Conservative support slipping in Alberta: poll

[By way of the Lethbridge Herald, no less. *RON*]

Dave Mabell, Lethbridge Herald, 25 October 2014

For Stephen Harper, there’s no place like home. Calgary – and most of Alberta – can be counted on to elect a Conservative MP every time.

But the Conservative party support continues to slip across the province, according to the latest survey from the Citizen Society Research Lab in Lethbridge. It’s fallen to 41.5 per cent of Alberta voters, down from 53 per cent just two years ago.

If there’s any good news for the governing Tories, it’s that neither of the main opposition parties seem to be gaining ground.

“People are tired of the Conservatives,” reports political scientist Faron Ellis. “But they just can’t stand voting Liberal or NDP.”

Despite his personal appeal, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals attracted just 16.7 per cent of the “if an election was held today” voting intentions. That’s up from 10.7 support for the Liberals two years ago – but down from 18.3 per cent just a year ago.

Across Alberta, the federal New Democrats were as high as 19.2 per cent in 2011. But the latest survey, completed earlier this month, shows them sinking to 10.8 per cent.

The Greens seem to be the only party picking up support, Ellis says. After two years in the six per cent range, they’re now up to 9.6 per cent across Alberta.

“That’s a default protest vote,” he says.

“In a competitive riding, the Green or other minor parties’ votes just disappear.”

After close to a decade in power, political parties are seldom able to hold their initial support. Ellis says that’s one reason the number of undecided voters continues to climb.

“Most of the drop in the Conservative vote is shopping around,” with more than 19 per cent telling this month’s survey callers they didn’t know how they’d vote.

That compares to 8.3 per cent of Albertans in 2011, an election year.

Conservatives are strongest in Calgary, the survey confirms, with 56.3 per cent of the decided voters. They’re weakest in Edmonton, at 41 per cent of those who’ve made up their minds.

Federal Liberals are second in Edmonton (25 per cent) and Calgary (21.8) while New Democrats are also competitive in Edmonton with 18 per cent of committed voters. If an opposition party’s support is focused in a particular constituency, Ellis adds, an upset is possible.

With several longtime Conservative MPs retiring, he points out, some Alberta ridings could prove interesting during next year’s election campaign.

One of those seats is Edmonton Centre, Ellis says.

“Anne McLellan held it for four terms” for the Liberals, and became deputy prime minister for Paul Martin.