The brand new United Conservative Party would form a majority government in Alberta if an election were held today, according to a poll released Tuesday.
The United Conservative Party (UCP) came into being just over a week ago when members of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties voted overwhelmingly to fold their tents and join forces to take on the NDP in the 2019 election.
The poll by Mainstreet suggests that was a smart move.
It found that the UCP has the support of 57 per cent of Albertans among decided and leaning voters.
The NDP are at 29 per cent, the Alberta Party at nine per cent and the Alberta Liberals round out the contenders at four per cent.
"With intense media attention being paid to both the recent PC leadership contest and the unity votes, the immediate reaction of Alberta voters appears to be favourable to the UCP and points to a likely majority government for the new party," the polling firm said in a release.
The poll found that one side-effect of the new unity on the right appears to be a spike in the number of undecided voters.
In April, 15 per cent of voters said they were undecided. That number has now nearly doubled to 27 per cent.
The Mainstreet pollsters also caution that the UCP risks losing some of its lustre if its leadership contest — between Brian Jean, Jason Kenney and Doug Schweitzer, so far — turns out to be a divisive one.
"A spirited contest can lead to increased excitement and support, but it can also have a negative effect on candidates," Mainstreet said.
"These numbers point to a majority government in the next election, but Rachel Notley and the NDP have time on their side. That combined with renewed strength in the economy in Alberta means a unified conservative party cannot take anything for granted leading up to the 2019 election."
Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said the poll numbers aren't particularly surprising but nevertheless must be encouraging for the newly minted party.
Still, he said it's far too early to jump to conclusions about the outcome of a 2019 provincial election.
"It's good news for the UCP, but I wouldn't start getting new drapes for the premier's office quite yet," Bratt said.
"An election is still two years away, and a lot can happen in that two-year time period. We still don't see a leader yet. We still don't see policies."
NDP still leads in Edmonton
Even though the poll indicates a 12-percentage-point drop in provincewide support for the NDP compared to the 2015 election results, it suggests the party still has an eight-point edge over the UCP in Edmonton — 47 per cent to 39 per cent.
In Calgary, the poll shows 50 per cent of voters support the UCP and 32 per cent favour the NDP.
Outside the two major cities, the UCP has the support of 68 per cent of voters while just 20 per cent support the NDP.
"With continued strength in Edmonton, the 21-seat sweep that the NDP saw in the 2015 election could be repeated in 2019. In Calgary, it is unlikely that the NDP could hold all the gains made in 2015, but some held seats could remain competitive," Mainstreet said.
"It is in the rest of Alberta that the NDP would likely see the most significant losses."
The poll surveyed a random sample of 2,100 Albertans from July 27 to 28 on landlines and cellphones, using demographic information to targets based on the 2016 census, Mainstreet said.
A probabilistic sample of this size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 2.14 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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