Polls can sometimes be strange and unpredictable snapshots, but this one is fascinating:
Alberta-wideInitial thoughts: A public approval poll in June revealed that Albertans were disgruntled and cranky with their current political leadership and the results of this poll appears to confirm that.
Progressive Conservative: 38.4%
Wildrose Alliance: 21.5%
Progressive Conservative: 34.5%
Wildrose Alliance: 13.1%
Progressive Conservative: 38.2%
Wildrose Alliance: 27%
This is obvious good news for the Wildrose Alliance because it means that many Albertans are aware enough of their existence to support them when questioned by a telephone surveyor (even if they're not sure what that party stands for). Their leadership vote is on October 17, and this poll paired with the recent by-election of Paul Hinman in Calgary-Glenmore strengthens the appearance that they are the only party with a semblance of momentum. The challenge will be to keep Albertans interested as they learn more about the right-wing party. In my opinion, Danielle Smith is the only candidate in their leadership contest with the potential to drive the momentum further.
The poll results show negative momentum for the traditional political parties in the two largest urban centers (I haven't seen the rural results). With Official Opposition leader David Swann hailing from Calgary, the Liberals should be concerned by their 13% drop in the city that was their only growth area in the last election (the Liberals increased their Calgary seat total to five MLAs with the election of Kent Hehr and Darshan Kang). While they remain in a province-wide distant third place, the poll results suggest that the NDP are have largely held on to their base of support in Edmonton and very moderately increased their already extremely small base of support in Calgary.
With a leadership review fast approaching, this poll is bad news for Premier Ed Stelmach. The PC party brass may attempt to spin the results as a case for party members to rally to protect their party's brand, but for the non-partisan majority, there is a large question of what the long-governing PCs even still stand for. With their lowest poll results in recent memory, it is clear that many Albertans are questioning the leadership and the confused direction that the the near 40-year ruling party is taking our province.
UPDATE: Here is a link to the PDF of the poll results.