Alberta Votes

Stephen Mandel, Thomas Lukaszuk trail NDP, Gordon Dirks in 'dead heat,' polls say

Polls released on Monday suggest several cabinet ministers could be in trouble on election day.

Tory candidates quick to dismiss polls, Lukaszuk jokes only poll that matters is his mother's

Stephen Mandel, left, and Thomas Lukaszuk, right, are facing stiff battles in their Edmonton ridings. (CBC)

New polls released on Monday suggest several cabinet ministers could be in trouble on election day.

Two high-profile Tories in Edmonton appear to be trailing the NDP, and Gordon Dirks is in a dead heat with Alberta Party leader, Greg Clark.

"Ultimately, this is too close to call right now, the race is within the margin of error, and with voter turnout a mystery this could really go either way," said  David Valentin, vice-president of Mainstreet Technologies.

His company's poll suggests PC candidate Gordon Dirks, appointed last fall as education minister, leads in the riding of Calgary-Elbow by 30 per cent to 29 per cent among all voters, putting him in a statistical tie with Clark.

With 397 respondents, the poll carries a margin of error of 4.64 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

"I never pay attention really to my opponents or to polls," Dirks said when interviewed on Monday.

"My goal is to talk to every voter and share with them the balanced plan that we have that's not extreme one way or the other."

Mandel, Lukaszuk lagging behind NDP

Another poll, this one done by Abingdon Research, suggests Stephen Mandel and Thomas Lukaszuk are well behind the NDP candidates in their ridings.

"Two of the PC's biggest names in Edmonton are facing defeat at the hands of the NDP" said Hamish Marshall, Abingdon's chief research officer.

"Health minister and former mayor Stephen Mandel is far behind the NDP's Bob Turner in Edmonton Whitemud, and former deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk is even further behind NDP candidate Nicole Goehring."

(Abingdon Research )
(Abingdon Research)

Both Mandel and Lukaszuk were quick to dismiss the polls on Monday.

"Definitely this poll is not reflective of what I'm hearing from my constituents, and that's always been the case," said Lukaszuk, who joked that the only reliable poll is his mother.  

"This is not my first time to the rodeo, and those polls can be way off, sometimes in a positive direction, sometimes negative, but that's just the way it is," he said.

Lukaszuk has represented Edmonton-Castle Downs since 2001 and was acclaimed as the PC candidate in this election.

The one-time deputy premier has said in the past he doesn't take elections for granted, given his narrow win in 2004, when on election night he lost by five votes. A manual recount later dropped that figure to three ballots. Lukaszuk then filed for a judicial recount, which was granted and confirmed the Liberal candidate as the winner.

Lukaszuk appealed the court decision — the first time a provincial election result was ever taken to the Court of Appeal. He ended up winning the seat by just three votes.

Only poll that matters —  election day?

This will be Mandel's first province-wide election, having won the Edmonton-Whitemud riding in a byelection in October. He finished almost 3,000 votes ahead of NDP candidate Bob Turner. Mandel was appointed health minister shortly after Jim Prentice took over as premier.

Mandel, like his colleagues, was also quick to dismiss the poll numbers.

He instead pointed out how wrong the pollsters were the 2012 election, when polling consistently showed the Tories on their way out in favour of the Wildrose.

"I believe that we're in great shape, and those kind of polls seem to be proven wrong time and time again," Mandel said.

The polls by Abingdon Research were conducted on Sunday, April 26, using interactive voice response technology. The polling was independently commissioned by RackNine as a public service to Albertans.

The survey, which polled 561 residents in Edmonton-Whitemud, had a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points, 19 times out 20. The Edmonton-Castle Downs poll surveyed 481 residents and had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points, 19 times out 20.


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