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Albertans 'surprised, hopeful' after vaulting NDP to power, survey suggests

Most Albertans aren’t plagued by second thoughts after decisively handing the reins of power to the NDP in last week’s historic provincial election, a new survey suggests.

Abacus Data poll indicates historic NDP win built on broad new consensus

NDP leader Rachel Notley speaks on stage after being named Alberta's new premier in Edmonton on May 5. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Most Albertans aren't plagued by second thoughts after decisively handing the reins of power to the NDP in last week's historic provincial election, a new survey suggests.

The Ottawa-based Abacus Data poll of 1,000 Albertans — conducted from May 6, the day after the vote, until May 11 — found that 40 per cent of respondents are "accepting" of the result, 20 per cent are "happy" and 17 per cent "delighted."

Only nine per cent said they are "upset," and 15 per cent said they are "unhappy."

"The responses reveal a population that expresses more surprise, happiness and hopefulness than dismay or fear," Abacus pollsters Bruce Anderson and David Coletto said in a release.

The May 5 vote saw Rachel Notley's NDP sweep to power with a majority government, ending more than four decades of Tory rule in Alberta.

New consensus

Support for the Progressive Conservative Party collapsed, with more than half of those who voted PC in the last vote abandoning the party — 31 per cent to the NDP and 17 per cent to the Wildrose Party, the poll suggests.

The NDP victory was built on a new consensus across all demographic groups, the pollsters say.

The NDP got the most votes among both men and women, across all income and education levels, among private and public sector workers and all age groups up to 60, the poll indicates.

The NDP dominated in urban ridings, picking up 43 per cent of the vote, compared with 28 per cent for the PCs and 20 per cent for the Wildrose.

The NDP only trailed in two groups — getting 33 per cent of the rural vote compared with 39 per cent for the Wildrose, and 36 per cent of self-employed workers compared with 41 per cent for the Wildrose.

"That a broad cross-section of Alberta voters could vote NDP may have seemed unlikely in the past, but this breakthrough has the potential to change the paradigm in the future," Anderson and Coletto wrote in their report.

The poll suggests a majority of Albertans — even those who did not vote for the NDP — can imagine voting for the party in the future if they do a good job.

And 52 per cent of respondents say they expect the Notley team will provide better government than the PCs.

Conservative province?

The survey demonstrates that Alberta's reputation as an unwavering bastion of conservatism needs to be replaced with a more nuanced view, the pollsters say.

"Undoubtedly, many of these voters will be looking for pragmatic rather than ideological choices, and in a difficult economic and fiscal context, maintaining this level of positive feeling among voters will not be easy," they said.

"But the new premier starts with much more 'benefit of the doubt' than might have been expected."

The survey was conducted online with 1,000 Albertans aged 18 and over from May 6 to 11.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys, Abacus says.

But the margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. 

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