The fall of a hegemonic party?

In the chronicles of elections, ever noteworthy is the vote that results in the fall of a long-time hegemonic party. Tonight we may see such an outcome.

Somewhere in Africa? Asia, perhaps? No.

Canada. Or, to be more specific, Alberta.

The province has its legislative assembly election today, and the opposition Wildrose Alliance has been on track to win a majority. However, late in the campaign, the incumbent Conservatives have closed the gap. That we are witnessing a potential for alternation is momentous, for the Conservatives have governed since 1971, a string of eleven consecutive general elections.

During this string, the party has been genuinely hegemonic at times, winning more than 85% of the seats five times, and under 70% only twice (65.3% in 1971 and 61.5% in 1993). Its vote share has been under 50% only four times (1971, 1989, 1993, and 2004), with a low of 44.5% in 1993.

In the most recent election, that of 2008, the Conservatives managed 86.7% of the seats on 52.7% of the votes. Clearly, the party has benefited handsomely from the First Past the Post electoral system. At the same time, it has been more dominant in votes than most ruling parties under FPTP systems.

The challenger, the Wildrose Alliance, has attacked the Conservatives from the right. In 2008, Wildrose won only 6.8% of the vote and no seats. According to the ThreeHundredEight projection, Wildrose should win 43 seats out of 87, on 38.4% of the votes. The Conservatives should win 39 seats on 35.8% of the vote. Such a result would mean a balanced assembly, and likely a minority government. However, there is a great deal of uncertainty in the projection, with the estimate for Wildrose ranging from 22 to 62 and that for the Conservatives ranging from 20 to 62! Obviously there are a lot of closely contested ridings (districts) and this one may go down to the wire!

As has been usual in Alberta, the New Democratic Party looks set to come in third. The Liberals, who have been the second party in every election since 1989, with vote totals ranging from 26.4% to 39.7% in those elections (but only once more than 25% of the seats) might fall to fourth place.

With Wildrose hoovering up votes from disaffected right-wing voters who think the provincial Conservatives have gone soft, the Conservatives themselves may have to rely on tactical votes of NDP and Liberal sympathizers in urban ridings if they are going to hang on.

The Wildrose surge invites comparisons to the “tea party” south of the border. This is a party that does not accept climate science, wants to privatize (at least parts of) health-care delivery, and has had its share of gaffe-prone amateur candidates who were a bit too honest about their views on such topics as gays and South Asians.

Of course, the difference between Wildrose and tea-partiers is that while the latter have engaged in a takeover bid against the existing right-wing party, the former is challenging it head-on. Part of the difference is the dominance of the right in Alberta–even a split right will still result in a right-wing government of some flavor. And part of it is parliamentary democracy–operating as a tendency within a party is less attractive when you can form your own and thereby potentially take over the government.

47 thoughts on “The fall of a hegemonic party?

  1. For those interested in following Alberta politics, I recommend the blog of Calgary Grit, http://calgarygrit.blogspot.com/, one of the few enthusiastic Liberals in the province.

    You can also do worse than to go to the Wikipedia article on Alberta politics, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Alberta. Essentially, Albertans have a history of giving huge majorities to the provincial government party, until they turn on a dime and give huge majorities to what had been a fringe party in provincial politics, which then becomes the new dominant provincial party, until it isn’t, and so on. There is a very rise-and-fall of Chinese dynasties dynamic to the system. The Liberals, then the Socialist cooperative United Farmers of Alberta, then the Social Credit Party, then the Conservative Party have been the successive beneficiaries of this. The United Farmers of Alberta, by the way, still exists as an agribusiness that steers clear of politics.

    The Quebecois do this at the federal level, voting in lock step for one federal party then rejecting them a few elections later and giving an overwhelming majority to another federal party. But there is a certain logic to this, as this might be the best strategy to maximize Quebec’s influence at the federal level, and Quebec has a multiparty provincial political system. In contrast, Albertans guarantee the federal Conservatives all but a couple of their ridings while having one party government at the provincial level, though the name of the party changes every few decades.

    Arguably this has been fine for Alberta, whose economy has been booming, but by that logic people should be taking the political system of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States as more worthy of imitation.

