December 9, 2015 6:48 pm
Updated: December 9, 2015 7:09 pm

Notley approval rating still high, but dropping fast: national poll

Premier Rachel Notley speaks to the media at the Alberta Legislature Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015.

Global News
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EDMONTON – A recent national poll says Premier Rachel Notley is still one of Canada’s most popular leaders, but she’s losing ground fast with Albertans.

The poll, conducted by the Angus Reid Institute, ranks Canada’s provincial leaders by their approval rating. According to the survey, Notley currently has a 45 per cent approval rating. That result is good enough to seed Notley as the country’s third-most popular provincial leader.

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Despite the ranking, her approval rating has decreased dramatically over the past six months. In June 2015, Notley had a 53 per cent approval rating.

READ MORE: Albertans divided over provincial budget, but support job creation program, says poll

Since then, the percentage of Albertans supporting Notley has decreased by eight per cent. No other current premier has seen such a steep drop in public approval over that time.

One of the main reasons for the drop off in public support is the ending of the so-called “honeymoon period”: most politicians see high approval ratings right after being elected, then see them tail off over time.

“It’s always normal to see a leader who’s newly elected to see very high numbers after a mandate,” Shachi Kurl, senior vice president at the Angus Reid Institute, said.

“It’s not surprising to see a high ceiling, and it’s not surprising to see ratings change over time.”

Another reason for the drop may be Alberta’s economic difficulties. Since Notley’s election, oil and gas prices have plummeted, leaving thousands of Albertans out of work.

READ MORE: Most Albertans oppose Premier Rachel Notley’s climate change plan –  poll

In addition, recent government policies such as  Bill 6, have made the premier a polarizing figure. Another recent poll showed most Albertans were not in favour of the province’s climate change policy.

“These are things that have Albertans stopping, pausing, and surveying the moment,” Kurl said.

The Angus Reid Institute poll measures the public’s current approval of their leaders, not who the public would vote for in an election. “This metric isn’t measuring, ‘would you vote for this person?’ or ‘would you turf this person?’” Kurl said.

“It means, ‘are you happy with the job they’re doing today?’”

According to the poll, Canada’s most popular premier is Saskatchewan’s Brad Wall. Wall has a whopping 60 per cent approval rating, making him the only premier with an approval rating higher than 50 per cent.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is in second place, ranking just higher than Notley with 46 per cent approval.

READ MORE: Premiers back refugee plan, Trudeau says after first ministers’ meeting

By contrast, the premier with the lowest approval rating is Manitoba’s Greg Selinger, with a lowly 22 per cent rate. Kathleen Wynne of Ontario is second from the bottom with 30 per cent, while British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and New Brunswick’s Brian Gallant both sit at 34 per cent.

While polls like this one measure popular opinion, they are not definitive.

“People have a tendency to overvalue results of polls like these,” Kurl said.

“Leaders with low approval ratings can sometimes pull it out of the fire.”

This isn’t the first time a newly-elected Alberta premier has had high voter approval. After former premier Alison Redford was elected, she enjoyed approval ratings higher than 50 per cent. However, by the time she left office, Redford’s approval rating hovered around a dismal 20 per cent.

The Angus Reid Institute analyzed the results of an online survey of 6,301 Canadian adults in a randomized and representative sample of Angus Reid Forum panelists between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, 2015. The data was donated by Vision Critical. A probability sample of this size carries a margin of error of +/- 1.2%, 19 times out of 20.

The entire Angus Reid Institute poll can be found below.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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