Calgary

PCs could win next Alberta election with Jason Kenney at helm, Insights West poll suggests

While Albertans are divided on the prospect of Jason Kenney becoming the next head of government, a new poll suggests the Progressive Conservatives could edge out the governing NDP with him leading the party.

But Albertans divided on prospect of Kenney as premier

Calgary-Midnapore MP Jason Kenney has announced he intends to run for leader of the Progressive Conservatives with the goal of uniting Alberta's political right. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Albertans are divided on the prospect of Jason Kenney becoming the next head of government, but a new poll suggests the Progressive Conservatives could edge out the governing NDP with him leading the party.

"The numbers suggest that a Kenney-led PC Party would emerge as the main rival for the incumbent NDP in the next provincial election," said Mario Canseco, vice-president of public affairs at Insights West, which conducted the online poll.

With Kenney as leader, the PCs hold a six-point edge over the NDP (32 to 26 per cent), and the Wildrose Party comes in a close third (24 per cent), the poll suggests.

Kenney, who represents the riding of Calgary-Midnapore in the House of Commons, announced last week his plan to leave federal politics, seek the vacant Progressive Conservative leadership in Alberta, and facilitate a merger with the rival right-wing Wildrose Party.

Views on Jason Kenney's PC leadership bid. (Insights West)

Albertans are split on whether they would like to see Kenney as premier, with one third (34 per cent) backing the longtime Calgary MP while 37 per cent do not, according to the poll.

That suggests "a lot of ambivalence" about Kenney as a possible leader, according to Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams, who said it's something he'll have to address in his quest to take the helm of the PC Party.

"It suggests Jason Kenny has his work cut out for him," she said.

"He's well known and widely known, but there are enough questions about what is known about him that people aren't yet sure that they want him to be the premier of the province. So those questions are going to have to be addressed and answered."

While Kenney could boost the PCs by the next election, the Wildrose is ahead of all rivals in current voting intention, the poll suggests. Some 35 per cent of decided voters indicated they would vote for Wildrose if an election took place tomorrow.

The governing NDP is second with 26 per cent, followed by the PCs with 22 per cent, the Liberal Party with 11 per cent and the Alberta Party with one per cent.

Williams said polls like these should be taken with a grain of salt, however, when trying to forecast events in the distant political future.

"The [PC] leadership contest hasn't really started in earnest. It's the summertime. The next election is almost three years away, and a lot can happen between now and then," she said.

The online poll was conducted July 9-12 among a representative sample of 601 Albertan adults. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.

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