April 3, 2019 2:11 pm
Updated: April 3, 2019 8:50 pm

Poll shows UCP with large lead over NDP midway through Alberta election campaign

WATCH: A recent poll conducted by Janet Brown Opinion Research suggests the UCP maintains a lead across the province ahead of the Alberta election.

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More than half of Alberta’s decided and leaning voters say they would cast ballots for the United Conservative Party (UCP) in the upcoming provincial election, according to a poll by Calgary-based Janet Brown Opinion Research.

Through the second week of the campaign, the UCP was the preferred choice of 53 per cent of poll respondents compared to 34 per cent supporting the Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP).

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The poll, released Wednesday morning, also placed the Alberta Party third in the race with eight per cent support, while the Alberta Liberal Party came in at fourth with four per cent.

Janet Brown, principal of Janet Brown Opinion Research, said she has been tracking polling data since the UCP was formed in July 2017 and that Wednesday’s poll is consistent with her previous research, which surprised her.

“I thought, in an election, that the numbers were going to start to tighten up,” Brown said in an interview Wednesday morning.

“I think what the poll shows is that the average Albertan may not really be paying much attention to this election yet, and those people who are paying attention haven’t heard anything that’s changed their mind yet.”

READ MORE: Alberta election promise tracker: Where do the parties stand on the major issues?

If the NDP is going to make up ground on the UCP, Calgary is a key battleground for the party to focus on, according to Brown. Her polling states that the NDP has an eight-point lead over the UCP in Edmonton but is behind by 21 points in Calgary.

“Rural Alberta is staunchly UCP, and there’s probably very little that the NDP can do to gain ground there so that makes Calgary critical,” Brown said.

“If the NDP can turn [Calgary] around, if they can win… as many seats as they won in the last election, then they’re getting closer to a position where the NDP could form government.”

The key races to watch in the city are the downtown Calgary ridings, according to Brown. She said one factor that will determine if the UCP holds its overall lead is its leader, Jason Kenney, who has a 44 per cent approval rating in Wednesday’s poll.

“[Jason Kenney] is less popular than his party, Rachel Notley is more popular than her party. I think the NDP realizes that their path to victory is getting people to doubt Jason Kenney as a leader,” Brown said.

“Jason Kenney has got to keep his calm; he can’t let all of this criticism rattle him.”

READ MORE: Alberta election panel discusses issues facing province’s jobs and economy

Respondents identified the economy, the energy industry and employment as the three most important issues in Wednesday’s poll. The questions were asked to 900 Alberta residents between March 25 and 30, with the poll carrying a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

If Brown’s polling numbers prove true on election night, she said the UCP could walk away with a “massive majority” government. However, she cautioned that the numbers could change before voters head to the polls on April 16.

“That’s the great thing about elections: when the voters really start to tune in, that’s when elections start to get interesting,” Brown said.

Survey questions were administered between March 25 and March 30, 2019 to a sample of 900 Albertans, ages 18 and over. The margin of error for this sample of 900 people is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Watch below: A new poll suggests the UCP has a large lead over the NDP midway through the Alberta election campaign. Tom Vernon reports.

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