  2. According to Calgary Grit, the Alberta Conservatives won easily, just as they’ve won easily the last dozen or so elections. My argument in the last post is that they will continue to win easily in each election, until suddenly, in one election, they will lose.

  3. Well, this was supposed to be that election, but it wasn’t. Yes, another Conservative landslide. About 60 seats.

    This is why voters decide elections, and not pollsters, pundits, or psephological forecasters.

  4. Alberta and the recent Queenslandslide have got[ten] me musing on the difference between a landslide election victory in a parliamentary system vs a landslide win in a presidential election.

    Basically, a landslide in a presidential system is mainly symbolic. It will probably pull in more Congressreps on the winner’s coat-tails if the legislative election is held concurrently (which in turn may help preserve a legislative majority into the future if the upper house members are chosen for long terms in rotation). But it doesn’t really help “tilt” the result of the next presidential election. The contenders will begin at the same starting line.

    By contrast, the larger the landslide in a parliamentary system, the more likely the losing side will be in opposition not just for one term but for two or three. Two reasons for this I can think of:

    (a) Sitting MPs always benefit from some personal vote, separate from party swings – not as much as US Congressreps do, but enough to make the difference in a close race (Aust 1998 is often cited as an example). By contrast, in many presidential systems the chief exec is term-limited, either by law or (as in the USA from Washington to FDR, and it seems in 5.1th Republic France) by convention (eg, Mitterrand and Chirac both stepped down after 2 terms, albeit the former had cancer and died the following year). And we can say with confidence that sitting Presidential Electors in the US do not benefit from any personal vote whatsoever.

    (b) Because future parliamentary leaders must be drawn from the existing legislature, and usually must show some mastery of a ministerial or shadow portfolio to get promoted, a large govt majority reduces the opposition’s pool of talent. Parachuting in leaders from outside the parliament might work, but a Campbell Newman (or a Bob Hawke) is a rarely successful gamble. By contrast, US presidents rarely come from Congress and are more often State Governors. And as far as I know, no US President has ever served as a Presidential Elector.

    So a Democratic sweep of the Electoral College in 1964 doesn’t significantly hinder the GOP from winning in 1968, just as Nixon’s landslide in 1972 doesn’t prevent the Dems taking back the White House four years later.

    I should clarify that if voter preferences shift profoundly, then of course all else being equal it will take a long time for a critical mass of them to shift back. But I’m thinking more of how the different institutional structures make it easier or harder for the party out of power to present itself as a credible alternative govt/ administration.

    Interestingly, each US President’s popular and electoral vote seems to go up when s/he runs for re-election (excluding Carter, and also Bush I, although the later could be seen as seeking a “GOP fourth term” rather than a personal second term). By contrast, as Antony Green has noted http://tinyurl.com/2atjq84, Australian govts tend to come in from opposition with a large majority (1975 and 1996, to a lesser extent 1983 and arguably 2007) but then “take a hit” on their first election in power. In 1984 and 1998, the new govt would have been a one-termer but was saved by the arrangement of electoral boundaries (Hawke would have lost under the 1983 boundaries without the intervening redistribution, and Howard lost the 2PP vote). This may be specific to Australia as newly-elected govts often seek re-election only 2 years after coming to power so they can re-synchronise the Senate and House terms. Certainly Thatcher, for example, managed to reduce the number of Britons who detested her to only 56.1% between 1979 and 1983.

    [And yes, I know my sample size is limited: counter-examples welcome!]

    • Alan, I think that point on landslides makes sense.

      Ross, yes, of course, you are right on the Alberta party’s name. Small-c conservative party nomenclature in Canada is somewhat perplexing.

  5. Good summary MSS. My only nitpick is that governing party is the Progressive Conservative. Conservative is the name of the federal party, which is somewhat kindred, but not legally related.

    Federal Conservatives would have found themselves split between provincial PCs and the Wildrose contenders. The use of federal political machinery by Wildrose helped make the race quite competitive.

    What’s most interesting is that more than one poll reported after the election that there was a swing of 7% in the last 36 hours of the race. Compare this to the 4% swing in the last 36 hours of federal election of 2011 (mostly from Liberal to Conservative), which was already considered quite volatile.

