Edmonton

Majority of UCP supporters and Albertans want new party leader, survey says

Alberta voters would be more inclined to cast a ballot for the United Conservative Party with a new leader, according to a new survey published Tuesday.

Nearly 4 in 10 Albertans more likely to vote for the UCP if Jason Kenney is gone, survey suggests

A new poll from ThinkHQ suggests more Albertans would vote for the UCP if Jason Kenney was no longer party leader. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Alberta voters would be more inclined to cast a ballot for the United Conservative Party with a new leader, according to a survey published Tuesday.

As Premier Jason Kenney heads into a party leadership review, nearly 40 per cent of adults surveyed said they'd be more likely to vote for the UCP in the next election with Kenney gone.

More than half of people who said they voted UCP in the 2019 provincial election said they'd be more likely to vote for the UCP with a new leader, the new survey said.

"I honestly was expecting his approval numbers to be going up and the race tightening, but it isn't," said Marc Henry, president of ThinkHQ Public Affairs, which conducted the online survey of 1,135 Albertans.

The survey suggests the NDP has an edge, with 41 per cent saying they'd lean toward voting for the New Democrats were an election held today, compared to 30 per cent who would be more likely to vote UCP. Much of that NDP support comes from residents of Calgary and Edmonton.

Other recent polls have found a narrower margin of support between the two parties.

Henry said his company's surveys show that for the past four months, Albertans' appetite to replace Kenney as party leader has hovered consistently above 60 per cent.

"Oil prices are way up and revenues are way up for the province, and employment's getting better, and the economy's doing better, and there's a fight brewing with Trudeau, and you know, these are all forces that typically help a premier in Alberta," Henry said.

Two-thirds of Albertans surveyed disapproved of the job Kenney is doing as party leader.

Henry said the survey doesn't give insight into how UCP members might vote in the leadership review, but does paint a picture about how Albertans may react to the result.

When asked for reaction to the survey, Harrison Fleming, a spokesperson for Kenney's leadership campaign, said in an email said they are encouraged by feedback they're hearing from grassroots conservatives and Albertans.

"The premier looks forward to continuing the good work of Alberta's economic recovery," Fleming wrote.

Wildrose finds support

The survey results suggest the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta has become a home for conservatives disenchanted with Kenney.

About a tenth of survey respondents said they intended to vote Wildrose in the next election. Nearly half of those potential Wildrose voters said they'd be more likely to vote for the UCP if Kenney was gone.

There are no margins of error for panel-based online surveys, but the margin of error of a comparable survey drawn from a random sample of respondents would be plus or minus 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The ThinkHQ results echo some other recent surveys that also found Kenney remains relatively unpopular compared to premiers in other provinces.

An Angus Reid Institute survey in mid-March found Kenney's approval had risen four percentage points to 30 per cent.

A Janet Brown poll leaked last month found the premier's approval rating had climbed to 36 per cent from a low of 19 per cent, but 60 per cent still disapproved of his performance.

Brown's poll also found the UCP was leading the NDP by four points in vote intention, but that 14 per cent of respondents didn't express a choice.

A Yorkville Strategies phone survey of 600 Albertans published last month suggested 60 per cent of UCP supporters wanted to retain Kenney as party leader and 33 per cent wanted a new leader — the opposite of the ThinkHQ result.

Yorkville results suggest 44 per cent of voters would choose a Kenney-led UCP government, and 39 per cent would vote for Rachel Notley's NDP.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janet French

Provincial affairs reporter

Janet French covers the Alberta Legislature for CBC Edmonton. She previously spent 15 years working at newspapers, including the Edmonton Journal and Saskatoon StarPhoenix. You can reach her at janet.french@cbc.ca.

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