Tag Archives: LIBERALS

IMPORTANT RACES TO WATCH AND MY PREDICTIONS

It is election day in Alberta and before I have anything else to say, I have this important thing to say: VOTE!

It will only take a few minutes but it is fundamentally important to our province. Before the campaign started, many pundits were predicting a strong PC majority and very low voter turnout. But, by today, we have laid witness to one of the most profound and interesting campaigns of the last 44 years. Be a part of it.

Without further adieu, I would like to outline a few close races to watch for as the results pour in and also to offer my predictions for the final tally.

Bellwether Ridings

Keep an eye on these ridings, which appear to be some of the closest competitions in the election. The results for these bellwether ridings will help to indicate how well any particular party will do and what the end result may be across the province.

Three Calgary area ridings will be close three-way races between the PCs, WRP and NDP. Each has a PC incumbent, but no real star candidates. These results should indicate the relative strength of any of the three parties in Calgary

  • Calgary-Hawkwood
  • Calgary-Lougheed
  • Calgary Northern Hills

One more riding in Calgary will be close, although the NDP will likely be further behind. It also features a former Wildrose party president dropping the gloves against the Redford-era bullying minister.

  • Calgary-North West

Edmonton is looking like an NDP sweep, but if the Tories can hold a few ridings here, albeit with high profile candidates, it will show some potential strength. Watch these ridings:

  • Edmonton-Millcreek
  • Edmonton-Rutherford
  • Edmonton-Whitemud

A few races outside of the big metros should be quite close and results could be extrapolated to show the provincial trends:

  • Ft McMurray – Conklin: Wildrose leader takes on PC minister with a strong NDP campaign. Three way race.
  • Lesser Slave Lake: Long term PC MLA in a three-way race.
  • Sherwood Park: Two former mayors fight with NDP hot on heels.
  • Spruce Grove-St. Albert: @308dotcom projects NDP win in Horner country, but I’m not convinced.

Other Interesting Ridings

These ridings may not necessarily be the closest ridings, but for one reason or another offer a compelling reason to watch.

Calgary Buffalo: Incumbent Liberal MLA Kent Hehr has decided to take a run at federal politics. The Liberals put up a strong candidate in David Khan, but so did the PCs in Terry Rock. The Orange Wave could still play spoiler.

Calgary Elbow: This rematch of the fall 2014 by-election pits PC Education Minister Gordon Dirks against Alberta Party leader Greg Clark in a traditionally strong conservative riding. Polls and pundits have called this race neck-in-neck.

Calgary Mountain View: Interim Liberal leader, David Swann, is a confident, smart, respectable and well-liked MLA, but he could fall victim to an NDP surge in one of the few ridings that will be fought on the left end of the spectrum. It would be a shame if Swann were to be kept out of the leg.

Edmonton Centre: Laurie Blakeman is an outstanding MLA and deserves big kudos for the victory on GSAs, but she is facing stiff challenge from the NDP’s David Shephard. If the leg were to lose Blakeman it would be a big blow but it would not be her fault.

Both Chestermere-Rocky View and Calgary Acadia have had interesting candidate stories, so they will be fun to keep an eye on, but I suspect they both go Wildrose.

My Prediction

Just because it’s fun to do, I’m guessing we will see an NDP minority.

  • NDP: 37 seats
  • Wildrose: 29
  • PC: 19
  • Liberals: 1
  • Alberta Party: 1

We’re in Alberta and we have a rare close and exciting campaign, so at the end of the day, Albertans will win.

REVISITED: 7 THINGS TO WATCH IN ALBERTA BYELECTIONS

Last week, I wrote about the 7 things to watch in the four October 27th by-elections and now that the results are in, I thought I would revisit the questions.

1. How many ridings will the PCs hold?

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Premier Jim Prentice (credit: Dave Cournoyer)

The PC’s go 4 for 4! Despite the fact that these were Tory strongholds and that the PC vote share was down considerably, this is a big win for Prentice and demonstrates that the electorate is willing to give him a shot without making his party wear too much of the Redford stain.

