Alberta election poll: Economy, jobs top election issue, says ROI

The latest results from an exclusive CBC poll show the number one issue for Alberta voters is the economy.

Return On Insight polling shows government accountability also high priority

An Alberta pollster predicts the economy will be the main focus of the PC party campaign as election day on Tuesday approaches. (Norm Betts/Bloomberg)

The latest results from an exclusive CBC poll show the top issue for Alberta voters is the economy.

"Creating jobs and keeping the economy strong is something that most Albertans want to focus on," said Bruce Cameron, president of Return On Insight (ROI).

Cameron believes the Tories are going to press the issue relentlessly on the last weekend of the campaign.

The poll was conduected through live operator telephone surveys from April 25-28 with a representative cross section of adult Albertans in Calgary, Edmonton and areas outside the two major cities in Alberta. (ROI)

When asked to choose a top issue, Albertans rated government accountability as second, which also ranked high with Albertans on Vote Compass.

Health care and education also ranked high, but taxes were lower down on the priority list.

Final data of the poll was computer weighted to reflect the correct proportion of respondents by age, based on Statistics Canada data. (ROI)

That subject has been top of mind for Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean. Cameron believes the party's campaign has stalled, and may even be sliding backwards, because it has focused too much on rhetoric around taxes.

Jean has pointed multiple times to the 59 new taxes for Albertans included in the PC budget released in March.

Wildrose miscalculated, says pollster

Cameron says social media tracking has shown the Wildrose campaign will be tough to resurrect.

The majority of the party's support is concentrated in southern Alberta. Cameron believes it would have to sweep central and northern Alberta to make a break, but some of those ridings also have popular PC incumbents.

More than 750 people were polled. The data is accurate to within 3.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20. (ROI)

It's the NDP campaign that seems to be flourishing, with 44 per cent of Albertans polled by ROI saying the party has run the best campaign so far and has the support of 38 per cent of decided voters.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley was also given a 53-per cent approval rating — more than 20 points higher than PC leader Jim Prentice.

"They're big vote numbers, 38 per cent and this 53 per cent approval may not translate into as many seats as it typically would," said Cameron.

He believes that's why the PCs are now focusing on one clear question before election day: How would you feel about the NDP running the economy?

Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Prentice even used a major fundraising speech Thursday to attack the NDP as potential killers of jobs and investment.

The Flames factor

But Cameron says the Tories have other issues that may work in their favour.

He says that's because Notley's support in Edmonton is high, but Calgary is more of a challenge. 

Cameron says the PCs could hold on to a number of seats in the city for two reasons: voter engagement is lower and turnout will likely be lower too.

The reason? The Calgary Flames playoff run.

"The older voter, regardless of what the weather is or what hockey game is on, they're going to vote. The other voters maybe not, and so in a low turnout situation I would say it would favour the PCs."

The Flames playoff run seems to be a factor in the engagement of voters in Calgary. (ROI)

With files from CBC's John Archer, Rachel Maclean