Did Smith blow it with her airport stand?

Public opinion polls taken when an election is about 18 months away are more fun than informative.  As John Diefenbaker said, “Dogs know what best to do with polls.” And, just like dogs, it’s best to just sniff around for a minute, then do on to something more important.

But what they heck; let’s look at the most recent poll on political preferences, from the Citizen Society Research Lab at Lethbridge College. A telephone survey of 1,067 Alberta voters, held Oct. 2-3, found the PCs still out in front with 30 per cent of the vote, with Danielle Smith and the Wildrose Party (that should be their official name; without her, they’re like the Heartbreakers without Tom Petty) at 20 per cent, the Alberta Liberals at 17 per cent, and NDs at nine. A healthy 18 per cent was undecided. .

While the PCs and Danielle Smith are duking it out in Calgary, Edmonton is a much different story. Here, the PCs still lead with 33 per cent support of decided voters, with the Liberals second at 24, NDP at 20 and Wildrose at 16.

Whoa. The supposedly surging Wildrose at a puny 16 per cent in Edmonton? And behind the Few Democrats? Those are the kind of numbers that must give the supremely confident Smith pause.

I’ve been saying for a long time (mostly to myself) that the Wildrose is much more of a southern and rural Alberta party. Their MLAs are all from well outside Edmonton, and unless they’ve got somebody hiding out somewhere, they haven’t come up with any high profile (or even mid-high profile) Edmonton candidates.  As far as I can tell, they have two candidates  so far in Edmonton. Of course, there’s no election on the horizon (Stelmach again reiterated the March 2012 date earlier this week), so you might think that there was no rush. But when you’re a new party, with no presence in the community, you can’t have enough candidates too early.

Here’s another thought. The poll was taken Oct. 2-3, well after Smith stuck her nose in Edmonton’s business by signing the Envision Edmonton petition to keep the airport open. Could it be that Edmonton voters reacted negatively to Smith’s ill-advised grandstand play? Smith hasn’t done much wrong so far, but choosing a side in an entirely local issue may have cost her dearly.

But of course, the election is a long ways away. Voters will have forgotten Smith’s gaffe by the time March 2012 rolls around. But the Danielle Smith party, if it wants to make any inroads in Edmonton, should probably start paying attention to the capital they want so badly to take over.

3 thoughts on “Did Smith blow it with her airport stand?

  1. Wildrose may be at 16.3% in Edmonton, but comparing apples to apples means comparing against the last poll by the same polling outfit, and by that metric they are nicely up from 13.1%. Move up that much again in the next poll and it rounds off to 20%, which is very much in the game. That said “Edmontonian” is still Wildrose’s weakest demographic of all.

    The crosstabs on this poll indicate that Wildrose is not, in fact, a rural party. They are 24% across the province and in the rural south are at… 24%. They are strong in suburban Calgary, yes, at 29.4% across the city, but suburban and exurban Calgary is not the same thing as rural. The rural party is the PCs, as they are polling over 40% in both the rural north and the rural south, 5% better than their province-wide vote.

    The crosstabs also indicate that Wildrose support is relatively evenly distributed, except with a gender gap (less than 7 points back of the PCs with men, but a full 18 points back with women). Wildrose is running at just 15% with the under 30 crowd, but that’s almost a half again improvement over the previous poll and the PCs are also weak with the young.

    The top two groups that skew most heavily for the PCs? Frequent church-goers are #1 at 48.2% and those with an education of high school diploma or less are #2 at 45.6%. Wildrose support, in contrast, is more or less in-line with its provincial support across education levels and religious participation.

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