Friday, December 11, 2009

new poll: in Edmonton Wildrose 36%, Lib 26%, PC 25%, NDP 12%

Angus Reid has released a poll of 1000 Albertans, the same size as the Environics poll released on November 5. A possible issue with this new poll is that it was a survey of Angus Reid Forum participants, and there may be some self-selection involved there. But leaving that aside, comparing these two polls is somewhat problematic, because while the pollster enumerated 5 options in both cases, Environics listed the Greens as the fifth option and Angus Reid (more correctly in my view since no Green party is currently recognized by Elections Alberta) listed the fifth option as "Other." Nonetheless, it appears that support for the PCs continued to slump across the province from late October to late November, with much of the drop in PC support in Calgary going to the Liberals and with the drop in Edmonton going pretty much entirely to Wildrose. The appearance of PC support bleeding to the Liberals in Calgary nonetheless strikes me as possibly just appearance, as the more likely explanation is that the Environics poll understated Liberal support in Calgary. Fact is, the Liberals took a greater share of the vote in Calgary in 2008 than within Edmonton city limits (33.9% vs 33.5%). Given that the Alberta Liberals have since proceeded to replace an Edmonton leader with a Calgary leader, the idea that the Liberals are at 30% in Calgary and 26% in Edmonton, as Angus Reid reckons it, strikes me as a lot more plausible then the Environics verdict that just 20% of Calgarians are inclined to vote for the red team.

It is also worth noting that Angus Reid confirms Environics' finding that NDP support in the capital city is down from the March 2008 election. Where have the 6 or 7 points the NDP appear to have lost from their 18% election share gone? Presumably to David Swann's Liberals, yet Edmonton Liberal support is also down 6 or 7 points relative to 2008 which means there may be a lot of Edmontonians who voted for Kevin Taft's team who are nonplussed with David Swann's group. That's something that makes a lot of sense to me, since while Kevin Taft and his talk about excessive PC spending led me to view him rather positively, I don't identify with David Swann at all.

The crosstabs are often the most interesting part of a poll. The province-wide breakdown for those in the $100K+ household income bracket is Wildrose 46%, PC 30%, and Liberal 16%. Given that the average household income in Edmonton Whitemud is $132K (and that is back in 2005), this may explain why our organizing in Whitemud has been so successful. I mean, look at this, Angus Reid has the Liberals in 2nd place after Wildrose in all demographics in Edmonton and for the six figure crowd (albeit province-wide for this tab) it is a 30 point gap, 46 to 16. The Edmonton Whitemud nomination for Wildrose is going to be hotly contested!

Besides Wildrose doing especially well in the rural south while the Alberta Liberals are quite weak in the rural north, the other crosstab of note is that Wildrose support skews noticeably older, with the Liberals skewing the other way (the PCs are inbetween on this tab, as on many). This is consistent with my experience on the ground and I have to admit I have been wearing out my welcome with a few older Wildrosers as I try to shove young, university educated people (uni grads being another demographic where Wildrose is weak and the Libs strong, with the Liberals running 8 points ahead across the province in this group according to this poll) to the front of the line. The mentality of the people on constituency association boards, on the provincial executive, and surrounding the leader is going to set the tone for the party as a whole, and accordingly I think the party needs to actively work to avoid adopting stances that preach to the choir. Environmentalism is a lot more popular with people of Danielle Smith's age and younger than those older, and I hope that older Wildrosers understand that there may be more to gain by expanding our foothold with 20 and 30-somethings than by messaging to older Albertans whom Wildrose has already won over by an absolute majority according to Angus Reid.

While I appreciate the idea of running up the score on favourable ground, my experience of politics has been that returns on investment decline after a certain point such that, for example, trying to shake the third round of votes off a tree is tough going because we are talking about fruit here that doesn't give up on the old branch easily. Find another tree and give it a first time shake. An effective shake means understanding what the tree is about and what makes it grow. I believe older Wildrosers are more than willing to cooperate so long as younger ones explain themselves (and the strategic value of bringing in their colleagues to positions whereby they could influence the party's stance) instead of just getting pushy and demanding with the old guard. In any case, whether new to the party or old, I would think most Wildrose Alliance members understand that the party is in the position it presently is because of one reason above all others.

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