Data shows People’s Party of Canada gathering large amount of online search interest in Alberta
In the past week, Albertans and residents of Saskatchewan have been searching for information about the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) the most on Google, according to data released by the search engine.
Google Trends, a website analyzing popularity of queries people input into the search engine, says the PPC dominated search interest in federal political parties in the past week within Alberta.
According to data released by Google, 34 per cent of searches in Alberta related to the PPC at the time of publication while the New Democratic Party (NDP) garnered 32 per cent of searches.
Twenty-one per cent of searches related to the Conservative Party and nine per cent of searches were for information about the Liberal Party. The Green Party received the lowest amount of search interest with only four per cent of searches.
Search interest was dominated by the PPC since Sept. 5 until 10 days later when it started to switch on a daily basis between that party and the federal NDP.
Nationally, the NDP received the highest amount of searches at the time of publication with 32 per cent while the PPC had 30 per cent of searches. The Conservative Party and Liberal Party had 21 and 10 per cent of search interest across the country in the past week, respectively.
When it comes to federal political leaders, Google Trends says Justin Trudeau represented 54 per cent of search interest in Alberta within the past week. Erin O’Toole garnered 21 per cent of interest while Jagmeet Singh and Maxime Bernier received 12 per cent and 9 per cent of search interest, respectively.
Search interest for all the party leaders was highest on Sept. 10, the night of the only televised English debate.
Search interest for the PPC in Alberta was driven primarily by rural areas, particularly in central and southern regions of the province. Data showed NDP search interest was highest in Athabasca, Fort MacLeod, Ponoka, Morinville, Edmonton, and Stettler.
Search interest for the NDP was highest in the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, and Alberta.
Founded in 2018 by Maxine Bernier, the party brands itself as a mix of “common sense, populism, classical conservatism and libertarianism.” Its platform includes withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, decreasing immigration, and reducing government involvement in the free market. The party has been criticized for harbouring racist views and legitimizing white nationalism.
In the 2019 federal election, the PPC captured less than two per cent of the popular vote and its leader Maxime Bernier lost his own seat.
According to the most recent Nanos Research's nightly tracking data, conducted for CTV News and the Globe and Mail and released on Saturday, the PPC saw a slight dip from 7.5 per cent to 7.3 per cent.
Polling shows the Liberals had a slight drop in support from 31.9 per cent to 31.3 per cent. The Conservatives saw a similar dip from 30.4 per cent to 29.2 per cent. The NDP are at 20.9 per cent, up from 20.3 per cent the previous day.
According to Nanos election tracking for the prairie region specifically, polling shows 8 per cent of people surveyed from Sept. 10 to 14 would vote for the PPC – compared to 49 per cent Conservative, 23 per cent NDP, and 17 per cent support. From Aug. 18 to 22, PPC support was polled at 5 per cent.
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'IT’S AN INDICATION OF INTEREST'
For Rey Rosales, associate professor in the department of communications at MacEwan University, the Google Trends data is one indicator that can be used to gauge voter interest in a particular party that may not translate to votes.
“It’s an indication of interest,” Rosales said.
“(At this point) voters have been fed all kinds of information,” he added. “They’ve gone through a lot of awareness already, messages on social media and all kinds of channels. So search interest can show what people are looking at or considering.”
Further, Rosales said that search interest can also show indicators of what people are looking at to validate their beliefs or inclinations in voting a certain way.
On the flip side, search interest results only show what people are looking at. Rosales said that while the Liberals and Conservatives have low search rates in Alberta, it could be due to people seeing their messaging more and not needing further information.
When it comes to northern Alberta, Rosales said the three ridings to watch for are Edmonton Centre, Mill Woods, and Griesbach. Outside of those ridings, Rosales said polling and data he’s seen is showing comfortable Conservative leads.
“You can’t really find anything competitive in Alberta,” Rosales said. “Alberta is still dominated by blue.
“There are only pockets of interest where ridings can be competitive,” he added.
“In terms of the final numbers, the surging numbers of the PPC might take a little away from Conservatives but it will probably mean little difference. We shall see on election night.”
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One thing Rosales says he’s noted after seeing the search interest results is that people are clearly seeking out information about the PPC.
“In Alberta, the party has the highest share of polling,” Rosales says. “So it shows a growing interest here.
“Something is resonating, from their platform, messaging, or candidates,” he added. “They have messaging between hope and fear, of anxiety; limiting immigration, less (COVID) restrictions.
“For people in rural areas those types of messages will tend to appeal to them.”
A national random telephone survey (land-and cell-line sample using live agents) of 1,200 Canadians is conducted by Nanos Research throughout the campaign over a three-day period. Each evening a new group of 400 eligible voters are interviewed. The daily tracking figures are based on a three-day rolling sample comprising 1,200 interviews. To update the tracking, a new day of interviewing is added and the oldest day dropped. The margin of error for a survey of 1,200 respondents is ±2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The respondent sample is stratified geographically and by gender. The data may be weighted by age according to data from the 2016 Canadian Census administered by Statistics Canada. Percentages reported may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
For Prairie region polling, a national dual-frame (land+cell) random telephone survey is conducted nightly by Nanos Research throughout the campaign using live agents. This report is comprised of a comparison of two five-day periods of the election campaign, the first wave being between Aug. 18 and 22 and the second between Sept. 10 and 14, for voters in the Prairies.
The margin of error for a survey of 376 and 422 respondents is ±5.1 percentage points and ±4.8 percentage points respectively, 19 times out of 20.
With files from CTV News’ Brooke Taylor