Monday, June 29, 2009

Stelmach approval ratings steady

A Leger survey of 900 Albertans has found that 40% disapprove of Ed Stelmach's performance, unchanged from February 2008. In Calgary disapproval has actually dropped, from 50% to 46%.

The bottom line is that for all the criticism being directed his way by the chattering classes, the Premier is not looking much more endangered politically than when he won almost 90% of the legislature's seats.

This is not to say that there are not some warning signs. Only 5% of Albertans say their opinion of Stelmach's performance has improved, and among those who say their opinion has worsened, more university grads say that than college or institute grads, who are in turn more likely to say that their opinion has worsened than persons with only a high school diploma. But given that Stelmach's voting appeal was badly underestimated by the commentariat in February and March of 2008, I would be hesitant to conclude that he's in much trouble now.

That doesn't necessarily mean the opposition should give up, however. When I worked at Finance Canada Paul Martin's office was just a floor above the Financial Market Division's offices and my immediate supervisor had considerable personal experience dealing with him in the back and forth over writing his speeches. It followed that several of us at Finance had a pretty good idea of Paul Martin's failings, which were #1 an obsession with optics, #2 a temper, and #3 an unclear idea of what he wanted besides becoming Prime Minister. We knew that his sterling reputation for fiscal management had more to do with the senior civil servants than with Martin and his political people. Yet the speed with which this skeptical insiders perception bled out into the general public was remarkable. The catalyst seemed to be the calling of the election campaign (or perhaps the anticipation of an imminent election campaign) . Come next election, more Albertans will be paying attention, and so it is that Stelmach has reason to be concerned about the current displeasure of those who are paying attention.

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