2. Who will win Calgary-Elbow?

cc: Premier Jim Prentice
Education Minister Gordon Dirks (credit: Premier Jim Prentice)

Alberta’s Education Minister will remain Gordon Dirks as he takes the riding with a comfortable 800 votes over the second place Alberta Party. It turns out that Calgary West was the closer call.

What’s interesting in Elbow is that the Alberta Party and even the Liberals grew their support here compared to 2012. In fact, a clear argument of vote splitting could be made here where nearly 5,000 people voted for these two centre-left parties allowing Dirks to win with only 4,200 votes.

3. Can the Wildrose demonstrate growth?

Danielle Smith (credit: Dave Cournoyer)
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith (credit: Dave Cournoyer)

In 2012, the Wildrose took 20,000 of the 65,000 votes in these four ridings. In 2014, they took 13,800 of 50,000 votes. This is a really bad result for the WRP. Not only were they not able to attract discontented voters amidst Tory scandal, they actually lost vote share – from 31% of voters in 2012 to 28% in 2014. Not only did they not demonstrate growth, but they receded. I will argue that every party has something to be happy about in these results with the exception of the Wildrose.

To be fair, PC vote share went down from 61% to 44% over the past two years in these four ridings, but that was to be expected given the controversies – and the PCs still eked out the wins.

4. Turnout

A voting lineup 9Zcredit: https://www.flickr.com/marrngtn/)
A voting lineup (credit: http://www.flickr.com/marrngtn/)

Just under 50,000 voters came out for by-elections in four ridings that attracted 65,000 voters in 2012. This amounted to a 38% voter turnout. I said that high turnout meant change; well, low turnout represents complacency.

5. Will Greg Clark be a difference maker in Elbow?

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Greg Clark made a difference. He did not win in Elbow but he was a very close second. While the Alberta Party would have had a great advantage if they had a seat in the legislature, this result shows that they can be a credible threat for change in the future.

6. Can the NDP actualize their high poll numbers in Edmonton?

Edmonton-Whitemud NDP Candidate Bob Turner credit: Dave Cournoyer)
Whitemud NDP Candidate Bob Turner (credit: Dave Cournoyer)

The NDP should not do well in Edmonton-Whitemud and yet they finished second. They nearly doubled the number of votes they received in 2012. This is a big win for the NDP and does demonstrate that they could be in play in a number of areas across Edmonton.

There is a footnote to the Alberta Party and NDP gains and that is that each of these parties were able to focus solely on one riding, whereas the other three parties had multiple split focuses. All of the NDP resources were directed to Whitemud and all of the Alberta Party effort was directed to Elbow. The gains will have as much to do with hard work as they do with changing mood of the electorate and so I would be cautious to extrapolate too much of this success into a general election where efforts will be split up again.

7. Will the Liberals maintain relevance?

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman credit: Dave Cournoyer)
Liberal Leader Raj Sherman (credit: Dave Cournoyer)

I wouldn’t call tonight a big win for the Libs but it wasn’t a big loss either. They essentially got 1,000 votes in all of the ridings but Foothills. Their vote total in Elbow grew and they only dropped 300 votes in each of Whitemud and West. They will still have challenges ahead but these results were respectable.

Final Takeaways

Prentice is being given a fair shot and he is being viewed as an agent of change – that is important for his future success, but I still think the leash is short. These were after all some pretty traditionally safe ridings for the Tories.

The Wildrose still needs to do some soul searching. They worked hard to adjust their policy manual but they did not capitalize on some significant discontent that fit squarely into their core messaging around a tired old PC party that needed to be changed. There may be a glass ceiling and there may be some structural issues that need resolving.

We need a new dynamic for progressive voters in Alberta. There is a sense that Alberta is changing, but I can’t imagine any of the Liberals, NDP or Alberta Party coalescing the votes on their own.

Finally, we should give serious consideration to a system of proportional representation. The PCs got 4 seats tonight with just 44% of the total vote while shutting out all of the opposition parties. Despite some very close races there is no voice being placed in the legislature for the thousands of people who voted today for the Wildrose, Liberal, NDP or Alberta party.