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Kenney's approval rating falls below 30%: ThinkHQ poll


Days before UCP members vote in a leadership review, Premier Jason Kenney's approval rating has fallen below 30 per cent, suggests a new poll released Tuesday by ThinkHQ.

The poll also suggests the UCP trail the NDP by 12 percentage points province-wide in terms of voters support.

The pollster says public sentiment about whether or not the UCP should seek a new party leader has remained remarkably stable since December of last year, with more than six-in-10 (63 per cent) wanting Kenney to be replaced, versus 22 per cent wanting him to stay on.

Of those surveyed, 61 per cent of current UCP members want Kenney replaced and 32 per cent said he should stay on.

"If Jason Kenney is retained the UCP is going to have a more difficult time. There's more resistance to considering voting for UCP led by Jason Kenney then there is to UCP led by a new leader, particularly among undecided voters," said Marc Henry, ThinkHQ president.

Henry adds that the poll results show the current NDP opposition party is ahead with 46 per cent compared to 34 per cent for the UCP.

"The challenge that (Premier Jason Kenney has) is his party's trailing significantly on the polls behind the NDP with a 12-point-gap between the two of them province-wide," said Henry, who added this is likely showing the UCP is weak in Calgary and Edmonton.


UCP would have a stronger chance of winning in the next election under a new leader, the survey suggests, with 39 per cent of voters saying they would be more likely to vote that way and 13 per cent saying they’d be less likely.

Kenney's own approval sits at 29 per cent, with 69 per cent of respondents saying they disapprove of his performance.

Henry also added that several positive occurrences in the province are not bolstering the premier's popularity; including higher oil prices providing provincial revenue, a declining unemployment rate and the removal of the provincial gas tax.

"There's a lot of positive things that should be puffing up his sails, but they're not. It could be that voters have just set their opinion about Jason Kenney and that's where they're gonna sit between now and the election."

A spokesperson for the United Conservative Party sent an email statement to CTV News saying:

“We continue to be encouraged by feedback we're hearing from grassroots conservatives and all Albertans and the Premier looks forward to continuing the good work of Alberta's economic recovery," said Harrison Fleming, spokesperson for Kenney's leadership review campaign.


In a tweet reply to a CTV Calgary staff-member's account linking to this story, Brock Harrison, the executive director of communications and planning for the premier said:

"Reminder: This pollster got the 2019 election the *most wrong* of all of them - and that's saying something."

Think HQ's Henry defended his polling conducted within two weeks of the last provincial election, and said the poll results are in line with other pollsters recent releases.

"Our polling in Alberta over the past month is very much in line with there most of the firms have been in terms of the 'horse-race' and in terms of the premier's approval," said Henry.

When a UCP political staffer suggested CTV News review a poll from Janet Brown Opinion Research, she said Tuesday "the UCP leaked that poll and misrepresented it in the process."

Brown added she has no current plans to conduct any further research to be released publicly regarding the UCP or Kenney's approval ratings.


Political watchers say Kenney's recent actions have been motivated to satisfy party members who have been vocally critical of his handling of the pandemic and COVID-19 public health restrictions.

"In firing (Dr. Verna Yiu, Alberta Health Services CEO on Monday) I think that we can see the premier is trying to appease those people within the party who think that the COVID restrictions were excessive, and that the problem was the failures of the health system, as opposed to the failures of public health, on the part of the government," said Lisa Young, political science professor at University of Calgary.

Young says the premier has also made comments to speak against his government's own record by describing COVID-19 protections as damaging restrictions as an attempt to distance himself from the his government's record on COVID, with a focus to restore the premier's popularity within the party.

The resurgence of former Wildrose Party leaders and MLA's Brian Jean and Danielle Smith to Alberta's political scene signals the weakness of Kenney's hold of his party, says Young.

"They're not coming into the party to sit as backbench MLAs, they have leadership aspirations, and they have to think that the job is going to become available, or they're going to try to make sure that the job becomes available," she said.


"His approval is deeply negative and static. Six-in-10 voters want him out as UCP leader and premier and we’re down to the final hours before the leadership review at this point. The UCP coalition in 2019 was resounding. Two parties, once split, came together to unseat an unpopular NDP government. The challenge for the 'United' Conservatives at this point is the 2019 coalition of voters don’t appear ready to support a party led by Kenney again. They are well back in the polls, the Wildrose Independence Party is a force (or at least at this stage a vote-splitting force), and voters aren’t especially motivated to give the premier another go – WIPA voters are particularly vitriolic toward Kenney’s leadership," said ThinkHQ's Henry in a news release.

A vote on Kenney's leadership was scheduled for April 9 in Red Deer, but a surge in members to more than 15,000 registrants forced the party to move to mail-in balloting.

Results of the vote are expected to be made public on May 18.

The online survey of adult Albertans was done between March 29 and April 1 using a sample size of 1,135 people. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of this size is +/- 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Top Stories

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