The latest election poll was released yesterday, and it extends the downward spiral of the UCP even further.
The Mainstreet telephone poll asked 1,003 adults, “If a provincial election were held today, how would you vote?” Only 25.9% of respondents chose the UCP.
This is a significant drop for the UCP, compared to any recent poll conducted by other firms. A poll from Research Co published last month had the UCP at 40% support, which was similar to an Environics poll in November. An Angus Reid poll at the end of November had the UCP as high as 43%.
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If these numbers can be duplicated by other polling, this is a significant blow to the UCP’s ability to hold the confidence of Alberta voters.
Other recent polls have found support for Kenney—or specifically his ability to respond to the pandemic—at or below 30% for over a month, but this is the first poll since the UCP was elected into government that has shown support for the party to be this low.
Mainstreet’s results show that the opposition NDP are holding a solid 15-point lead over the governing UCP, now sitting at 40.5%. And while that may seem encouraging to NDP supporters, it’s not as impressive as it sounds. The 3 previous polls mentioned above had the NDP at 43%, 39%, and 47%, respectively.
They were already where they are now.
Arguably, the NDP are even worse than they were in the last poll. Although a drop of 2.5 points isn’t as big as the 14% drop the UCP got. And you’d think that with the UCP getting worse, the next largest party would get better, not continue to plateau.
So, where is all their support going?
Well, here’s the thing. Those other poll results were for decided voters. Mainstreet’s poll includes undecided voters, which sits at 16.2%. That’s a pretty big chunk.
Here’s how decided and undecided numbers compare for Mainstreet:
This puts the NDP in an improved position, compared to those other 3 polls. In fact, the NDP are approaching the 50% mark. If other polls can replicate these findings, they may push into majority support fairly soon.
And while it may seem like good news for the UCP that under decided voters, they’re not as bad as they looked before, they’re now 17.5 points behind the NDP, instead of 14.6. In other words, decided voters are even less likely to vote for them.
But this poll isn’t just a story about the UCP and NDP.
Supporters of the fledgling Wildrose Independence Party—currently led on an interim basis by former Wildrose Party leader Paul Hinman—may be encouraged by the results.
Only one of the 3 earlier polls showed WIP in their results: Research Co, which had them at only 2% last month, for both undecided and decided voters. Which means that WIP has made significant gains, and for the first time since the election, someone other than the Alberta Party is in first place.
The Alberta Party was never seen as a real threat to the UCP’s voter share, even though it was taken over by disgruntled former PC party members. But the WIP is much further to the right than the Alberta Party is, and a solidly right-wing party growing in popularity could be a threat to the UCP’s voter share.
Speaking of the Alberta Party, these poll results—especially if future polls find similar numbers—can be devastating. For months, they’ve consistently hovered between 8% and 10% in the polls. In fact, this is the lowest they’ve been in a year.
It’s one thing to consistently be unable to break a certain threshold, unable to garner increased support. It’s quite another to lose support. They went from 9% in the Research Co poll to only 3.1% in Mainstreet’s poll. They have a third of the support they had a month ago.
And it gets worse.
Only 26.4% of those who voted Alberta Party in the 2019 election plan to vote for them again. Most of the rest (38.2%) plan to vote NDP, but the next largest chunk (18%) plan to vote WIP. Another roughly 10% plan to vote either for the Liberals or the UCP.
So, if the WIP are in third place and they’re taking 1 in 5 Alberta Party voters, where are the rest of their supporters coming from?
Well, more than half of those intending to vote for WIP voted for either the Alberta Independence Party (28.2%) or the Freedom Conservative Party (27.6%). Which isn’t that surprising. WIP and AIP share similar values and WIP was formed when FCP merged with Wexit Alberta.
Of their remaining supporters, 18% voted Alberta Party in 2019 (I think I said that already), 14.4% voted for the UCP, 4.4% voted for the Liberals, and 7.9% couldn’t remember who they voted for or didn’t know. Only 0.2% of former NDP voters said they’d vote WIP.
So back to our earlier question: where are all the UCP supporters going?
