Ideology not guiding Alberta voters, CBC poll shows

Whereas pitched battles over ideology tore families — and even countries — apart in the past, a new poll done for CBC News reveals only about one third of Albertans believe the left-right distinctions remains meaningful anymore.

Left-right political spectrum more important for men than women

Whereas pitched battles over ideology tore families — and even countries — apart in the past, a new poll done for CBC News reveals only about one third of Albertans believe the left-right distinction remains meaningful anymore.

For a majority of Albertans — 62 per cent — ideology likely won't play a role in deciding who to vote for in the coming spring election.

Return on Insight's (ROI) telephone survey for CBC found that the ideological left-right spectrum is somewhat more important to voters in Calgary, compared to Edmonton and voters outside Alberta's two major cities.

The poll also shows Wildrose supporters, and older voters, believe left-right is more meaningful.

As well, ideology tends to matter more to Alberta men at 41 per cent compared to women at 35 per cent.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi tells CBC News ideology plays a small role in his politics.

"Is clearing the snow properly left wing or right wing?" asks Nenshi. 

"I actually believe that ideology plays little, very little, role in the life of the average person ... the issues of ideology, I think, are really interesting to journalists and people in political science departments and to politicians. But they're not really that interesting to people in their everyday lives," Nenshi said.

Still, Calgarian Melissa McLeod says ideology influences how she votes.

"It definitely does for me. I'm governed by that," she told CBC News.

Many political analysts describe a narrowing of the ideological spectrum in Canada in recent years.

Political parties increasingly champion issues associated with the centre of politics.

David Taras, who holds Mount Royal University's Ralph Klein Chair in Media Studies, says Canadian politicians tend to avoid polarizing issues as well.

"We've had this national nervous breakdown over the constitution and the prospect of Quebec's separation and there are places that the government won't go," he says.

"If an issue is too divisive, it's not debated," he adds.

Taras speculates this avoidance of some issues may lead many people to tune out politicians and avoid voting.

Only 40 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in Alberta's last provincial election in 2008.

ROI's poll done for CBC surveyed 803 Albertans between January 25-31.

It's considered accurate within +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out 20.