UCP pummelled on voter support and budget: poll

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A governing UCP battered by controversy trails the NDP by a whopping two-to-one margin, according to a recent poll.

And by a 14-point margin, more Albertans disapprove of the UCP government’s recent budget than support it, says the Leger online survey of 1,001 Albertans conducted March 5-8.

The poll found 40 per cent support for Rachel Notley’s NDP compared to 20 per cent for the governing UCP with the opposition party leading in all areas of the province.

While the NDP predictably dominated in the Edmonton region with 49 per cent support versus 14 per cent for the Tories, it’s their strength in Calgary and rural areas that’s noteworthy, said Leger’s Executive Vice-President Ian Large.

“The UCP led in rural areas and Calgary but that seems to have receded, but there’s still a large number of undecideds,” said Large, noting 27 per cent of respondents didn’t give an opinion province wide, that number rising to 32 per cent in areas outside the two large cities.

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People will forget the missteps because they get to go dancing.

Ian Large

In the Calgary area, the NDP garnered 36 per cent of support versus 34 per cent for the UCP, which trailed their opposition foes 34 per cent to 24 per cent in rural Alberta.

The government’s run into a political wood chipper with its handling of MLAs taking pandemic beach trips, a faltering economy and approval of coal mining in the Rockies’ eastern slopes.

But given there’s two years until the next provincial election and probably brighter days ahead with the COVID-19 pandemic set to fade, Large said those voter trends are hardly carved in stone.

“What this government gets to own is the vaccination program which is going quite well and the economic recovery which is coming,” he said.

“People will forget the missteps because they get to go dancing.”

But for now at least, it’s difficult for the Kenney government to banish those dark political clouds.

Though there’s no majority opinion on last month’s 2021-2022 economic blueprint, 41 per cent of respondents said they disapprove of it while 27 per cent gave their support.

But while only 4 per cent of those polled strongly approve of the budget, those staunchly opposed numbered 20 per cent.

It’s the fruit of a largely status-quo budget with a projected $18.2 billion deficit for the coming year that pleased few on the left or right of the political spectrum, said Large.

“If you were looking for spending cuts or wrestling the deficit, you didn’t see that and if you were hoping for support for building roads or education, you wouldn’t see that either,” he said.

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To many Albertans, of whom 32 per cent didn’t know or preferred not to answer, the budget was a non-event, said Large.

“This one kind of came and went – nobody really noticed,” he said.

More noticeable, said Large, is the 33 per support for a provincial sales tax compared to 59 per cent opposed to one, though the vast majority of the latter were strongly against it.

  1. A recent poll suggests Albertans are warming to the idea of a sales tax, although the majority isn't on board yet.

    Younger Albertans more open to a provincial sales tax: poll

  2. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

    Braid: Kenney is stuck in an alternate universe of debt — and, possibly, a new sales tax

“Five years ago, it would have been 80 per cent opposed but this has been a conversation for decades in Alberta,” he said.

“And when you blow past an $18 billion deficit, this is an option for more of us.”

Of those surveyed, 69 per cent agreed the government would have to cut spending next year while 51 per cent said the province was right not to cut spending in its latest budget.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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