A new poll conducted by Leger shows Alberta’s two main political parties are in for a tight race heading into next year’s election, with the NDP holding a slight lead.
The poll, conducted from Nov. 24 to 28, found that 47 percent of decided voters favor Rachel Notley’s NDP, while 44 percent plan to vote for Danielle Smith’s UCP. Leger surveyed 1,001 people, including about 851 who were categorized as a decided voter. A margin of error was not reported.
“What we’re seeing is very consistent support for the NDP and the VKP over the last six or eight months or so. They were sort of trading places in terms of leading the popular vote,” said Leger executive vice president Ian large. “It’s truly a neck-and-neck horse race, and we don’t see either of them breaking out in any significant way.”
The gap between decided voters widens in three geographic areas, with the NDP holding 51 per cent support in Calgary compared to the UCP’s 41 per cent among decided voters. The NDP is also ahead in Edmonton, with 55 per cent support to the UCP’s 33 per cent. However, the UCP has a large majority of support in “other Alberta”, with 59 per cent of decided voters saying they will vote for the governing party, compared to 32 per cent who favor the official opposition.
University of Calgary political scientist Lisa Young said the numbers in Calgary could cause concern within the UCP caucus.
“I think there are a lot of UCP MPs in Calgary who know that their seats are up for grabs, that they’re going to have a fight on their hands to get re-elected,” Young said.
Young pointed out that the survey was conducted before the Alberta Sovereignty Act was tabled. She said the bill could cause more problems for the UCP in Calgary.
The survey found that – before the bill was tabled – 32 per cent of Alberta respondents felt the act was necessary to stand up to the federal government. A total of 29 per cent of Calgarians shared that sentiment.
“There’s no great enthusiasm for it in Calgary, and that was before people saw it,” Young said.
Large said UCP changes to Alberta Health Services governance and the sovereignty law were not popular.
However, there was more support for Smith’s recently announced affordability package that will see roughly $2.8 billion handed out to Albertans to fight inflation.
A total of 49 per cent of Albertans and 49 per cent of Calgarians felt the plan would improve the lives of Albertans. However, a large part of the people also said that they believed that these measures were put in place to “buy votes.” In Calgary, 61 percent of respondents held that sentiment, the highest of any of the three regions.
“I think that when you put that together with what we’re seeing about voter intent, it kind of suggests that people are happy to cash the checks, understand that it’s useful, but still see it as a pretty cynical political ploy,” said Young, noting the policy doesn’t appear to be landing so positively in battleground Calgary.
Large said nearly half of respondents supported the affordability plan and few strongly opposed it, showing that the government’s messaging around the initiative had hit its mark. He also noted inflation is a core issue among voters, not just in Alberta, but across the country.
“It is clear that it is both. So, yes, it’s a good thing, but it’s maybe a little self-serving,” Large said.
He said that both parties will be able to find positive points in the poll overall. Large said the NDP will take solace in the fact that the UCP has not been dealt a major blow by electing a new leader, while the UCP will be able to point to strong, continued support outside of Calgary and Edmonton.