Let me start by saying I don’t believe the polls.
We’re hours away from an Alberta provincial election and throughout the entire campaign, the release of polling data has been a daily sport. From the beginning, all of the polls have been pointing to a majority or minority win by the upstart and unproven Wildrose Party.
With all due respect to my market research friends who do good, solid work, I struggle to wrap my brain around the poll results. I don’t think this struggle comes out of denial or a desire to see a different result, but simply because it goes against everything I know.
What good is an election campaign without crystal ball predictions? Whether I am right or wrong, putting a stake in the ground is all a part of election day fun (I didn’t lie when I said I was a card-carrying political geek).
I believe Alberta will see a slim majority (46-48 seats) win by the Progressive Conservatives. The PCs will lose nearly 20 seats to the Wildrose, as they currently hold 66 seats. But their 4-decade rein of power will not come to an end. Why?
- History shows voters change their government when the economy is bad. When people’s wallets and pocketbooks are hurting, and when they fear for their job, they vote for change. When the economy is good, voters and governments generally stay the course. Let’s face it, despite a few bumps in the road, Alberta’s economy has been and is pretty good. If history holds true, so should the PCs as voters won’t be compelled to shake things up.
- There is a lot of talk about the “desire for change”. But as I go about my days listening to and talking with average Albertans, I don’t hear a lot of talk about the need for change. I believe Albertans want their government to govern better, no question, but I don’t think there is a raging desire to dump one government in favour of another. What I think we are hearing are the political parties talking about a desire for change, and that is more about a self fulfilling prophecy than reflecting the views of voters.
- The polls all say that Calgary has gone wild for Wildrose, with the polls showing Wildrose poised to win most of the seats in that city. Now, it’s been some time since I lived in Calgary, but here’s what I know about Cowtown. It is notoriously liberal minded. Every mayor since Ralph Klein has been a card-carrying Liberal. Five out of the current eight Liberal MLAs were elected in Calgary in 2008. I struggle to believe the city has jumped to the other side of the political fence. While Calgary is home to many powerful energy companies and many rich people; many of whom are the influential powerbrokers of the Wildrose Party, I believe the average Calgarian is inherently liberal-minded and will struggle with Wildrose’s socially conservative policies and views.
- This election will see more strategic voting than any other election in my lifetime. There are many Albertans talking about holding their nose and voting not for the candidate they like best, but voting for the candidate that can best keep another party out of office. Liberal and NDP supporters are talking about voting for the evil they know (PCs), rather than the evil they don’t (Wildrose).
- Over the last week, a cloud has shrouded the Wildrose Party and their leader, Danielle Smith. The cloud is thick with intolerant and racist remarks made by various Wildrose party candidates, that Smith defended under the guise of religious freedom. Earlier in the campaign the debate centered Wildrose’s stance on abortion and conscience rights, that being the rights of healthcare and other workers to deny care or service based on their conscience. If there is anything I know to be true it is this: Canada and Alberta are home to inherently tolerant, moderate and inclusive people. The comments and policies of the Wildrose Party, and the lack of moral leadership by Ms. Smith in addressing the outrage, have dominated the final days of the campaign. Now is when average voters decide how they are going to mark their ballot. Cloaked in the issues of racism, intolerance, abortion and religious freedom, I do not believe the Wildrose can unseat the PC government and win the election in this province.
You can enter your election day prediction on a great political blog published by Dave Cournoyer, daveberta.ca, and be entered to win some politically geeky prizes. Or share what you see in your crystal ball in the comments below. Join us political nerds and have a little election fun.