New poll shows PCs and Wildrose tied in support among Alberta voters

The Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party are tied for support among Alberta voters, each with 24 per cent, according to an opinion poll released Tuesday.

Albertans likely reacting to recent budget, says pollster

With Albertans headed to the polls next month, a recent poll suggested Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservatives were a dead heat with the Wildrose Party, both with 24 per cent support. (CBC)

The Progressive Conservatives and Wildrose Party are tied for support among Alberta voters, each with 24 per cent, according to a new poll released today.

Premier Jim Prentice shrugged off the poll, saying he is going to focus on governing.

"I don't intend to make choices based on polling. I intend to make choices based on what's in the best interest of our province," he said.

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, the NDP are in the lead with 35 per cent, more than double the province-wide support of 15 per cent.

NDP leader Rachel Notley said the rising poll numbers reinforce what her candidates are telling her — that voters looking at her party.

"What they're telling us from their work on the doorsteps, in their conversations with Albertans, is that yes, we have a growing amount of support for the NDP, not just in Edmonton, but in Calgary and in Lethbridge and in other parts of the province as well," she said.

The poll of 3,067 Albertans was done by Mainstreet Technologies on March 29, and carries an overall margin of plus or minus 1.8 per cent.

"Time will tell if this reaction to the new tax measures will have a lasting effect on public opinion or if it is just a temporary effect," said Quito Maggi, president of Mainstreet Technologies, a research firm.

Reacting to budget

"It is certainly a drastic change from where we saw public opinion just a few months ago," said Maggi.

"The reaction to this budget, especially the unpopularity of the health care tax has evaporated the lead enjoyed by the PC party last December to a neck and neck race with the Wildrose," added Maggi.  

"The good news for the Premier is that 20 per cent of Albertans are undecided on the budget and there is still time for the Premier and PC caucus to convince voters that the budget measures are both necessary and the best plan for the Province."

Former PC MLA and cabinet minister Doug Griffiths told CBC News that the poll is likely cause for concern among his former colleagues. However, he says it is also not unexpected in the wake of last week's budget.

"I'm sure that the poll results made the Tories a bit nervous. But they are also planning in and factoring the budget and the bad news that goes with that," he said. 

"And really if you're planning a campaign strategy, you want to hit a low spot and have momentum coming up. I don't imagine they're too nervous about it," added Griffiths, who left the caucus in January. 

Highlights from the poll:

  • The NDP lead in Edmonton rises to 43 per cent from 35 per cent when you exclude undecided voters. (35 per cent with undecided, 43 per cent among decided only).
  • Among decided, total approval of the budget is 40 per cent and total disapproval is 60 per cent.
  • 48 per cent disapprove of the new health premiums; 46 per cent disapprove of the new fuel surcharge.
  • 64 per cent approve of tax increases for higher earners; 48 per cent approve of moving to a progressive income tax.