    I haven’t been collecting data, but my impression is that as party ID shrinks to almost nothing in Canada, an increasing number of elections are decided in the last 36 to 72 hours.

  6. MSS, Tom’s although I agree completely with him. The Newman government has 78 seats in a house of 89 on a 49.7%. The Labor opposition has 7 seats on a popular vote 26.6%.

    The obvious solution to the problems Tom identifies is proportional representation.

    Queensland is also having an election tomorrow for the Brisbane city council which, unusually for Australia, is a semi-presidential system.

  7. Queensland’s electoral oscillates between wipeout landslides where the opposition is reduced to ineffectiveness (1974, 1977, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2012) and hung parliaments (1983 – rapidly “un-hung” when Bjelke-Petersen bribed two of the Liberals, who were then out of coalition, to jump ship to the Nationals the day after the election: one of those Libs was later jailed for a separate corruption charge – 1995-96, and 1998). “Healthy” majorities – even by the standards of other SMD systems, ie the opposition around 45% of the seats – are rare. It’s like a thermostat that delivers either boiling showers or freezing ones.

    Alberta’s, on the other hand, seems to consistently deliver landslides. I understand that Ms Redford is seen as having just squeaked in by the standards of that province’s premiers.

  8. Another way to put it is that the US Elec College is chosen by (mostly) State-wide party-list MNTV, so that (a) individual candidates for Elector cannot cultivate a personal/ incumbency vote, and (b) a small plurality in votes will usually deliver a massive majority of seats – much larger even than SMDs usually deliver. Qld/ Alberta are outliers, as was US 2000, but it is rare for SMDs to deliver 90% of the seats to one side – yet the EC does this regularly (eg, 1964, 1972 and 1984, ie 25% of the last 12 presidentials).

    Thus, Reagan’s 1984 blowout, to choose the most recent, was based on 60% of the vote, not 85-90% (which you would need with PR) or even 70-75% (which you would need with SMDs). And a large chunk of that vote was attached to Reagan personally, not the Republican Party – no doubt a large number of trucker hat guys then voted for Clinton in ’92 and ’96.

    I once read someone who’d worked on Goldwater’s campaign comment that Election Night 1964 would have been less depressing had someone told him that the GOP would win four of the next five presidential elections after that. Whereas (to use the Qld example again, which I’m most familiar with), the CW is that Labor’s 1974 culling to 11 seats of 72 took the next two elections (1977 and 1980) to overcome – it was 1983 before Labor was really competitive again, and even then its main hope of winning was the Liberals breaking the coalition with the Nats.

  9. Also, a correction – in 1983, the number of voters who detested Margaret Thatcher actually rose slightly from 1979. However her party still won more seats. (But wait, look, using this algebraic example I can prove that TEH STV-AV IS NON-MONOTONIC SO YOU MUSTN’T USE IT!!!!!!)

  10. The US electoral college is nowhere chosen by any form of MNTV, because the voter has just one vote: for a presidential candidate–or, more accurately, for the closed list of electors pledged to that candidate. The electoral system is simply FPTP: the list (of electors pledged to the candidate) with the most votes wins them all.

    In all cases, M>1, except for congressional districts in Maine and Nebraska, for which M=1. Those two states also have M=2 electoral districts, based on the same vote.

    If it were actually MNTV, the voter would be voting for multiple elector-candidates, who would then have (potential) incentives to cultivate personal votes. Some US states used to select electors that way (and a few still elect presidential nominating delegates that way), though unless maybe if they run “uncommitted” there is still no incentive for such candidates to cultivate a personal vote. The latter requires that they be able to deliver on something as individuals, but given that the only act they have is to vote to choose a single official (president or nominee), there is not much point of a personal vote.

  11. Conceded, then, “closed-list mutli-seat FPTP” rather than “party-list MNTV” (which could be mistaken for Cyprus’s panachage system).

    I understand that Alabama did use MNTV as late as 1960. Some of the Democratic Elector candidates were pledged to Kennedy, others were Dixiecrats or fence-sitters, and they received significantly varying numbers of votes individually. As a result, there is no clear or agreed measure of exactly how many Alabamans “voted for Kennedy” in 1960.

