Last month, The Western Standard published the results of a new Mainstreet poll on Alberta voter intention, showing the fledgling Wildrose Alliance Party rising in the polls.
The article is stuck behind a paywall, but Quito Maggi, president and CEO of Mainstreet, tweeted a summary of the results for decided and leaning voters.
Mainstreet had the NDP at 38%, the UCP at 31%, and the WIP at 17%, its highest poll placement since the party was created last summer.
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According to 338Canada, an election analysis site, this is only the 4th poll that has placed the WIP, the two most recent of which showed them at only 4% and 6%.
The last Mainstreet poll, published in January, had the new party at 10%, which means their latest poll shows significant gains for the party.
Some left-leaning voters on social media are pretty excited about these new results, thinking it means this new strength will split the right vote, ensuring an NDP win in 2023.
However, there’s something you should know.
Here. Look at the results of the two Mainstreet polls side by side.
Even though the Wildrose did jump in the polls, the UCP never even budged an inch. In fact, the party that did budge the most was the NDP, who dropped by 10 points.
If we add up all the gains from the parties who increased support—Alberta Party, Greens, and Wildrose—it comes to 10 percentage points, the same number of points the NDP lost.
This new loss for the NDP now has the UCP within striking distance, a mere 7 points behind, compared to the 17 points they were behind in January.
There’s something else interesting about the results. According to Peter McCaffrey, the president of Alberta Institute (a libertarian think tank), WIP is making huge gains outside of Calgary and Edmonton with this poll.
Mainstreet has NDP in third place outside of the two largest cities, and the WIP at an impressive 23.1%. Meanwhile, the UCP are pretty much unchanged from their overall numbers, at just under 32%.
If these numbers appear in subsequent polls, this can be huge, as a poll commissioned by the CBC in April found that the NDP had 32% support among rural voters, just 6 points behind the UCP. They’re still around that with the UCP, but now the UCP are 6 points lower and the WIP has jumped up over 10 points.
The accepted logic among Alberta political politics is that to win government in Alberta, you need to win 2 of the following 3 areas: Calgary, Edmonton, and everywhere else.
If WIP can steal votes from UCP outside the two largest centres, the incumbent party will have difficulty winning government, as there’s no way they’re going to win Edmonton and Calgary. They have only 1 seat in Edmonton now, and that was won with less than 45% of the vote.
Which leaves the UCP with just Calgary. And if that’s all they can get, it won’t be enough. But even then, as of this past January, the NDP were leading in Calgary with 70% of the vote. And according to The Western Standard, this poll has the NDP leading in Calgary with 36.6%, 4 points ahead of the UCP.
If the NDP take Calgary and Edmonton and form government and the WIP takes most of the rest of Alberta, UCP could be obliterated in the next election.
All that being said, the UCP are still at the same level they were in January. Despite all their scandals and the negative press they’ve received, their support dropped below where it was in only one other poll since January, and that was only 1 percentage point. In fact, they were as high as 37% and 28% in some other polls, trailing the NDP by only 3 points in one of them.
Plus, the next election is also 2 years away still. A lot could happen.
The pandemic could be largely over, which would see sudden spikes in activity among several economic indicators, including GDP and employment. The UCP could capitalize on it and convince people that their campaign promise of jobs and economy are being filled, even though it would be technically a sign of Alberta just getting back to where they were in 2019.
And if the TMX pipeline is completed by then, UCP premier Jason Kenney would probably take credit for that, rounding out the third pillar of his campaign platform, despite the UCP literally had nothing to do with the construction of it.
There’s one final thing to keep in mind about this poll.
Mainstreet is the only research firm to have the Wildrose party in the double digits for support. Both times the party has been at 10% or higher, Mainstreet was the polling firm was the company conducting the survey. As well, both times, the survey was commissioned by the Western Standard.
The Western Standard is 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. Fildebrandt’s Freedom Conservative Party merged with WEXIT Alberta last year to form the Wildrose Independence Party.
As well, this is the NDP’s lowest showing since August. Amongst the other polls released this year, the NDP averaged 45.4% support, so this an unusual placement for them.
I’d wait to see what other polls say before putting too much stock in these numbers.
Mainstreet conducted their poll between 19 and 20 May 2020 and has a margin of error of ±3% 19 times out of 20.