Saturday, November 20, 2004

Alberta Election

If it were any province other than Alberta, Ralph Klein would be heading for an ignominious defeat on Monday. Sky-high electricity and auto insurance rates plus increasingly eccentric personal behaviour would easily be enough to finish off a typical government. Add to that the fact that Klein is also pledging to make changes to health care although he won’t say what they will be (shades of Kim Campbell circa 1993). Such a defeat almost happened to Bernard Lord last year on the issue of auto insurance alone. But small ‘c’ conservative parties have ruled Alberta for the past 69 years, Social Credit from 1935 to 1971, the PC’s since then, so governmental change is not at issue here. Nevertheless, there have been real signs of dissatisfaction in Alberta.

Two polls out this week, nicely summarized on this post on Calgary Grit, tell us both that Klein stock has taken a nose-dive during the campaign, but that he still has enough votes to win.

The Reid poll, which has the PC’s at 44%, the Liberals at 29% and the NDP at 11%, was taken later than the Calgary Herald Poll, which has the PC’s ahead 47% to 21% for the Liberals and 12% for the NDP. The new Alberta Alliances is at 9% in both polls. These numbers tell me that the PC’s are likely to be all but shut out in Edmonton and the Liberals should get at least one seat in Calgary. The Alberta Alliance, the new conservative party that is rurally-based but running in every riding, is only at 9% in both polls, but they may pick up one or more constituencies in rural Alberta.

My forecast model is not that useful here because riding boundaries have changed since the last election and it takes no account of the Alberta Alliance. The model estimate based on the Reid poll is 61 PC's (down from 74 in 2001) 20 for the Liberals (up from 7) mostly in Edmonton and 2 for the NDP. However, I would not be surprised if the PC vote drifted slightly lower and the Alberta Alliance won a few seats in rural areas pushing the Klein Conservatives into the mid or even the low fifties.

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