A new Angus Reid survey has found the opposition NDP under Rachel Notley now leads Jason Kenney’s UCP “by the slightest of margins in vote intention.”
The findings, published Friday, show 41 per cent of those surveyed intend to support the NDP, while 38 per cent plan to vote UCP.
“What we’re seeing is a general malaise, dissatisfaction, unhappiness with the UCP and Premier Jason Kenney at the midway part of his term,” said Shachi Kurl, the president of the Angus Reid Institute.
“They’re not happy with the job they see their government doing and the job they see their premier doing.”
Political scientist Duane Bratt said the shift in support is meaningful but not cause for NDP celebration just yet.
“The 2019 election there was a 20-point gap; now that gap has been getting smaller since the election, but this is the first time they’ve flipped,” the Mount Royal University professor said.
“When you break it down to a seat calculation, the UCP still wins,” he added. “As long as the UCP wins 30 to 35 seats in rural Alberta, they’ll win enough seats in Calgary to put them through with one caveat, and that caveat is the Wildrose Independence Party.”
The online survey was conducted between Feb. 26 and March 3 and included responses from 536 Albertans for the vote intention section and 603 Albertans for the tax section.
The next provincial election is scheduled for May 2023.
The NDP announced Friday it would start accepting applications this week from candidates seeking a nomination to run in the 2023 provincial election.
The survey found 10 per cent of respondents planned to support the Alberta Party and 11 per cent chose “other.”
“What we’re starting to see is right-of-centre voters, who can’t bring themselves to look at the NDP as an alternative, starting to cast around and looking for other parties and other alternatives because they just don’t like what they’re seeing,” Kurl said.
“If you see a third party starting to pick up some momentum, that could mean not great news for the Alberta conservatives.”
In terms of voter retention, the survey found 71 per cent of those who supported the UCP in 2019 say they would again at this halfway point, while the NDP has retained 96 per cent of its base.
Angus Reid said Albertans have become more critical of the premier throughout the pandemic, and their assessment of his performance appears to extend to most areas of the provincial government.
The survey found there is no issue where the UCP receives a more positive than negative assessment. They include environment/climate change, health care, COVID-19 response, education, First Nations issues, energy/oil and gas, the economy, seniors’ care, jobs/unemployment, housing affordability, drug use/addiction, deficit/government spending, poverty/homelessness.
“There’s not a single issue where the UCP is above water, where they’re above 50 per cent,” Bratt said.
“Every item in there is bad. So the question is: why isn’t the NDP ahead more?”
Asked for their top issues facing the province, Albertans chose both the economy overall and jobs and unemployment ahead of all others, the survey found. COVID-19 response ranks fifth.
The Angus Reid Institute also looked at the issue of a provincial sales tax and how Alberta voters feel about it.
Currently, Alberta is facing an $18.2-billion deficit and remains the only province in Canada without a provincial or harmonized sales tax.
Kenney has repeatedly said a PST would not be implemented without a referendum.
The survey found that while most Albertans (62 per cent) still don’t want a PST, 64 per cent of NDP supporters would also support some version of a sales tax.
Angus Reid found 38 per cent of Albertans surveyed said they would support a tax at various levels, from one per cent to more than five.
The online survey also found younger Albertans are more likely to support a PST. Half (52 per cent) of those between 18 and 34 support a PST of at least one to two per cent.
However, 63 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 oppose it; and 76 per cent of those 55 and older oppose a PST.
“There’s still widespread opposition, but when you break it down by age, that becomes very interesting,” Bratt said. “That is significant.
“NDP supporters are much more in favour of a sales tax, but the NDP party is not.”
The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey from February 26 – March 3, 2021, among a representative randomized sample of 5,004 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 1.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The total sample for Alberta is 603; a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.