Alberta NDP closing approval gap with UCP: Mainstreet poll

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks to media during a tour of Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline replacement project in Hardisty, Alta., on Thursday Aug.10, 2017. Notley kicks off a cross-country speaking tour on the importance of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on Monday in Toronto. CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s NDP is narrowing the gap in decided and leaning voters between the Jason Kenney-led United Conservative Party, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The poll was produced by Mainstreet Research and said that while the UCP still leads with 48.6 per cent of those polled, it is down 7.3 per cent compared to last January. The NDP appears to have made up for lost ground with 35.4 per cent, up 8.1 per cent, the poll said.

Mainstreet Research’s president and CEO Quito Maggi said in a news release Notley’s position on the Kinder Morgan pipeline dispute is why the party’s numbers have gone up.

“Our surveys show that Premier Notley is on the right side of public opinion with her position on Kinder Morgan,” he said. “She has narrowed the gap between herself and the UCP by taking the lead among 18-34s and in Edmonton, which is where the NDP need to do well if they are going to be re-elected in 2019.”

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Lori Williams, associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University, said the results are not surprising considering the ongoing Trans Mountain pipeline saga.

Notley has taken a strong stance in her fight to see the contentious pipeline built, despite multi-faceted opposition from B.C. Premier John Horgan as well as many other challengers of the project.

Notley’s determination has been a catalyst for federal action on the pipeline, has generated good press for the NDP government and boosted support for the pipeline across Canada, even in B.C., Williams said.

“Her political skills, her tenacity, she’s balanced… she’s not just saying other governments are doing things wrong, she’s saying: ‘I’m willing to partner with you,’” Williams said, adding that though Notley is open to different options, she’s determined the project will happen.

Williams said that while Kenney and Notley both agree the pipeline should go ahead, Notley is the one taking action that Albertans and Canadians as a whole an see. However, Williams said the volatility of the pipeline’s progress could hurt Notley when election time rolls around.

“I think we’re seeing… Rachel Notley’s political fortunes rise and fall with this pipeline,” she said. “I think it’s going to be much more difficult for her to win the next election if the pipeline isn’t built.

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“Nothing is impossible but it’s going to be much harder. Jason Kenney will have a big stick to wave.”

READ MORE: Alberta premier says B.C. pipeline court challenge ‘makes no sense’

In an interview with 630 CHED, Maggi called the change a “massive shift.”

“It’s too early to tell whether this is something just temporary because of what’s gone on and how strong the messaging around pipeline expansion support has been by the premier, but it’s… certainly the first movement we’ve seen in a very, very long time for the NDP.”

He added that Kenney may be suffering from overexposure from serving two stints as leader of an opposing party.

“Now we see for the first time in 18 months, Rachel Notley sort of taking a stronger presence on the national scene and local scene and I think Jason Kenney didn’t do himself any favours by the whole ‘Canada’s broken’ comments,” Maggi said.

“I’m not sure that was good messaging, but that could be temporary.”

Mainstreet Research, a popular Canadian polling company, recently came under fire for its methods and public reports during the Calgary municipal election.

Maggi has since apologized for what he called a “catastrophic polling failure.”

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The poll surveyed 1,071 Albertans between April 16th and April 18th. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.11% and is accurate 19 times out of 20.

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