  12. MSS @13: I remember you calling a very similar (though of course parliamentary) system in Cote d’Ivoire or Cameroun ‘Party-list majoritarian’ or something of the sort. I’ve personally read ‘party bloc vote’ in other places.

    • JD, I am confident that your memory is faulty with respect to any advocacy on my part of majoritarian party-list systems.

  13. On comment #14, one curiosity of the unpledged Democratic elector lists run in Alabama and Mississippi is that 1960 might actually have been a reversal election; depending on how you count votes for these electors (some of which got elected and did NOT vote for Kennedy), Nixon may have won the popular vote. The standard totals that show Kennedy with a slim popular vote lead nationally count votes for these electors as votes for Kennedy, and his margin disappears if they are removed from his total.

    On comment #7, I disagree with the linked article in counting 1952 and 1980 as landslide presidential elections. The popular vote margin for the winning candidate in these elections was just under 10%, and actually around the average margin for post World War II presidential elections.

    Removing those elections leaves four landslides, 1956, 1964, 1972, and 1984, all of which involved the re-election of the incumbent, with between 58% and 61% of the popular vote. This is historically unusual. The only other similarly lopsided elections were the reelection of Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, the reelection of Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, and three consecutive Republican landslides in the 1920s after the Democratic Party had been discredited with the electorate for taking the country into World War I.

    I suspect the key ingredient for the post-World War II landslides was the Cold War. If an incumbent president seemed to be handling the Soviet threat adequately, voters throughout the country rallied around him. The electorate also dumped two presidents during the 1970s, when the number of communist countries seemed to be expanding.

    Also, one striking thing was the number of states won by Eisenhower in 1952, Reagan in 1980, and Bush in 1988 with popular vote margins that were around the same as Clinton’s margin in 1996 and Obama’s in 2008. But Clinton’s and Obama’s margins didn’t get them anywhere near forty states. This could be that regional variation in the popular vote increased in the 1990s, or it could be that the Republicans had a strong regional fortress or base in all those mountain and plains states that ensured they could still carry lots of states even when losing, and the Democrats have never had anything like this.

  14. > “GOP would win four of the next five presidential elections after that”

    Err, actually five of the next six.

  15. There certainly have been been cases of MNTV (vote for up to M candidates, who win solely based on their individual vote totals) for presidential electors in the past in various states. I am unsure whether that was the case in any states in 1960, or whether those were lists (as Ed says, though he may not have meant “lists” the way I do) that were uncommitted as a whole.

    Anyway, this was really supposed to be a discussion of Alberta.

  16. Alabama, Alberta… hell, why not move the discussion to Algeria next.

    “A large part of the vote cast in Alabama in 1960 is routinely assigned to Kennedy in text and reference books, even though those votes were cast for Electors who were unambiguously NOT supporters of the Senator from Massachusetts.” (p 71).

    “By convention, the reported [Presidential] vote total in long-ballot States is almost always the number won by whichever Elector secured the MOST votes for each side. This is not a legal or constitutional standard, merely a common practice. A moment’s reflection, however, reveals that this is quite an atypical approach to summarising a set of numbers. […] Variation [in individual vote tallies] across Electors, as might be produced by differences in their individual popularity, the ordering of names on the ballot, voter confusion about how many Electors to support, and so on, can generally be dismissed as a mere nuisance.” (p 74)

    – Brian J Gaines, “Popular Myths About Popular Vote-Electoral College Splits.” 34(1) PS: POLITICAL SCIENCE & POLITICS (January 2001) 71-75. http://tinyurl.com/ccuaqby

    “The year 1960 was a period in which the Southern whites after a long, long period of solid support of Democrats were beginning their shift into their present Republican voting in Presidential elections. As a first step in that direction, a number of ‘true Democratic’ movements were set up in the South, the purpose of which was to avoid endorsing that national Democratic candidates and at the same time not endorse the national Republican candidates. Alabama has a primary election for Presidential electors. In the primary election a slate of anti-Kennedy electors won six of the seven nominations and five were won by pro-Kennedy electors. The six anti-Kennedy electors then proceeded to carry on a vigorous and active campaign. The pro-Kennedy electors stayed home and said nothing. The ultimate outcome was 324,000 for all eleven Democratic electors. The anti-Kennedy electors received eight thousand more votes than the pro-Kennedy electors.

