Regardless of who wins the race to become leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) later this month, the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) says that man “will find himself on a relatively promising path to the premier’s office,” based on the latest results of a quarterly poll.
The ARI survey gathered opinions on the frontrunners in the UCP leadership race – Brian Jean and Jason Kenney – as well as thoughts on the party as a whole and on the governing New Democrats (NDP).
The poll, released Wednesday, found that 70 per cent of respondents “agree” they see Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s “government is out of touch with what Albertans really want” and that both Kenney and Jean are viewed more favourably than Notley.
Forty-nine per cent of respondents approved of Jean and 38 per cent approved of Kenney, compared to 29 per cent approving of Notley.
“They match what you would think in your gut,” Duane Bratt, a political analyst at Mount Royal University, said of Wednesday’s polling numbers. “There is clear unhappiness and unease with the Notley government in how they have governed, particularly on financial issues and the issues around the debt and bringing in the carbon tax and the lack -so far – of pipelines being built.
“This leads naturally to support for the primary opponent, which would be the UCP.”
Watch below: On Aug. 1, 2017, Lisa MacGregor filed this report after a new poll suggested Alberta’s United Conservative Party would form a majority government if an election were held that day.
The trajectory of Notley’s approval rating, based on quarterly polls conducted by the ARI, has generally been downward since June 2015.
“While hardly the worst approval rating among sitting premiers, Notley’s approval numbers – and their trajectory since she took office – are likely not encouraging to New Democratic Party strategists in the province,” the ARI said in a news release.
When asked if they would prefer to see Jean or Kenney leading the UCP into the next provincial election, 33 per cent of respondents said Jean, 22 per cent said Kenney, 22 per cent said neither and 23 per cent said they didn’t have a preference.
The ARI poll also found support for Jean and Kenney increases the older voters are. Of respondents in the 18-34 age range, Jean enjoyed 39 per cent support and Kenney had 33 per cent support, in the 35-54 demographic, Jean saw 48 per cent support while Kenney saw 38 per cent support and among respondents 55 and older, support for Jean rose to 60 per cent while Kenney enjoyed 45 per cent support.
But while the ARI poll painted a rosy picture of how respondents perceive the UCP two years ahead of its first election campaign, the survey did highlight ongoing concerns about where the party stands on the political spectrum.
Forty-seven per cent of respondents expressed concern that the UCP will be too right-wing.
“There’s also some unease that people have about the UCP about whether they may be too far right,” Bratt said. “This is a snapshot in time… if an election was held today, the UCP wins but the people still have their doubts about them.
“It’s interesting that when Brian Jean ran the Wildrose Party, he was dismissed as too far right,” Bratt added. “But in comparison to Jason Kenney, he looks pretty moderate. In fact, he has tried to play that in his leadership race and so I think there’s a lot more concern and unease around Jason Kenney than there is about Brian Jean.”
Sixty-three per cent of respondents said “the PC-Wildrose merger will be a good thing for Alberta, overall.” However, 57 per cent of respondents also agreed with the statement “Conservatives in Alberta think they’re entitled to govern.”
-With files from 630 CHED’s Scott Johnston.
You can view the complete survey results below:
Methodology: The Angus Reid Institute analyzed the results of an online survey conducted from Sept. 5 – 19, 2017, among a representative randomized sample of 606 Alberta residents who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The survey data were donated by MARU/Matchbox. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. Detailed tables are found at the end of this release.