While news about Alison Redford’s political troubles continue to be featured prominently in news coverage in Alberta, a Calgary pollster says the embattled premier’s supporters have been standing up for her on social media.
Bruce Cameron, the president of Return On Insight, has been tracking posts on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook about Redford and her Progressive Conservative government.
He said there’s a huge discussion happening, and it’s not all directed against Redford.
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“The general tone of the conversation isn’t as apocalyptic as the media initially made it out to be,” he said. “So it’s not as negative as many of the polls make it out to be.”
Cameron said he has noted upwards of 30,000 conversations happening on social media, not just about Redford and her political woes but about the Alberta government and the state of the provincial economy.
Strong supporters of Redford have been making their views known online even as bold talk from detractors has quieted down a bit, Cameron said.
He said it was interesting to watch as a rumoured mutiny of up to 20 MLAs shrank to 10 and then just two members actually bolted from the Tory caucus. The impulse to hold onto power might explain it, he said.
“I think that the PC party itself, the members, understand that disunity would equal dismemberment by the Wildrose,” he said. “Rightly or wrongly, the instinct is to close ranks.”
However, the humbling spectacle of Redford being given a work plan by PC president Jim McCormick after a weekend meeting with the party’s executives was unprecedented, Cameron said.
“It’s hard to imagine Ed Stelmach or Ralph Klein for that matter, standing there as the party president basically addresses him in a real awkward, awkward moment.”
Cameron said there appears to be a power struggle developing between the party’s top brass and the premier, with Redford seeming to lose authority over who should be the next executive director.
“No matter how you slice it, it looks like basically the party is taking back power from the premier,” he said.
Female supporters upset with treatment
On social media sites, Cameron said he has noticed many Redford backers, particularly women, are upset with the way the premier appeared to be put through hoops by her party.
“Certainly some female supporters online that we’ve picked up really don’t like that image,” he said.
While usually the gender balance on Twitter is about two thirds men, one third women, in discussions about Redford, more women are taking part, Cameron said.
“When we do see more women involved in the conversation, it ends up becoming more positive for the premier,” he said.