Alberta NDP leading in support from voters with 39 per cent compared to 29 per cent for UCP: poll

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Lifting COVID-19 restrictions was not enough to give the UCP government much of a bump in voter support as the NDP has kept a significant lead across Alberta, a new poll suggests.

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An online Leger poll of 1,377 Albertans conducted July 22-26 for Postmedia found 39 per cent threw their support behind Rachel Notley’s NDP while 29 per cent support Jason Kenney and the UCP if an election were held today. One in seven Albertans said they were undecided.

More than half (54 per cent) of Albertans said they feel the province is headed in the wrong direction, the poll indicates, with only 25 per cent responding that the province is heading in the right direction.

The NDP is leading with voters across the province. The widest gap, unsurprisingly, is the party stronghold of Edmonton at 45 per cent support versus 28 per cent for the UCP.

One of the things that’s different this time around is that Notley is a former premier sitting as leader of the Opposition, said Ian Large, Leger’s executive vice-president. Unlike in almost all previous cases where a party will replace its leader after losing an election, Notley is a known entity to Albertans, he said.

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“The devil-you-don’t-know persona can’t be applied to her because we know who she is,” he said in an interview.

The numbers represent a recent trend in the province with the two largest political parties sitting at an unchanged level of support for the last six to nine months, Large said. A March 2021 Leger poll found 40 per cent support for the NDP compared to 20 per cent for the UCP.

The latest poll was done after Alberta became the first Canadian province to drop almost all major pandemic restrictions at the beginning of July.

“(The polling results are) not unexpected. What I had expected was maybe a little more lift for the UCP with the faster reopening and Calgary Stampede and things getting back to normal,” Large said.

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It is common for political parties to see low voter support in the middle of their term, Large said, adding that heavy criticism of the government’s COVID-19 response has not helped.

Despite the trend in the polls, the minds of Albertans are far from made up. About half (51 per cent) of the Albertans who are considered decided voters said they may change their mind.

According to the poll, 57 per cent of decided NDP voters said that their choice is final while only 46 per cent of decided UCP voters said they won’t change their minds.

Large said those numbers suggest that while both parties have room to increase support, the NDP has more space to grow since it has more of a base locked in.

He said the openness of voters to change their minds is a change for Alberta, where conservative loyalty is historically strong.

“I think if I asked this question 10 years ago, at exactly this point, I would probably have gotten very few people saying that they’re likely to change their mind,” Large said. “This is an indication that there are two strongly viable parties that could form government.”

Online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population. If the data were collected through a random sample, the margin of error would be plus or minus three per cent, 19 times out of 20.

ajoannou@postmedia.com

twitter.com/ashleyjoannou

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