This provincial election Alberta voters are faced with an unusual choice – return the sitting premier or bring back a previous one.
This provincial election Alberta voters are faced with an unusual choice – return the sitting premier or bring back a previous one. Early polls suggested that this would be a close race, Abacus Data had the parties in a deadlock, with the UCP and NDP both at 36% and undecided voters at 22% right before the write was dropped. It appeared that the election would be decided by the campaigns’ ability to court undecided voters and motivate their supporters.
The first three weeks of the campaign have been eventful, kicking off with a $1.2-billion deal to replace Calgary’s Saddledome. This has been seen as a shrewd political maneuver on Premier Smith’s part as, according to Angus Reid, the results of the election “hinge significantly” on ridings Calgary and the turnout of younger voters across the province.
Then, less than a week into the campaign, Premier Smith declared a state of emergency as nearly 100 fires burned across the province. More than ten days later, nearly 20,000 people are out of their homes, and according to the Alberta Wildfire dashboard, 89 active wildfires burn in the province, 25 of which are out of control. The management of this crisis has become an election issue unto itself.
With Advanced Polls opening May 23, many Albertans are preparing to cast their ballots. Some thought voters might make their decision based on the leaders’ debate, in fact a Global/Ipsos poll found that 43% of respondents said the televised leaders debate “will be an important factor in my vote decision.” However, there was no clear debate winner. Both party leaders performed well, casting doubt on their opponent and focusing on the issues that put them in the strongest electoral position. UCP’s Danielle Smith focused on the economy and damage the NDP might do to their thriving province. Notley trying to persuade Albertans Smith cannot be trusted but the NDP can be trusted to both manage Alberta’s economy and invest in social services.
A recent Abacus Data poll showed the NDP is gaining traction, leading with 46%. The swing in support may come from a group pollster David Coletto has dubbed “reluctant UCPers” Albertans who voted UCP in 2019 but are now undecided or voting for another party. It remains to be seen if this lead with solidify and turn into electoral victory. The Alberta election is still a close race and anything can happen in the final ten days.