Be Careful, UCP Hopefuls

March 23rd, 2019  | R. Rados

Prognosticators and prophets for Alberta's upcoming election seem to think Jason Kenney has it in the bag. A lot of pundits and analysts seem to be missing some key elements when making their predictions about how many seats the UCP will actually win. I might be acting a bit too cautious and pessimistic, but these are a few things I think are being overlooked when predicting the NDP's inevitable defeat in Alberta.

Many PC Voters Were Progressives

It's easy to look at most Alberta ridings and combine the Wildrose and PC popular votes to come to the conclusion that the UCP will blowout all the competition. However, one key possibility being overlooked is that many of those old PC voters from 2015 and 2012 might find Jason Kenney a bit “too conservative”. Judging by his past, which is being drudged up by the NDP's fear and smear campaign, Jason Kenney has a history of social conservatism that might not sit well with more progressive voters.

In 2012, progressives joined the Progressive Conservative Party to ensure the defeat of the Wildrose and Danielle Smith. In 2015, Jim Prentice was called a crony and a liberal by Wildrose conservatives. To progressives, Jim Prentice wasn't really a big threat or a big draw. His history didn't have the same marks of social conservatism as Kenney's—meaning this election shouldn't be compared to 2015 in terms of PC votes and support.

Many PC voters—not just from 2012, but from 2015—may not find Kenney very appealing. If polls are true, Kenney's personal popularity in Alberta barely matches Notley's personal popularity. This should be considered a huge red flag for UCP strategists. It means Albertans want change, but they aren't necessarily on board with Jason Kenney personally.

Turnout Is A Factor

The progressives will turn out in huge numbers, but overall turnout is a hit or a miss. The point of the NDP's fear campaign against Jason Kenney is to rile up its base of socialists and progressives and to drive up the party's turnout. Ordinary Albertans might not view the NDP's negative campaign very highly, but it works for the party's die-hard base of wingnuts and progressives.

If Kenney can't match the enthusiasm of the NDP base, his seat count might not be as high as some people think.

Total Liberal Collapse

David Khan's Liberals are heading to a zero seat count. That's bad news for conservatives, but good news for the NDP and the Alberta Party. The Alberta Liberals are polling at about 2-3% and are set to face a total collapse in popular support. They had very little to begin with, but the party's 62,000 votes from 2015 will end up going somewhere. If most of it goes to the Alberta Party, Jason Kenney has nothing to worry about—but some of it will undoubtedly go to the NDP in some key ridings.

A 2012 Repeat

Like I mentioned above, 2012 saw progressives panic and throw their support behind Allison Redford. This led to the defeat of the Wildrose, which was projected to win a possible majority in late polling data. This time, the progressives finally have their own party to rally behind.

If the NDP can ratchet up enough fear, the same kind of panic could damage Kenney's numbers.

Be careful, UCP hopefuls.