Support for UCP, NDP tied mid-pandemic: Angus Reid poll
EDMONTON -- A new Angus Reid poll suggests the United Conservative Party and Alberta New Democratic Party are tied in the public’s favour, while voters turn to alternative platforms.
According to the institute, 35 per cent of people aged 35-54 would vote to elect Jason Kenney’s UCP tomorrow if an election was held – down from 55 per cent of the demographic who voted for the conservative party in 2019.
Kenney’s approval rating dropped 19 points, from 61 per cent to 42 per cent, since June, the survey showed.
“The problems for Kenney’s UCP are twofold. The first is that three-in-ten of its party’s voters from last year are now parking their vote intent elsewhere. Many of these votes are going to the centre-right Alberta Party and the secessionist Alberta Independence Party,” reads the Angus Reid analysis.
Political science expert Lori Williams agreed.
“The tension among the parties on the right which has caused splits in the past is being reflected in this,” Williams said.
“It suggests that the government can’t just count on support on the right. There may be people who are willing to consider other options there.”
The Alberta Party has maintained an estimated nine per cent support, the poll concluded, while about 15 per cent of votes are nearly evenly split between the Alberta Independence Party and others.
Ninety-six per cent of those surveyed who voted for Rachel Notley’s NDP in 2019 told Angus Reid they would support the party again.
Angus Reid also attributes the UCP’s popularity decline to its handling of layered economic issues, as the province faces its largest deficit in history, and health care, specifically the ongoing dispute with doctors over pay and arbitration.
“Though the tone from both sides has mellowed lately, it was presumably jarring to many in the province that the relationship between the province’s doctors and the UCP government was overtly hostile while the pandemic ramped up in Alberta,” the Angus Reid results say.
Williams believes Kenney's handling of the pandemic has been poor — especially over the last few months.
“I think this poll is reflecting some of those concerns and dissatisfaction to the government’s response,” she told CTV News.
“A government that isn’t sympathetic to this high level of anxiety at this point in time, if they don’t respond to that and hear and take it seriously now, I think they’re going to have a hard time winning that support back.”
The survey suggests about 56 per cent of Albertans approve of how their provincial government responded to the pandemic, compared with 77 per cent of Canadians and the federal government.
- READ MORE: 'The most significant economic challenge of our generation': Alberta's forecasted deficit balloons over $24B
- READ MORE: Alta. health minister says doctor concerns about money, not patient care
The Angus Reid survey also found, “just one-in-three residents say the government has done a good job in handling government spending and said deficit, as well as the economy more broadly.
"They are similarly unimpressed with its record on jobs and unemployment, which is higher in Alberta than most other provinces, and public education, following much angst among parents around returning to school during a pandemic.”
According to Statistics Canada, the province’s unemployment rate fell in July for the first time since the COVID-19 shutdown. With 67,000 jobs added, employment rose 3.2 per cent that month, and the unemployment rate dropped to 12.8 per cent.
Jobs is one of the main elements in Kenney’s economic recovery plan, giving the file its own ministry and announcing $10 billion in infrastructure spending.
- READ MORE: Kenney announces minor cabinet shuffle, newly renamed jobs ministry
- READ MORE: Kenney announces plan for economic recovery
However, one MLA from the NDP, the Official Opposition, said the data lined up with what she's heard in the community.
“Many people who voted for Jason Kenney and the UCP last time feel that he is failing on the things he promised to improve their lives on, particularly jobs, the economy, healthcare, and education,” Sarah Hoffman, education critic, said.
“Those are big concerns for almost every Albertan. ”
In response, a government spokesperson told CTV News Edmonton the UCP government was focused on protecting both lives and livelihoods.
"The only poll that truly counts is the one taken on Election Day."
Angus Reid surveyed 599 Alberta adults who are members of the institute’s forum between Aug. 26 and Sept. 1.
The results have a margin of error of +/- four percentage points, 19 times out of 20.