Here are two contrasting articles about the Alberta election. The first is from the Globe and Mail. This article sees a Conservative victory as a sure thing and even suggests that the Conservatives could gain seats. It is noted that Stelmach ran an "awful campaign". However the media always claimed that he would and that he couldn't debate so if Stelmach pulled off a D plus campaign he probably exceeded public expectations!
Alberta Tories on cusp of 11th majority
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
February 29, 2008 at 11:52 PM EST
EDMONTON — The Alberta Progressive Conservatives are poised to win handily their 11th straight majority Monday despite a large number of voters who say the province is due for a new government, according to a new poll.
“There is some desire for change, some restlessness and angst, but the fact is that none of the opposition parties have been able to make the case that change is really required,” said Tim Woolstencroft, managing partner with The Strategic Counsel, which conducted the poll for The Globe and Mail and CTV.
The poll found that 50 per cent of Albertans surveyed intend to support the Progressive Conservatives – which is higher than the results of the 2004 provincial election, when the party polled 48 per cent.
However, the level of support has dropped eight points from 58 per cent in early January when The Strategic Counsel conducted a similar poll.
The survey of 750 Albertans was taken Feb. 27-28 and is accurate to within 3.6 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
It found the Alberta Liberals nabbed 25 per cent of voter support, while the Wildrose Alliance, a right-wing party that has only been around since January, came in third with 10 per cent.
The NDP and the Alberta Green party both polled at 8 per cent.
The Tories' support is weakest in Calgary (44 per cent) and strongest in rural Alberta (58 per cent).
Before the election was called, the Tories, which have governed the oil-rich, debt-free province since 1971, held 60 of the 83 seats in the legislature.
Mr. Woolstencroft said while the survey found 48 per cent of voters said it's “time for a change” and a new government, many voters don't want to “rock the boat” because economic times in Alberta are quite good.
He said Calgary will be the key battleground on March 3. However, he expects vote splits in many ridings could help the political dynasty, which has an election war chest rumoured to be $4-million.
When the election was called on Feb. 4, observers were expecting an electric campaign, especially in Edmonton and Calgary. However, it's been decidedly lacklustre, with few issues emerging. Around the province, there's little talk about the campaign, with some people not even aware there's one under way.
Other opinion polls published during the campaign have shown a large segment of undecided voters, but Mr. Woolstencroft said his research found no evidence of this.
This will be the first election test for Ed Stelmach since he became Tory Leader in December, 2006. He replaced Ralph Klein, who retired from politics after being premier for almost 14 years.
Mr. Woolstencroft said Mr. Stelmach, a soft-spoken 56-year-old ex-farmer from northern Alberta, has turned out to be a good choice for the political dynasty because he's bolstered the party's support in Edmonton and is expected to keep the Wildrose Alliance at bay in rural Alberta.
Keith Brownsey, a political scientist at Calgary's Mount Royal College, said Liberal Leader Kevin Taft's leadership will be in serious doubt if his party doesn't pick up more seats. At dissolution, the party had 16 seats. He said the debt-ridden Liberals, which haven't governed the province since 1921, have a small election war chest and have been struggling to get their message out.
Mr. Brownsey said The Strategic Counsel poll suggests the Tories could gain as many as 10 seats on March 3.
“With the level of discontent that is reflected in this poll and to have these kind of voting intentions, well, I don't understand it,” he said. “Mr. Stelmach ran an awful campaign, but it doesn't seem to matter.”
The second article from the National Post is rather surprising and really has none of the statistical basis of the first. Probably it is from a survey of oil company insiders at a bar. It is by Don Martin and starts out with the hilarious headline:
Panic creeps into Alberta Tory ranks as election nears
Don Martin, Canwest News Service
Perhaps they are the kingmakers who lost out to Stelmach and the panic is that he is going to show them how well he can do. Here is a snippet from the article:
"But the confided consensus of MPs was that Premier Ed Stelmach is about to lose a bunch of seats in Monday's provincial election and, if the large undecided vote shifts to the opposition or stays home, perhaps lurch into the nightmare scenario of becoming Alberta's first-ever minority government.
Panic has crept into Conservative ranks, but the fret is most intensely felt in Calgary where the party's 37-year reign is facing its most dangerous electoral test in, well, 37 years."
There may be some loss in Calgary but there also may be gains in Edmonton apparently. In a couple of days we will know. Note that even in Calgary the Conservatives have 44 per cent support that is really not all that weak. If the Liberals had that nationally we would be having a Spring election.