Conservatism Alive, Harperism Not So Much in Alberta

Exit poll reveals that more than a third of Conservative voters thought it was time to replace Stephen Harper.

Calgary, AB – While most voters in Alberta supported the Conservative Party in the Canadian federal election, a sizeable proportion of the base already contemplated a future without Stephen Harper at the helm, a new Insights West “exit poll” conducted in partnership with the Edmonton Journal and the Calgary Herald has found.

In the online survey of Albertans who cast a ballot in the federal election, 55% of respondents thought it was time for a new Conservative leader—including 36% of those who voted for the Tories in the 2015 election.

More than a third of Albertans (36%) say they would have been “happy” if the Liberal Party had formed a minority government, while just 27% are “happy” with a Liberal majority in Ottawa.

“The sentiment from Albertans when it comes to the Liberal majority is understandable,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs, at Insights West. “Three-in-five voters in the province supported the Conservatives, and they were hoping for the party to be more influential in a minority scenario.”

Across Alberta, 27% of voters say they cast their ballots “strategically”. This option was definitely more appealing for those aged 18-to-34 (38%) and those who voted for the Liberals (40%) and the New Democratic Party (NDP) (also 40%).

Factors and Influencers

More Conservative voters considered the leader of the party as the main factor in their final decision (22%, compared to less than 10% for Liberals and New Democrats). Still, the main motivator for Albertans was ideas and policies (Conservatives 35%, Liberals 32%, New Democrats 27%). Change was a big consideration for those who voted for the Liberals (38%) and NDP (40%), while desire for stability was highest among Tories (26%).

When Albertans were asked about the biggest influencers in their vote, the top two options selected were party platforms (87% say they were “very” or “moderately” influential in their choice) and the performance of leaders in debates (65%). More than a third said discussions with family (44%) and discussions with friends (39%) influenced their vote.

In Alberta, fewer than one-in-five voters say their social media interactions with other people (17%) and candidates (18%) influenced their choice. However, the proportion grows to 31% and 35% respectively in the 18-to-34 demographic.

Less than one-in-six Albertans say they were influenced by endorsements from newspapers (15%), non-governmental organizations (14%), unions (9%) and trade associations (8%).

Engagement

More than half of Albertan voters (52%) read a party platform, and 46% watched or attended a debate with federal leaders. One-in-four (23%) met canvassers or candidates who knocked on their door—but this proportion dropped dramatically outside of Calgary and Edmonton (11%).

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Albertans of all political stripes would like to see changes in debates, with 83% saying it should be mandatory for federal party leaders to take part in at least one English language debate that is broadcast nationally, and 78% believing it should be mandatory for candidates to attend at least one public debate in their riding with the candidates from other parties.

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.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from October 18 to October 19, 2015, among 605 adult Albertans who voted in the 2015 Canadian federal election (either in advanced polls or on Election Day). The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.9 percentage points. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

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