Albertans Decry Smith’s Decision to Join Progressive Conservatives

Wildrose Party falls to fourth place among decided voters, while approval for Premier Jim Prentice jumps to 52%.

Calgary, AB – The recent decision from former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith and eight other MLAs to join the Progressive Conservatives did not sit well with most Albertans, a new Insights West poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, only 20% of residents agree with the decision, while three-in-five (62%) disagree with it. In addition, sizeable majorities of Albertans believe that the departing Wildrose members have betrayed the people who voted for them (75%) and that by-elections should be held in the ridings represented by the MLAs who crossed the floor (70%).

While most Albertans (51%) support the notion that the Progressive Conservatives are a different party under Jim Prentice than under previous elected premiers Ed Stelmach and Alison Redford, only 29% agree that, given the current political situation, it makes sense for the Wildrose members to cross the floor.

Voting and Leaders

Across the province, 42% of decided voters (+7 since early December) would support the governing Progressive Conservatives if an election took place tomorrow.

The Liberal Party is a distant second with 19% (+4), followed by the New Democratic Party (NDP) with 18% (+2) and the Wildrose Party with 14% (-15). Practically two-in-five Albertans (38%) are undecided.

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More than half of residents (52%, +6) approve of the performance of Premier and Progressive Conservative leader Jim Prentice. Two other party leaders saw their approval numbers increase at the end of the year: Liberal leader Raj Sherman to 35% (+6) and NDP leader Rachel Notley to 32% (+5).

The approval rating for Smith plummeted to 17%, down 21 points in a month. In April, the then Wildrose leader had an approval rating of 60% among Albertans.

“In a span of four weeks, the Progressive Conservatives gained support among decided voters and saw the Premier’s approval jump markedly,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “Conversely, the Wildrose Party has lost half of its backers in four weeks, and only one-in-four of its 2012 voters are currently saying they will stay with the party in the next election.”

The economy and jobs (24%, +14) is now the top issue facing Alberta, followed by health care (23%, -8) energy and pipelines (17%, +10) and accountability (12%, -5).

Story and Newsmaker of the Year

Albertans consider the drop in the price of oil (37%) and the resignation of Alison Redford (34%) as the biggest news stories of 2014, followed by the Wildrose leader and MLAs joining the Progressive Conservatives (8%) and discussions related to the Keystone XL Pipeline (7%).

An open-ended question asked residents to type in the name of the person they consider the “Newsmaker of the Year” in the province. More than half of those who wrote a name (52%) selected former Premier Alison Redford, while 22% picked current head of government Jim Prentice, and 17% chose former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary and has seventeen employees.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from December 28 to December 30, 2014, among 603 residents of Alberta who are aged 18+ and are Your Insights panel members. YourInsights.ca is Insights West’s in-house access panel offering on-demand samples for both clients and research suppliers looking for Western Canadian populations. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. While statistical margins of error are arguably not applicable to online panels/online studies of this nature, we have assumed that the same margins of error apply as if it were a true unweighted random probability sample with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty. To view the detailed data tabulations, click here.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West
778-929-0490
mariocanseco@insightswest.com

 

Photograph: Jim Prentice and Danielle Smith – Courtesy of Dave Cournoyer, CC