The Conservative vote in Alberta has declined. here’s why

Sheila Juhlin has made Alberta home for most of her life. She has voted Conservative in almost every federal election for decades, but this time she hesitated.

Juhlin reflected on his priorities: the economy, electoral reform, better representation in parliament for the West.

“Am I continuing to do what I’ve always done?” Will it do something for Alberta? ” she said.

“They say continuing the same behavior and expecting different results is a sign of insanity.”

She walked into the voting booth and checked the box next to the Maverick Party candidate.

More than 365,000 other Albertans who voted for the Conservative Party in 2019 also parked their votes elsewhere or did not vote at all at that time.

The Conservatives won 69% of the province’s vote in the 2019 election. In last week’s results, they lost 14 points, to 55%.

A Maverick Party sign along a highway in British Columbia. In Alberta, the party won just over one percent of the popular vote in its first election. (Andrew Kurjata / CBC)

Drop in support for conservatives

The NDP and the Liberals won 7.5% and nearly 2%, respectively. The People’s Party of Canada jumped five percent. The Maverick Party, in its first election, won just over one percent of the popular vote.

The drop in support only cost the Conservatives three more seats this election – they hold 30 of 34 seats in Alberta, while the Liberals and NDP each have two – but analysts say it sends the message that what worked for the party in Alberta might not work. more.

“There is absolutely a discussion that needs to take place over the collapse of support,” Michael Solberg, director of New West Public Affairs, told CBC News.

“I think the real concern is how you bring these [conservative voters] in the big fold of the tent. “

The Conservatives have lost their support on both sides of the political spectrum. The Liberals, NDP, PPC and Mavericks garnered 263,000 more Alberta votes than in the previous election, while the turnout fell 2% (roughly 141,000 votes lower).

“It seems funny to think that there would be a lot of Tory / NDP mixers in Alberta, but it looks like there probably has been some movement between Tories, NDP and Liberals,” Janet’s Janet Brown said. Brown Opinion Research.

She pointed out that disenchanted Conservative voters are generally more likely to stay home than change their vote, but this election was different.

“[They] would have lost votes on the far right to the Maverick Party or the People’s Party. I think Erin O’Toole’s biggest concern, however, is probably not the votes that went that way. These are the votes that went to the centrist parties, despite its efforts to have a more centrist message. “

In the spring, research conducted for CBC News showed only 11 percent of respondents said they were very impressed with Erin O’Toole (Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press)

Ambivalence on O’Toole

O’Toole did not enjoy great popularity in Alberta.

In the spring, rResearch conducted for CBC News showed that only 11 percent of respondents said they were very impressed with the Tory leader, which is lower than the endorsement of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. Most of it was ambivalent about O’Toole, giving him an average rating.

His stance in favor of a carbon tax and his murky communication about gun regulation during the election intrigued many right-wing Alberta voters. On the left, while this CPC platform was more progressive than the previous one, the revisions of its climate plan were not as favorable as the other parties.

“The Conservatives currently have a branding problem at the federal level. I don’t think they fully know what they are or who they stand for,” Solberg said.

And their opponents have tried to fill these identity gaps for voters by linking the federal Conservatives to their provincial cousins, who are grappling with their own problems.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks at a press conference in Edmonton on February 24, 2020. O’Toole praised Kenney on his handling of the pandemic shortly before Alberta took a plunge in its fourth wave. (Jason Franson / The Canadian Press)

The Kenney factor

Several campaign attack ads were launched, linking O’Toole to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

If the latter – who approved of O’Toole – can’t get COVID-19 under control, how could you trust the former to be any different, they argued.

The CPC leader praised Kenney’s handling of the pandemic shortly before Alberta plunged into the most intense wave yet. The Prime Minister’s popularity is also the lowest in the country.

“I think it would be naive to say that the hesitations of the united Conservative government here have not aroused anguish, both on the far right… and in this more progressive vote,” Solberg said.

And Brown agrees.

“Perhaps it was the fate of the provincial Conservatives that lowered the federal Conservative vote.”

The Conservatives still won ridings with huge margins, which the other parties combined could not touch. Poll analysts have estimated that the CCP could drop 25-30% below its 2019 vote share without costing more than a handful of seats.

But there’s a change happening in the province that researchers say would be wise to note.

NDP candidate Blake Desjarlais, right, takes a photo with NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and his supporters at a campaign rally in Edmonton in August. The 27-year-old NDP candidate won in Edmonton-Griesbach, the first time someone who was not a Conservative won the riding. (Paul Chiasson / The Canadian Press)

Weigh the compromise

“We have an unusual situation in Alberta for all kinds of reasons. The NDP vote has increased more than that of the Liberals. Yes, there is a loss with the Conservatives. There is also a win for the NDP, ”said Lori Williams, political scientist at Mount Royal University.

“NDP and Liberal voters were more motivated to vote in the last election in Alberta.

And the PPC grabbed the votes from the other side, winning over seven percent of the vote and finishing second in several ridings in Alberta.

“This is the age-old compromise for the Tories. How do you keep the far right happy while attracting more centrist voters? And in the end, I think it was probably an acceptable compromise for Erin O’Toole,” said Brown.

The leader of the Conservative Party would be unhappy to ignore Alberta and the voices here. We see what the result is when this happens.– Michael Solberg, New West Public Affairs

The balance for the leader, if he remains in that position, is to keep Alberta on the side while wooing votes in seat-rich provinces, a strategy that will not come without sacrifice on the Prairies, according to these reports. experts.

Solberg says the party needs to tackle long-standing regional and ideological rifts.

“The leader of the Conservative Party would be unhappy to ignore Alberta and the voices here. We see what the result is when that happens.”

And Juhlin says that’s why his vote shifted this election.

“The way they do things doesn’t meet everyone’s needs,” Juhlin concluded. “This is the way to send a message that this standard is not good enough.”

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