We’ve had a couple of polls in the past few days that seem to indicate Albertans think Premier Ed Stelmach and his Tory caucus have passed their best-before date, are maybe even in a freefall, with or without a parachute.
What’s more, both these polls peg support for the “upstart” Wildrose Alliance Party at 22 per cent of decided voters.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t shake the feeling that if I wrote up a press release saying a new poll by the People’s Research Group, Agahnemilc Evad, president, showed the Wildrose Alliance was at 22 per cent of committed voters in Sturgeon County, I’d get the same kind of breathless coverage from the mainstream media. Never mind actually making the phone calls. (Course, I’d be dismissed as the crank I am if I said the same thing about the Bull Trout Social Democrats, but never mind.)
Last week’s big news poll was done by something called the Citizen Society Research Lab out of Lethbridge. This poll, based on calls between Oct. 3 and 5, concluded that the new right-wing party had surged in support and now enjoys the backing of those aforementioned 22 per cent of committed voters.
I mean, gee whiz! This put the WRAP ahead of the Liberals and far, far away from the poor beleaguered Prairie socialists of the NDP. Who could resist a yarn like that? With the WRAP’s by-election victory just behind us and the party’s leadership convention just ahead, not to mention Premier Ed Stelmach’s approval vote right after that, certainly not Alberta’s mainstream media!
But would you feel so enthusiastic about this yarn if you knew the political scientist that ran the polling group was a community college instructor who once published a poll in a goofy right-wing throwaway that claimed 36 per cent of Albertans believed “Western Canadians should begin to explore the idea of forming their own country”? Not me.
Well, that was in 2005, and they do say these things are accurate 19 times out of 20… But the same bunch has also produced a poll that said 19 per cent of Albertans backed the Alliance. The only thing being, of course, that that particular poll was conducted in 2002 and the Alliance in question was the Alberta Alliance. And we all know what’s happened since then.
As far as I can tell, no one in the mainstream media bothered to inform anyone of that history. But then, in their defence, maybe it wasn’t in the press release. Anyway, it keeps Lethbridge Community College students employed.
Today, along comes another poll by a group called Return on Insight that also says 22 per cent of Albertans support the WRAP. This one was based on calls made between Oct. 2 and 7.
This poll comes with a nice, full-colour, five-page media release that describes Return on Insight as “a new strategic research consultancy founded by Bruce Cameron.”
Who he? Mr. Cameron has lots of polling experience, according to the biography on his firm’s Website. And while according to the Calgary Herald he once worked for former Brooks MLA and minister Lyle Oberg, at least he doesn’t seem to have published any polls concluding that a majority of Albertans want to found a new nation or start worshipping Quetzalcoatl.
Still, you’ve got to wonder. Dissatisfaction with Ed Stelmach, I can see. The guy’s about as exciting as dirt, and he hasn’t made a confident move since the Bill 44 fiasco.
Still, I have trouble believing that, over night, 22 per cent of Albertans support a political entity so far to the right it wants to turn us loose with health care vouchers, ban collective bargaining, fully fund fundamentalist madrassas, shutter the Human Rights Commission and give away our oil and gas to multinational corporations for even less than a Stelmach Tory fire sale.
Is it just me, or would the rest of you also like to hear of some polling research from a company with a track record before we start jumping to conclusions? …or out of windows.
While the grownup pollsters are at it, maybe they could ask about the level of support for some known Wildrose policies, and not just the party name.
Angus? You there?