There seems to be quite a bit of disagreement about how much in danger the Conservatives are in Alberta. The main article is from the Edmonton Sun.
The Saskatoon Star Phoenix is a bit more pessimistic concerning Stelmach's chances.
""Some party insiders are bracing for a wipeout of Conservatives in the capital, a drop of four seats in Calgary and more losses around urban fringes. If a few unexpected seats add to the collapse, the longshot spectre of Alberta's first-ever minority government hangs over the campaign.
The perception problem is that former farmer Stelmach is seen as a poor fit with an increasingly cosmopolitan province hit by an urban population surge of ethnic and political diversity.
His recent speeches to Calgary and Edmonton business leaders were flat and poorly received. And if a pledge to eliminate health insurance premiums within four years is the best dare he could dream up for an election-triggering throne speech, well, it's open opposition season on charges the Stelmach government lacks a vision to cope with the economic explosion."
Yet the polls show that Stelmach is leading by a good margin in Calgary and doing well in Edmonton as well. The National Post post also is gloomy about Stelmach's performance in urban areas:
" But Conservative seat projections solicited from civic, provincial and federal observers, who have far closer contact to the ground than me, vary between a low of 40 seats and, at most, 55 seats.
For a government with 60 of the 83 seats now, that's not the sort of bubbling optimism that's supposed to springboard a government into a fresh bid for a new and stronger mandate.
Some party insiders are bracing for a wipeout of Conservatives in the capital, a drop of four seats in Calgary and more losses around urban fringes. If a few unexpected seats add to the collapse, the long-shot spectre of Alberta's first-ever minority government hangs over the campaign."
Perhaps all this shows is that Stelmach was not the choice of the urban Conservative elites but that the Conservative grass roots don't give two hoots about that! The Conservative popular vote is considerably above even that of the last election and they are doing well in the main cities! It is true of course that things can change during the campaign. However if the media starts a campaign to suggest that Stelmach is losing ground that may just cause a counter reaction that could help Stelmach do much better than he might otherwise.
February 9, 2008
Stelmach heading for strong win: poll
By BILL KAUFMANN, SUN MEDIA
CALGARY -- Alberta's governing Tories are on track to another strong majority, suggests a recent poll.
The Environics survey of 1,000 people conducted just before the electoral writ was dropped shows the Conservatives with 52% of the decided vote, compared to the Liberals' 25% and 10% for the NDP.
The Green Party follows at 7% with the newly formed Wildrose Alliance managing 6%, and a further 19% are undecided.
While Conservative support in Calgary is strong, at 48% versus the Grits' 29%, it's in Edmonton where the Tories have seen significant gains - going from 34% in the 2004 vote to 49% today.
The PCs' Calgary campaign chief, Bill Smith, said he's noticed a swing in the city back towards his party in recent weeks.
"People are getting more comfortable with Ed Stelmach, they're more willing to give him an opportunity," said Smith.
Liberal leader Kevin Taft wouldn't comment on the survey, saying "there's only one poll that counts and it's on March 3."
Grit spokesman Larry Johnsrude said the poll results are no surprise given the flurry of ad spending by the Tories in the days leading up to the campaign. "Obviously, that's going to skew things," he said.
Because the poll was done before the campaign was underway, the results shouldn't be taken too seriously, said University of Calgary political scientist Doreen Barrie.
"I don't know if any of this will hold - after the leaders' debate the numbers could change because Ed Stelmach is not very good on his feet and Kevin Taft is a real policy wonk," she said, adding a major blunder could upend the figures.
"The Tories shouldn't rest on their laurels."
Even so, it's clear years of opposition attempts to gain traction with the public haven't succeeded, said Barrie, while a cooling but still strong economy is playing in the Tories' favour.
In 2004, the Tories captured 62 of 83 seats with 46.8% of the popular vote, compared to 29% for the Liberals.
The poll's high undecided vote means much in the election remains up in the air, said NDP leader Brian Mason.
"The campaign will make a difference and the Tory popular vote in the election is always lower than these polls," said Mason.
Tory supporters are the ones most loyal to their party and least likely to switch their votes, states the poll.
It's accurate within 3.1% points 95 times out of 100.