Pollster says stagnant approval ratings for Notley and Kenney suggest UCP victory
A recent poll conducted by ThinkHQ Public Affairs found the approval ratings for NDP leader Rachel Notley and UCP leader Jason Kenney have remained relatively unchanged throughout the first three weeks of the campaign.
The agency interviewed a total of 1,139 Albertans on April 5, 2019 and April 6, 2019 for its 'Voters Review Provincial Part Leaders' poll released April 8, 2019 with a margin of error of +/- 2.9 per cent at a 95 per cent confidence interval.
The poll collected the following approval and disapproval rates from the voting public for the performances of the leaders:
- Rachel Notley (NDP): 46% approval (44% in March 2019) , 50% disapproval (49% in March)
- Jason Kenney (UCP): 41% approval (42% in March), 53% disapproval (45% in March)
- Stephen Mandel (AP): 38% approval (25% in March), 39% disapproval (40 % in March)
- David Khan (Liberal): 31% approval (15% in March), 45% disapproval (43% in March)
- Derek Fildebrandt (FCP): 12% approval (no March data released), 56% disapproval (No March data released)
“They’re going to have to do a lot better in the last week of the campaign than they did in the first three weeks,” said Henry. “The NDP’s strategy has been to target Jason Kenney. It’s been pretty effective. His disapproval numbers have actually climbed quite a bit in the last three weeks. His disapproval’s up eight percentage points, not surprisingly, but the problem for the NDP is his approval numbers have actually stayed pretty solid.”
“The problem for the Premier is it hasn’t enhanced her personal reputation among voters particularly in Calgary. If you look at the Premier’s numbers and Jason Kenney’s numbers in Calgary, they’re statistically identical. There’s no difference. Can she make it up in the polls? It’s pretty tough.”
According to Henry, the UCP lead province-wide currently sits at six points but that number hides regional disparities.
“The NDP are running up the score in Edmonton but their vote is very inefficient. Everywhere else they’re losing, even in Calgary and they have to get the votes in Calgary. They either have to keep or gain their seats in Calgary to form government. They’re trailing by 16 per cent. Pretty tough to make that up in a week.”
Henry says ‘soft voters’, the members of the electorate who are undecided or are leaning one direction and could be potentially swayed, account for approximately 30 to 50 per cent of voters at this time but it’s difficult to imagine any potential precursors to a massive swing given the vitriol of the campaign to date.
“It’s difficult to imagine what they might have that could be worse than what’s already been thrown out about Jason Kenney,” said Henry. “The thing to remember is a lot of people are voting not on leadership, there are other issues that are far more important to them. You have a certain percentage of likely conservative voters who either don’t like Jason Kenney or are unsure of him, but they’re voting conservative anyway and it’s because other things are more important to them – the economy, jobs, pipelines and that sort of thing.”
Henry adds in its first weeks, Notley’s campaign placed little emphasis on the party’s plans for the economy and job creation, topics that could appeal to conservatives who do not believe in Kenney, and it may ring untrue if she focuses on them now. “You have to wonder if she starts talking about those things exclusively in the last week whether there’s credibility to them. You haven’t talked about them the whole campaign but now you’re going to decide to start talking about them?”
According to Henry, current polling suggests the UCP will prove victorious in the majority of rural ridings, the NDP has Edmonton has locked up but will struggle to keep its current seats or gain any seats in Calgary, and Lethbridge’s two seats remain up for grabs. “It looks like we’re headed for a new government on the 16th”