Analysing the Poll Results

It light of recent polls one would easily believe that Alberta’s Wildrose party is poised to form the next provincial government.  Rising in popularity between elections often happens to opposition parties, and the numbers don’t necessarily stay static come voting day. 

Keeping in mind that polls in general are at best untrustworthy, analysis of the results raises certain questions.  Are Albertans finally cutting through the scare narratives and learning Wildrose policies?  Did the policy shift the party undertook at last year’s AGM – dropping some contentious ideas and adopting a more centrist direction – allay the trumped-up fear some voters had? 

Or are they the only valid alternative to the current incarnation of the Progressive Conservatives, who have grown so arrogant and out of touch with Albertans that Premier Alison Redford has seen her personal popularity fall even lower than that of her party?
Personal approval

Are voters buying what the Wildrose is selling, or is this a case of the electorate seeing the party as ‘potentially less harmful’ than the current gang of idiots?

I have intentionally engaged hundreds of Albertans since last October’s Wildrose AGM in order to gauge the opinions on the street, and a few things are very apparent.

Far-left progressives continue to invoke the ghosts of Hunsperger and Leech, still flogging the gift horses the Wildrose gave them during the last election campaign.  These folks would probably never vote for the party no matter who was running, but they do continue to perpetuate these narratives.

Then there are the people who are located on the far-right (those evil ‘social conservatives’ in Prog-speak).  They see the policy moves at the AGM as another setback, with some going so far as to label the Wildrose party ‘progressive’ on issues such as the environment.

This group hasn’t been happy since ‘their guy’ lost the party leadership race years ago, and because of this and the AGM, many of this group (including some party members) have left.  More is the pity, as all ideas should and must be welcomed by the party.

But the party still gets mislabelled by some as far-right.

Feedback suggests one thing for certain, that party leader Danielle Smith is an asset.  Most see her now as the anti-Redford.  Attacks of a personal nature on Smith almost always fail simply because she is not seen as arrogant or unpleasant.  I have chatted with Danielle several times both on and off the record, and my opinion mirrors that.  She is a rarity in politics because she is genuine in her words and actions.

No, it is not the leader nor policy that is the weak spot of the Wildrose party.  It is those who surround the leader.  The advisers whispering in Smith’s ear should be the focus of some attention.  Any party leader must choose carefully who to surround herself with – a lesson many party faithful hope Smith learned from the ill-conceived idea of having Tom Flanagan run the 2012 election campaign. 

The heat of the public relations battle is going to continually rise between now and the next election.  Alison Redford’s PC’s have their own self-created P.R messes to deal with.  The Wildrose must now show they have matured into not just a viable alternative, but a worthy government in waiting in their own right.  They must work harder and more effectively to present a clear alternative to the current party in power if they wish to turn poll numbers into votes.


greg douglas said...

Interesting analysis. So.... As far as those, "whispering to Danielle are concerned," does Marciano stay or move on? He's been around long enough to be linked to the concerning policies of the past. Is he an asset or a liability?

I got to meet him and hang around him a bit during his CPC days. He was point man anytime the PM came to Alberta.... Very interesting, very likable, but is he a political asset or liability?

Leigh Patrick Sullivan said...

Note: nowhere in the article was a specific person mentioned or named. I would assume there are more than one advisers to the party leader.

His Name Was Steven