    “The popular vote is very difficult to disentangle. The above figures [published in a reference guide, and crediting JFK with 324,050 Alabama votes and RN with 237,981] assume that the people who voted for all eleven of the electors were pro-Kennedy. Obviously, this is too simple, but what should be substituted for it is by no means obvious. I personally would suggest that we simply discard all these votes in the popular total on the grounds that we can’t tell what these voters thought. Another possibility would be to divide the popular vote cast for these eleven electors in the same ratio as the popular vote in the earlier primary. Either of these corrections would lead to Nixon’s having more popular votes nationally than Kennedy.”

    – Gordon Tullock, “Did Nixon Beat Kennedy?” Letter, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS (10 November 1988). http://tinyurl.com/c5xg7r3

    • JD, got it. Sorry for misinterpreting.

      Yes, I might have said we should use a term like “party-list majoritarian” to describe electoral systems such as that for the US electoral college. Others (e.g. the IDEA Handbook) do indeed say “party block vote”. Either seems fine, but I do think it makes sense to call it the former, because we have “party-list PR” and thus it makes sense to have also “party-list majoritarian”.

      Also, those who use “party block vote” do so to distinguish it from plain old “block vote”, which is a term I dislike for the simple fact that the extent to which voters vote in block under such (“MNTV”) systems is a variable, not a feature of the rules. If we stopped with the misleading “block vote” then there seems no reason to modify the (now defined away) system by using the “party” qualifier for systems where the only vote is at the level of a party (or alliance/block).

  17. Please. “Party list plurality”, not “majority”.

    I find British usage odd in this regard – the candidate with the most votes always has a “majority” (well, I s’pose s/he does over the highest runner up), but one would not say that the Tories are the “majority party” in the House of Commons just because they have the most seats.

    Clarence Hoag, I think, writing in Grofman & Lijphart (1984) coined the useful term “near-quota” and by extension, perhaps we could use “sub-quota” and “sub-plurality” to mean those “minorities” who not only fall short of a quota (PR) or majority (SMD) but also don’t have a plurality (SMD) or largest remainder/ highest average (PR).

    • Tom, I agree that the specific electoral systems are “party-list plurality” and, if by two rounds, “party-list majority”, and I agree on the common British mis-use of the term, majority.

      I used “party-list majoritarian” in the sense of the family of “majoritarian” electoral systems–those that make manufactured majorities likely. Like it or not, “majoritarian” is standard political science terminology for the family in question. Some have suggested “pluralitarian”, which may be more accurate, but has not caught on.

  18. @4 someone (err, me…) wrote that “Australian govts tend to come in from opposition with a large majority”.

    Having said that, some highly successful Aust State Premiers first came to office with either a one-seat majority (Wran NSW 1976, Carr NSW 1995) or dependent on Independent support (Beattie Qld 1998, Bracks Victoria 1999), yet managed to win solid majorities at the next two or three elections.

    Indeed, the 1978 “Wranslide” still holds the Australian record, I believe, for the highest proportion of first-preference votes for one party (Labor scored 57.7% – 60% of the two-party preferred – but took “only” 63 out of 99 seats). The LNP’s 2012 78/89 seats for 49% of first preferences looks downright Thatcherian by comparison.

  19. > “those that make manufactured majorities likely. Like it or not, “majoritarian” is standard political science terminology for the family in question”

    Hmmm. I see where you’re coming from, and realise the futility of trying to fight long-established usage, but I do find the usage prejudicial since it tends to [be (ab)used to] imply that PR systems ensure “minority rule” rather than “majority rule”. Whereas I would argue that Israel’s electoral system prevents minority rule in a way that UK’s doesn’t. Of course, one might say “a unilateral sic volo by a large minority is preferable than one or more small minorities having the power to veto” but they are still both minorities.

