Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ralph Klein's Alberta

The most politically pertinent fact about Alberta in the federal election is a Conservative one-party state, and oh, by the way, it is ruled by King Ralph. He was in the news again this week quoted as saying the Liberals would probably win a minority: "If I were a betting man, I would say there would be another minority," he said. "It's a damn shame.” Why will the Liberals win? It is because Harper while a "bright, articulate individual, perhaps he's seen as too much on the right".

The conventional wisdom about the latest pearl from Ralph is that once again he is helping out his nemesis Paul Martin. However, this particular comment could paradoxically help the Conservatives. How? If the Conservatives were too have any chance, and their prospects are indeed not too bright, they would have to come from behind, and equally important the NDP would have to do well, stealing votes from the dreaded Grits. Ralph’s comment effectively says I like Harper but he hasn’t got a chance to win, so you socialists are safe in voting NDP. The most likely impact of his comment is to help the NDP a little by helping to suppress the strategic voting that causes soft NDP votes to melt away to the Liberals.

The Conservatives at this point are likely to lose again, but there is enough unhappiness about the status quo – a recent Decima poll reports that it is desire for change that is the Liberals’ greatest weakness – that one can’t be sure. The real problem for the Conservatives is that they and their program are viewed positively by relatively few Canadians.

As for Alberta and the polls, there is not much to say. The Conservatives are down a bit here too, 4.1 points below their 2004 finish, but not by enough to matter. The Liberals post Gomery are also down just below their 2004 performance. The gains in Alberta seem to have gone to the NDP which is 5.5 points ahead of their 2004 pace. Based on these numbers my forecast model appears to give the NDP one constituency, Edmonton Strathcona (currently represented by Rahim Jaffer). I do not think they can actually win here but it illustrates how well the NDP is doing generally. The only change I expect to see is that the Conservatives should win David Kilgour’s riding (he is not running again) of Edmonton Beaumont. The Liberals were running nicely ahead of their 2004 pace in Alberta earlier in the fall but the Gomery report has moved Alberta back close to the 2004 election result.

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