall.
JOHN LUCAS/ EDMONTON JOURNAL Jasmine Wronko, 5, helps her mother Cheri Harris vote on Wednesday in an advance poll at McKernan Community Hall.

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