About 150 people showed up at a rally in Edmonton Thursday night for Wild Rose Alliance leadership candidate Danielle Smith on the heels of a poll that shows support for the new party is growing.
"I really feel like they care about me," said Gina Makowsky, 30, who switched her support from the Progressive Conservatives to the right-wing Wild Rose Alliance party two months ago.
Makowsky and her husband, both university graduates, are struggling to raise their family, she said.
"You're always kind of thinking about when things will improve or how will I ever get ahead, in a province that seems to be losing its advantage."
On Oct. 17, the Wildrose Alliance party is holding a vote to find a new leader. Smith, 38, is running for the leadership along with Mark Dyrholm.
The party's has been attracting a great deal of attention ever since mid-September when former Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman won a byelection in Calgary-Glenmore to fill a seat formerly held by Tory cabinet minister Ron Stevens, who stepped down to become an Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Justice.
Smith's rally attracted both party supporters and Progressive Conservative voters interested in what she had to say.
Speaking to a reporters before the rally, Smith said the Wildrose Alliance will also appeal to voters who traditionally vote Liberal.
"What we see with the current government is there's not a whole lot of consultation going on," she said.
"What we offer is an avenue for people to be heard. And I think that's going to resonate regardless of where you happen to live."
Although many of the people at Thursday's rally were older, Smith says that's because younger voters gather information differently.
"The blogs have been talking about our race from the beginning, both my rival and I have Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts," she said.
On CBC Radio's Wildrose noon show Thursday, Dyrholm said the race is pushing the party into spotlight.
"So going forward, we need both of us, but the question becomes who should have the rudder in the leadership," he said.
A poll released earlier this week by Faron Ellis, a professor at Lethbridge College and the Citizen Society Research Lab, also suggests the party's fortunes are on the rise.
The Wildrose Alliance had the support of 21.5 percent of people contacted in the telephone survey — a figure that puts them in a statistical second place tie with the Alberta Liberals at 20.8 percent.
The Progressive Conservatives were first, with the support of 38.4 percent polled.
Under Ellis' supervision, students at Lethbridge College and Athabasca University contacted 1,201 adult Albertans by phone between Oct. 3 and Oct. 5. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.