Sunday, April 30, 2017
Albert'a Political Uncertainty Continues
First a disclaimer. I don't think we can rely on "opinion" polls done through the Internet as being representative because they are not random and often "weighted" by taking a small response segment and over-valuing it in an attempt to be more reflective on the population distribution.
The result is not the best possible version of the "truth" but more likely a rather blatant misrepresentation of opinion. The Mainstreet Research poll I am about to reference suffers from these shortcomings and even used the much discredited 2011 "Census" results as the basis for demographic weighting. That said, what else did they have to "weigh" the demographics in their survey responses? Garbage in - Garbage out!
They used their proprietary Chimera IVR process to get responses. I still can't get the smile off my face. IRONY ALERT! The Chimera origins are from an "imagery incongruous monster" from Greek mythology said to be a "fire-breathing she-monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail." Even the dictionary definition made me smile when applied to the reliability of such survey results; "a thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve." Just like the reliability of the methodology of this "opinion" poll.
That said, presuming we can't rely on the findings there are some things of interest to be gleaned from these results. Mostly what we seem to be able to say is that the political culture in Alberta is in an existential flux, especially regionally.
Edmonton is strongly NDP at 45%. The Edmonton"progressives" seem to have left the Progressive Conservative party in and gone NDP or undecided at 16%. They have not moved to the Alberta Party or Liberal centrist options. The conservative core in Edmonton at 21% has not seen a Jason Kenney leadership bump and actually dropped 1%. The Wildrose base in Edmonton is static at 26% but in second place, which has to worry the big dark money behind the Kenney PC leadership.
Calgary Conservatives have seen themselves as the breeding ground for Premiers for sure in the PC dynasty. It is not surprising that the core PC conservatives are big-time Calgary-based Kenney supporters at 38%. What is more surprising is that NDP is number 2 at 26% and the WRP is 22%, worse than they do in Edmonton. The Alberta Party and Liberals have their largest support levels in Calgary too at 7% each. Note both party leaders come from Calgary.
The 'Rest of Alberta" a.k.a. "rural Alberta" is not in any existential flux. They are solidly conservative with a 75% combined Kenney(27%)/Jean 48% support. It would be interesting to see if there is an urban-rural split in places like Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer and Fort McMurray.
The aggregate Alberta numbers are pretty misleading as a result of these regional influences and the reality that all politics are local. They may also be misleading due to the "weighing" of results to try and reflect demographics. For example, the 65+ age group is only 11% of Alberta's population but makeup 14% in the sample size.
The survey has 33.5% participants in the 18-34 age group but Alberta has about 24% in the same grouping so they get significantly over-represented. Note that 41% of 18-34 survey segment supported Brian Jean's WRP, 17% for Kenney Conservatives and 18% for Notley's NDP. Likely another misleading result as a result. Another misleading concern is the survey asks how you would vote for today, on a decided and leaning basis but has the Liberal option with David Swann as its leader. He isn't the leader. They are in a leadership contest now.
The other interesting aspect is the Undecideds. The largest segment is in Edmonton at 16% and the least is Calgary at 13%. On the preference on who should be leading a merged PC and WRP it is overall uncertain. First, the question is misleading because the parties can't merge legally.
The regional differences come into play. Calgary is split equally between Kenney and Jean at 27%. Edmonton and the Rest of Alberta favour Jean. In Edmonton "Someone Else" beats both men at 26% and Unsure is at 32%. Overall it is a 53% share for Kenney and Jean but 47% split between None of the Above or Unsure. Not a strong indication of interest in the future of the conservative political culture in Alberta, regardless of regions.
So while we can't rely on the science-based reliability of the results I think we can surmise that Alberta is not yet made up its mind nor set the direction of its political future. It is not a clear choice between Left or Right.
The Next Alberta is more likely to be a centrist progressive government if the results of a 2009 real survey of political values based on the 2006 Long From reliable Census trend into the 2017 population. That research found 63% of Albertans identified strongly with progressive values. Fixing the vacuum of political options in the progressive political center in Alberta is where the potential is for real change in our political culture.
So far it is still an open question about who, if anyone, will fill that vacuum... effectively.