Many questions have yet to be answered but Alberta’s new conservative party would form a majority government if an election were held today, according to a recent poll.
It was only last week that the United Conservative Party (UCP) was recognized as the official opposition in Alberta and now, the results of a Mainstreet/Postmedia survey indicate the union between Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose Party members could prove to be worth the political gamble.
On Tuesday, Mainstreet/Postmedia published the results of a survey that gathered responses from 2,100 Albertans between July 27 and July 28, 2017. It found that if an election were held today, the UCP would unseat Rachel Notley’s government in spectacular fashion. The poll found 57 per cent of decided or leaning respondents said they would vote for the UCP compared to just 29 per cent for the New Democrats. Nine per cent said they would vote for the Alberta Party and four per cent said they would vote for the Alberta Liberals.
“It appears to be a summer of love for the newly minted United Conservative Party (UCP) in Alberta,” Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Research, said in a news release on Tuesday.
“Just over a week ago, both the Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party membership voted overwhelmingly to ratify the unification deal struck by the parties and that appears to be paying immediate dividends.”
Watch below: On July 22, 2017, Tom Vernon filed this report after the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative party members voted overwhelmingly to merge the two parties to create the United Conservative Party.
However, the survey results suggest UCP support is fragmented: the party may be enjoying an 18 point lead among decided or leaning respondents over the NDP in Calgary while in Edmonton it actually trails the New Democrats by eight points. In the rest of Alberta, 68 per cent of decided or leaning respondents said they would vote for the UCP compared to just 20 per cent for the NDP.
“Of course, there is no election yet – and more importantly, the UCP still needs a permanent leader,” Maggi added. “One side-effect of the merger vote appears to be a spike in the number of undecided voters.”
According to Mainstreet, 27 per cent of voters said they were undecided, up significantly from 15 per cent in April.
Global News reached out to the NDP for its reaction to the poll. While the party initially declined comment, Alberta’s agriculture and forestry minister shared his thoughts during an event in Edmonton Tuesday morning.
“The election is not being held today so I’m not going to worry too much about that, what the future might hold,” O’Neil Carlier said.
“We are going to continue to do the work we’re doing and it’s work that’s going to benefit all Albertans… The future will be what the future is.”
Late Tuesday afternoon, Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman told Global News she expects many polls will be conducted between now and the next provincial election but that “it’s really election day that matters the most.
“If we wanted to predict future outcomes of elections based on moments of time in polls, we’d certainly be predicting to have Premier Danielle Smith in her second term.”
Ahead of the 2012 election, several polls suggested Smith – who was the Wildrose Party leader at the time – was poised to lead her party to an electoral victory. However, her party lost to the Progressive Conservatives after it wasn’t able to win over urban voters.
The UCP, the brainchild of PC party leader and former federal Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney, formed late last month when over 95 per cent of PC and Wildrose members vote to ratify a unity agreement.
To date, three men have come forward to say they will pursue the leadership of the new party: Kenney, Brian Jean – who had been leader of the Wildrose party- and conservative strategist Doug Schweitzer.
Watch below: On July 29, 2017, UCP leadership hopeful Jason Kenney said the United Conservative Party is growing strong despite a few dozen members leaving the new party.
The party’s interim leader, Nathan Cooper, has been scrutinized since assuming the position after a report emerged that he used to work for a right-wing organization committed to the “prevention of homosexuality.” Since the controversy erupted, Cooper has said his opinions on LGBTQ issues have changed over time and that he now fully supports the gay community and that the UCP will as well.
A permanent leader will be selected on Oct. 28.
“Now we enter the leadership contest between the frontrunners Jason Kenney… and Brian Jean of the Wildrose,” Maggi said. “If we learned anything from the recent PC leadership contest, it is the divisive and combative nature of such contests can take a toll on a political brand.”
Watch below: On July 25, 2017, United Conservative Party leadership candidate Brain Jean announced his economic platform in Calgary. David Boushy filed this report.
As of July 25, Elections Alberta had said the UCP had yet to register as an official party, however, the chief electoral officer said he expected the registration papers would be submitted shortly and be processed within about a day.
SURVEY METHODOLOGY: Mainstreet surveyed a random stratified sample of 2,100 Albertans from July 27-28, 2017 through Chimera IVR. Landline and Cell lines were included.
Responses were weighted using demographic information to targets based on the 2016 Census. The margin of error for survey results is ± 2.14 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For Edmonton specific results, the margin of error is ± 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For Calgary specific results, the margin of error is ± 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. For Rest of Alberta specific results, the margin of error is ± 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Results may not add up to 100 due to rounding.