  20. A snap election has been called for next month, and an end to the PC dynasty seems even likelier than last time; now, however, there are two (!) challengers, making this a three-way race between the ruling PCs, Wildrose and the NDP. This is a dramatic turnaround for Wildrose, which seemed set to fade away after most of its frontbench, including their leader, Danielle Smith, defected to the government’s side late last year (threehundredeight.com/2014/12/the-polls-in-alberta-as-wildrose.htm). Premier Jim Prentice, who first seemed to have solved his party’s ‘Wildrose problem’, seemed to have fatally misjudged the situation when he called the election, just 9 days after Brian Jean was elected as Wildrose’s new leader. NDP’s Notley is also new, having been elected leader in October. NDP has surged in recent polls, which put the Progressive Conservatives in third place in the popular vote. Personally I think it likely that this will soon become a two-horse race between Wildrose and the NDP, but who knows… Either way, this is shaping up to be a very interesting vote, and a historic one for the province.

    • The Alberta Liberals also look set to win their lowest vote share since 1982; presumably, Liberal voters have switched to the NDP, rather than ‘wasting their votes’ on the Liberals.

      • From what I’ve seen, it’s not quite so simple. The most recent polling showed that the Liberals dropped from 10% to 4% between two weeks ago and last week. In the same time period, the PCs and NDP each went up one point and Wildrose went up 4 points. It’s highly unlikely that 2/3 of Liberal deserters went to Wildrose, but it appears to be a more complicated phenomenon than just a Liberal-to-NDP swing.

        In the 2012 campaign, the Liberals lost 63% of their vote from 2008, which largely appeared to be Liberals tactically voting Tory to keep Wildrose out. I would suspect that many of those people never came back to the Grits.

        The PCs are definitely within striking distance, even though the current ThreeHundredEight projection has them taking just 10 seats (none of them with a swing-adjusted projected margin large enough to call safe). A swing of just a couple of points would put them in the running for at least the Official Opposition, if not a (likely minority) government; on the other hand, if the current trend continues, the PCs could theoretically be wiped out entirely.

        The only leaders’ debate begins in around an hour (I believe it is being livestreamed by GlobalTV). Brian Jean, the Wildrose leader, is virtually unknown (I believe he’s been leader for three weeks) and the debate may be a make-or-break event: a successful performance may win him a majority government, while a weak performance could open the doors either to a PC resurgence or what a month ago would have sounded impossible–an NDP government in Alberta.

        It is quite incredible that, if there is a change of government, it will be just the fourth time that has happened in the past hundred and ten years. No Alberta government has served less than fourteen years.

    • Looking at the numbers (using uniform swings within Calgary, Edmonton, and Rest of Alberta), while a two-horse race for the popular vote is quite possible, I don’t know if it can happen in the race for seats. The NDP vote is massively concentrated in Edmonton (ThreeHundredEight has the NDP sweeping every Edmonton seat, most by lopsided margins), which hurts them in the race for 44 seats. They trail by an insurmountable margin in most rural ridings, and the PCs staying at 25-30% is the only thing making the Calgary ridings competitive. If the PCs do collapse, even by just a couple points, that will almost certainly result in a Wildrose majority government.

  21. They are calling this the Star Trek election: to boldly go where Alberta has never gone before.

    We may not know until election day whether the NDP has pockets of enough strength in downtown Calgary, in Lethbridge, and in the North, to break out of their new Edmonton stronghold. “The gender thing is at work here too. Many women, and plenty of Alberta men, too, would love to see a strong, popular female leader rise from the career implosions of Smith and former Tory Premier Alison Redford. That dynamic makes Notley virtually immune to personal attack.”

  22. Prentice certainly tried his best to have hit Notley hard (they apparently don’t read the papers), but all he appears to have done is shoot himself in the foot by condescendingly remarking that “math is hard” while talking about an error in the NDP platform. Wildrose’s leader basically repeated “no new taxes” for an hour and a half (that is not hyperbole–he probably used that phrase or a variant of it 50 times), though he may make the news for admitting that climate change is actually a thing. The Liberal leader may as well have not been there, though he did suggest openness to serving in a coalition with the NDP.

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why Prentice’s people thought it would be a good idea to go after Notley (public polling as the NDP’s “won’t change my mind” at 81%, the highest of all parties) while ignoring Jean. They may have assumed that if people were going to go Wildrose it already would have happened. Whatever their rationale, it does not appear to have been successful–Global’s non-scientific post debate poll had Notley the winner with around 75% of the votes.

