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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Parsing a "Poll" in Alberta' s Leadership Politics

So Angus Reid did a poll on Alberta political leadership issues that they released on March 17/14.  It was a on-line poll done March 3-9 using 698 of the Angus Reid Forum panelists. Those are people who like to answer polls and signed up to be on the Angus Reid roster for such polls.

I am always suspicious that these self-selecting Forum volunteers  are more politically active and engaged and not so random.  The methodology likely make extrapolations of under represented groups based on the results of small numbers of participants in various segments.

Say 30% of the Alberta population is male over 55. I don't know if that is true but humour me.  If the on line pool only had 10% of respondents in that group I wonder if the pollster takes the answers of the 10% and triples their weight to reach the real demographic mix.  If so it it almost guaranteed to be wrong. A chronic reality for political polling for a few years now...increasingly wrong.

That said, I don't trust theses polls for that and other reasons.  For example Angus Reid said 46% of decided voters in Alberta would choose Wildrose if an election was called the next day.  Well the election is two years away so why is that relevant never mind reliable as a serious question.

Second I wonder how they voted last time and if they are shifting their votes and why!  I expect a lot of former/current PC supporters, inside and outside the party, wanted to send Premier Redford a message by "choosing" Wildrose.  If that was the case it worked.  Redford resigned shortly afterwards.

Third is, presuming the poll has some veracity, there is a real social schism on age and gender lines in Alberta when it comes to politics.  The Wildrose support is predominantly male and older.  50% of males in the survey supported WRP and 41% of the females.  the older you were the more you supported the WRP. The PCs support was small, half that of WRP but evenly spread over genders and generations. Liberal and NDP support is greatest in youth and still behind the WRP.

Here is where gender and generational divides gets somewhat interesting.  Health Care is #1 (21%), Leadership & Economy tied for #2 as most important issues (17%) and Environment is next with 9% picking it as most important.   Old people art into health (go figure!) and leadership.  Only 6% of youth said Leadership is most important issue in Alberta today but they were the largest group to say the Economy is their issue followed by the Environment.  The Environment was top issue for only 6% of men 35-54 and only 4% of the 55+ makes gave it a concern.

More women were concerned about Health Care than men and more men were concerned about Leadership and the Economy than women.

Since Redford has left the stage, here is a bit of thought on useless polling information, namely who would make the best Premier,  WRP Smith was at 32% the Libs and Dipper leaders 8% each and Redford at a mere 11% support.  What is interesting i sthe Undecideds and None of the Above answers at 42%, mostly (28%) not sure.  That means 4 out of 10 Albertans are rejecting or reserving opinion who of the currnet crowd would be the best leader.  46% of females feel this way and half of the 18-34 demographic dont know or don't care about the qualities of current political leaders.

On the dealing with the Economy 47% of women and 41% of youth say none of the current leaders cut it. Concerning the Environment 51% of women and 46% of youth reject the current crop of political leadership. Heath Care as a concern sees 42% of women and 35% of youth lacking confidence in current regimes.

Who ever gets Alberta's women and youth on their side and manages to get them to actually vote will dominate the next election outcomes.  Mayors Nenchi and Iveson have done it in Calgary and Edmonton.  So it can be done.  The WRP is toast if this happens and the PCs are a wild card now with no leader to evaluate.

I think the next two elections are up for grabs by any party who wins the hearts and minds of women and youth - if the Angus Reid poll is right.  That is still an open question for me.