May 11, 2015

So what actually happened in the Alberta election?

Karsten ErzingerRebel Blogger

After the dust had settled on May 5th in Calgary, a seemingly shocking result emerged; the NDP won a majority government. A lot has been written analyzing the election and trying to explain just how this occurred. 

Some think Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi deserves credit for the NDP win, others think it’s a result of the demographic changes in Alberta, or perhaps Albertans just wanted to kick out the PC’s and saw the NDP as the best people to do just that. After crunching the numbers and looking at the polling data, I think a few there are a few key points being missed in the mainstream media’s analysis of the election.

1. The Wildrose campaign in 2012 forged a path for the NDP.

Back in 2012, the province was buzzing over the fact that the scrappy Wildrose Party may topple the longstanding PC Government. However, a rough final week in the election featured a plethora of PC attack ads and Wildrose candidate mishaps, resulting in a PC victory.

Results aside, the election itself served to collectively reminded voters that they don’t always have to vote PC. Voter turnout was up that election over previous ones and Albertans were reminded that they do have a choice when it comes to who they send to Edmonton to govern.

2. Despite the polling saying otherwise, half of Albertans still thought the PCs would win.

Because of the 2012 election, Albertan’s have viewed opinion polls very skeptically. That led to many questioning the results of opinion polls in the 2015 election and these perceptions likely led to the PC vote being inflated. The Wildrose messaging through the final week was “We are in the best position to beat the NDP” and in many ridings they were.

However, the fact that many people still saw a PC government being the probable outcome likely had 2 effects. First, given that the NDP had momentum going into Election Day, anti-PC votes likely went more to the NDP than to the Wildrose. Second, conservative voters who didn’t want an NDP government were more likely to have cast their votes for the PC’s thinking they were the best chance of stopping them.

I would wager that if the province took a mulligan on the election results (something Jim Prentice probably wishes he could do), the Wildrose would have a stronger showing.

3. The PCs had a superior ground game.

If you compare the polls to the outcome of the election, you’ll notice a couple things. First, the polls seemed to have correctly gauged the levels of the NDP and Wildrose support, with some small discrepancies depending on which poll you look at. However, the polls all underestimated the support the PCs received.

From my perspective, this shows the strength of the PC ground game and the common voter’s belief that they would still win the election. While most polls had the PCs in the low 20’s, they finished with 28% in the popular vote. In particular, the results in Calgary and Edmonton show the PCs being much stronger than where the polls had them.

To me, this is an indication of the PCs “Get out the Vote” efforts working in conjunction with the public perceptions prior to Election Day. Without their superior voter ID’s, money and resources, the PC’s likely would have suffered a worse defeat. Instead, they can consider the popular vote results as some sort of a silver lining.

So what does this all mean? To me, it’s clear that the 2012 election had a major effect on the voting public in this election. From a distrust of polling figures to voters being open to changing government, the shadow of 2012 loomed large over the election.

A number of former Wildrose supporters switched their votes to the NDP, who rode a wave that began during the TV debate through to Election Day. The lack of bozo eruptions and tough scrutiny of NDP candidates helped the NDP accomplish what the Wildrose started but was unable to finish: ending the PC dynasty.

In addition, the public perceptions continued to work in the NDP’s favor. Because many still believed the PCs would win, they were able to boost their voter turnout through their superior ground game well above what the polls had them pegged at.

This led to the Wildrose receiving less support than they could have captured, resulting in a number of ridings swinging to the NDP. If the public were less skeptical of the polling data, the Wildrose likely would have received a boost in support at the end of the election, due to polling higher than the PC and the NDP surge.

So while commentators may point to Mayor Nenshi or a variety of other reasons to explain the NDP victory, I think the NDP owe the PC’s and the Wildrose, a huge thank you for their historic win. Without the events from 2012 election, the NDP would have faced a much harder battle and the election likely would have finished with a much different result. 


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commented 2015-05-14 11:03:22 -0400
A full Audit is required, whistle blowers need to come forward! Brand switch means absolutely nothing in this new era of tyranny! If you’re not involved in the IN crowd you are just another displaced critter, so find out in your local community who runs what and at that point the tyranny is vulnerable.
commented 2015-05-13 00:03:03 -0400
Ken Clements – " Few from the middle class will every see any benefits coming their way."

Except the public sector. They will benefit greatly from the NDP reign of terror.
commented 2015-05-12 13:31:36 -0400
So this vote for the NDP was all about supplanting the PCs? That would make sense I guess if you consider the NDP already had their native vote, plus the majority of the former Liberal party vote that evaporated. Red Tory voters who were finally disgusted with the PC probably went NDP, and maybe even would be WR voters who thought the NDP would be the best way to ensure the PC would have no voice at the table.
commented 2015-05-12 12:08:16 -0400
Fairly lucid analysis Karsten. Having been involved in AB politics for over 30 yrs, I can tell you this election was definitely a house cleaning in all the historic context in which Albertans do this. This was not the election of aa government, this was the removal of a government – en mass, in typical Alberta fashion. Thee old party (once perceived as old, corrupt, complacent etc.) is decimated and the winner is swept in in a super majority – all was on track for this established pattern except the winner by default was not put in in a super majority and in all likelihood was not the first choice of the majority vote. That is because unlike those other watershed AB elections the majority vote was split.

Albertans (the majority who voted WR or PC realize the horrible mistake and the morning-after shock has changed to voter remorse and “when do we vote again, it can’t be soon enough”. So the next election will be the real correction in achieving popular majority.

All this begs the question how will the NDP react – well if they are smart, and if they have been awake the past 30yrs in Alberta, the NDP can survive by becoming the PCs – just as the liberals survived by becoming the PCs. If Notley acts like a Bob Rae one shot wonder pushing socialist agendas as fast as possible, the Dips will go back to the political ash heap with the Liberals, Social Credit, CCF, and PCs in the “correction” in 4 years.
commented 2015-05-12 09:22:54 -0400
I voted for the WR, since those remaining had integrity, plus they are a conservative party. I think the public will regret the day that these socialists were ever elected with a majority. We are in for some tough times here in AB, which will affect the rest of Canada. Don’t be expecting your full allowance, when the livelihood of our province is at stake.
commented 2015-05-11 20:00:41 -0400
The outcome was pure and simple vote splitting between Wild Rose and the PCs. I wonder if the NDP will complain about the first past the post now that it benefited them.
commented 2015-05-11 19:27:11 -0400
Next election they can go back in the corner
commented 2015-05-11 19:20:56 -0400
Many people I work with voted NDP. When you ask them about what part of the NDP platform appealed to them and made them decide to vote for the party, everyone of them said “I just wanted the PC’s out and we needed new blood in Edmonton.I didn’t bother to see what they stand for”! Huh? They voted for a socialist party where the leader was attending an anti oil rally a few weeks before the election was called and they actually think that the NDP won’t go after the oil companies now that they rule the province? A few have told me that things will be much better now that the NDP are in power because they look after the people. Guess they don’t realize that they will be paying for being looked after with a carbon tax, sales tax and many other taxes that will be used for social programs and keeping the unions happy. Few from the middle class will every see any benefits coming their way. This election merely proved that 85% of the voters in any election are completely ignorant of the issues and what the parties stand for. And we thought that Redford was bad.
commented 2015-05-11 16:58:20 -0400
You forgot to point out how social Media has made it hip for the youngsters to go out and vote now. Something that worked in favour for the NDP.