    I would be shocked if the NDP does not get a decent pump at the expense of the Tories; the question is really whether it’s going to hit the Calgary ridings where the NDP can use the votes.

      • That is what I originally thought…if by “Liberals” we mean the general centrist group that voted Liberal up to 2008, Tory in 2012, and who have been leaning NDP this year. The pundits seem to think he was trying to make Notley the boogeywoman to attract errant Wildrose voters. I don’t think he’s been particularly successful at making her seem extremist, and if he does pull it off, he might actually have the effect of pushing PC voters into Wildrose’s hands instead and resulting in single-digit seats for the PCs.

        I’m not sure how wrong the polls were in 2012…I think the difference is attributable to “Blue Liberals” voting tactically for the Tories to keep Wildrose out, a trend that only emerged in the last 72 hours or so of the campaign. Of course, it’s also possible that the polls could be wrong a la British Columbia.

  23. I definitely think we will see “Orange Liberals.” Unfortunately the polls don’t seem to be asking about how people voted in the 2012 election, let alone the 2008 election or what party they normally lean toward. Given the size of the NDP’s growth though, it’s possible that there will not only be a sizeable group of Orange Liberals but also quite a few Orange Tories who are at least temporarily abandoning the PCs.

    It’s also possible that this week’s polling will suggest that the NDP bump is only ephemeral and that this is actually a Tory-Wildrose race.

      • A very well-known concept in Canada, except we used to call them “Red Tories.” There is a whole Wikipedia article on them. In the 2011 federal election, the final poll before the election showed 23% of Conservative voters had the NDP as their second choice, 18% Liberal, 9% Green, 47% no second choice. (Those 23% were not all Red Tories, many in the West were populists.) The latest poll Alberta poll shows a smaller group, only 9% of federal Conservative voters plan to vote for Rachel.

  24. Today’s Leger/Calgary Herald/Edmonton Journal poll has the NDP winning 60% of 2012 Liberal voters and 30% of 2012 Tory voters (as well as 94% of 2012 NDP voters). I would think that most of that 30% were 2008 Liberal voters, but I could be mistaken.

    This is the second poll in a week to show the NDP with a sizeable lead, though this one notably has Wildrose in third in all three regions (Calgary, Edmonton, and West), which suggests that Prentice’s “make this an NDP vs. PC election” strategy may be working.

    • …and the Return on Insight/CBC poll shows virtually the exact same numbers. It would appear as if the people of Alberta really are on the cusp of throwing the PCs out.

  25. “The question is whether we’ve gone from this anger with the Tories to rejecting the Tories,” Mount Royal University political scientist David Taras said. “That’s what this poll shows, and the rejection now has a direction.

    Taras said polls that show growing NDP support are dangerous for Tories because they “legitimize” the decision to vote NDP.

    “There have always been social barriers in Alberta,” Taras said. “You didn’t want to say you weren’t going to vote for (former premier Ralph) Klein. It was something you would never say, socially.” Polls can change that, he said.

    “All of the sudden, they come out of the woodwork and say, ‘Geez, it’s OK to vote NDP. … I can say it. I can tell my friends.’ ”

  26. The latest poll projects an NDP majority. A typical comment: “Notley is extremely likable, it’s hard to launch a campaign of fear when it’s the person doing the fear mongering that the people are afraid of.”

    • I didn’t think it was possible, but the PCs have managed to implode even further today, the day before the election. In a case which had been brewing under the surface for some time, a judge has ended a publication ban on the sordid details of the domestic abuse allegations surrounding the (now former) Justice Minister.

      Also, an unsubstantiated twitter rumor is claiming that Prentice’s internal polling has him trailing in his own riding (which he won in an October by-election with 58%).

      The PCs were in single digits in the 308 projection before this. At this point, I think it is legitimate to ask whether they will win any seats at all or will be wiped out like the United Farmers in 1935. It is also, however, not out of the realm of possibility that they win enough three-way races outside Edmonton to hang on to power.

  27. Pingback: Alberta 2015 election | Fruits and Votes

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