Only half of those who voted for the UCP in the last election plan to vote for them again. Of the other half, the largest proportion (18.2%) are still undecided, 14.4% intend to vote WIP, 12.4% intend to vote NDP, 2.3% for Alberta Party, less than 1% combined for Liberals and Greens, and 1.9% for “another party”.
How do the NDP look compared to 2019?
Well, more or less the same. Only 7.7% of those who voted for the NDP plan to vote for another party: 4% for the UCP, 1.7% for the Alberta Party, 1% for the Liberals, and a combined 0.8% for the WIP, Greens, and “another party”. About 2.8% of those who voted NDP in the last election aren’t sure who to vote for.
Actually, since we’re talking about it, here’s how the undecided voted in the last election.
The vast majority of those who aren’t sure who to vote for now voted for the AIP in 2019 (71.8%). Over a third (35.9%) claim they don’t know or can’t remember, 31.2% had picked FCP, 18.2% the UCP, 8.5% Liberals, 6% Alberta Party, and 2.8% NDP.
On a related note, of those who don’t know or can’t remember who they voted for in 2019, here’s how they plan to vote now. Unsurprisingly, 35.9% are still unsure. The next largest chunk (19.9%) plan to vote NDP. Out of seemingly nowhere, 16% plan to vote for Greens. Then 11.5% for UCP, 7.9% for WIP, 1.6% for Liberals, and 7.2% for “other party”. Literally no one in this group plans to vote for the Alberta Party.
Finally, those who didn’t vote in the last election. More than half of them (56.6%) aren’t sure who to vote for. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, and a significant portion of them may not vote in 2023 either. However, the next largest chunk (22.7%) plan to vote NDP in the next election. UCP is in third place with this group, but way lower at 7.2%. Then 5.2% for WIP, 3.6% for Liberals, 2.8% Alberta Party, and 1.9% for “another party”. Literally no one in this group plans to vote for the Greens.
So, who gets to celebrate?
Well, NDP supporters should. First, the NDP lead with nearly as many of the decided voters as all the other parties put together, including nearly 20 points ahead of the UCP. Second, they’ve retained more of their voters than any other party (89.% compared to the UCP’s 50%) and increased their share in the rest of the province by nearly 10 points. They have the largest share of those who voted for “another party” in the last election. They have the largest share of those who can’t remember who they voted for in the last election. They have strong leads in the big cities (48.5% in Calgary and 67.7% in Edmonton, compared to 33.3% and 15.8% for UCP). They have the highest support of any party among both men and women. And they have the largest share of decided voters among those who didn’t vote in the last election.
The WIP should also be pleased with these results. They’ve had their share jump significantly, including moving to third place. They’re galvanizing support from FCP and AIP voters. They’ve gone from 3% support outside Calgary and Edmonton to 15.6%. They’ve increased their vote share in every age group, including 12.1–14.6% among those older than 50. And they’ve drained more support from the UCP than any other party. They are the biggest threat on the right to the UCP. And that threat could grow if the membership chooses a strong, charismatic leader in this year’s leadership contest.
Who should worry?
Well, the UCP mostly. They’ve lost a lot. They’ve been losing support for months, and this poll has them losing a huge chunk in a short time. Among decided voters, most of that support is split between the next two most popular parties: the NDP, who are waiting in the wings, and the WIP, who are ready to take the conservative vote away. They’ve lost support in every age group. While they’ve maintained support outside of Calgary and Edmonton, their support in the two cities has dropped significantly. And of the parties still remaining from 2019, they have the highest number of voters who are now undecided.
The Alberta Party also have a lot to worry about if these numbers hold out in future polling. They are at their lowest support in a year. Heck, only 1 in 4 of the people who voted for them last time plan to vote for them again. They’re quickly following the Liberals on the road to irrelevance. I’m not even sure a new leader can save them now.
Oh, one final thing.
The next election is still two years away. A lot can happen in that time.
The poll was commissioned by The Western Standard, a right-wing online media outlet originally founded by Ezra Levant but currently under the ownership of Derek Fildebrandt, former UCP and Freedom Conservative Party MLA.
It was conducted 6–7 January 2020 and has a margin of error of ±3.09% at the 95% confidence level.