PHOTOS: Who cares what Albertans think? Elvis is alive. Obviously! Below: Pollster Allan Gregg and Alberta Premier Jim Prentice.

Here’s my advice to members of Wildrose 2.0, the Alberta NDP and the other opposition parties with and without seats in the Legislature: Don’t start measuring the drapes in the ministers’ offices just yet.

Yes, there have now been two polls suggesting much the same thing – that the Wildrose Party is surging back after a few bad weeks, the NDP is extremely strong in the Edmonton area, and support for the Progressive Conservative government is fading.

But neither one is a particularly good poll, technically speaking. One’s based on demon dialler technology. The other used a self-selecting panel. Both were in the field over a weekend. Just the same, this is not to say that they haven’t hit on a real phenomenon, voter-intention-wise.

The first, done by a little known Toronto company called Mainstreet Technologies, said the Progressive Conservative government under Premier Jim Prentice and the Wildrose Party under just-chosen leader Brian Jean are tied at 24-per-cent each, and that Rachel Notley’s NDP has province-wide support of 15 per cent, but is at about 35 per cent in the Edmonton area.

That pollster’s demon-diallers were calling Albertans seeking push-button answers on Sunday, and the results were published Tuesday. They set opposition hearts a-pumping.

The second, conducted last Friday through Monday and published yesterday by Insights West (although why anyone would publish a poll on April 1 is not clear to me) put the tallies at 31 per cent for the PCs and 27 per cent for the Wildrose Party. It placed NDP support at 22 per cent province-wide and 31 per cent in Edmonton.

This, according to the Calgary Herald, “confirmed” the Mainstreet poll – it didn’t, but it certainly suggests a trend.

Now, my guess is that the Prentice PCs are in fact trending down at the moment and that the Wildrose and the NDP are enjoying a modest rise in support, but not at the levels claimed by these two surveys.

Not to be negative, but doesn’t anyone remember what happened right after after the last time a bunch of polls suggested a Wildrose election victory was in the offing?

To reprise: back in the now-apparently-forgotten spring of 2012 leading up to the Alberta general election of April 23 that year, polls kept saying the Tories under Alison Redford were doomed, and the Wildrose Party led by sparkling young leader Danielle Smith was cantering toward an easy majority government.

If you want to look it up, excellent search terms in addition to Smith and Wildrose would be would be “upstart party” and “surging in the polls.”

Mainstream media, which consistently pulls for the right (wing) team, could barely keep itself from hyperventilating at the thought of a government even farther to the right that the Klein-Stelmach-Redford PCs.

Then something happened. Sure, there was that Lake of Fire moment, when a Wildrose candidate unintentionally revealed where he thought his gay fellow citizens would end up in the next world. Or rather, when the PCs revealed a blog post the candidate had left conveniently lying around for them on his church’s website. But there was much more to it than that.

Some observers also believe the voters – responding to a well-run campaign by Ms. Redford’s PCs – changed their collective mind in the last hours of the campaign. That’s part of the story too.

If you want to Google what happened then, search terms like “baffled,” “breathtaking,” “unprecedented,” “clearly something’s wrong,” “I’m concerned about the impact on the credibility of the (polling) profession,” and “how did the pollsters get it so wrong?” Indeed, all these search terms happen to come out of the same story!

In other words, when you get right down to it, whatever all the other reasons may be, the pollsters just got it spectacularly wrong. Some of them more spectacularly than others.

On April 23, Ms. Redford’s PCs won a respectable majority – which under the circumstances amounted to a massive victory.

The same thing happened again, with similarly unexpected results, in British Columbia in May 2013, as it had almost happened in Quebec in September 2012.

As in Alberta, in both those elections sitting governments that appeared headed to defeat were unexpectedly reelected despite the confident predictions of the pollsters, who seem to have done a little better in a couple of elections since.

How did Ms. Redford do it in 2012? What “is so easy to miss in the province-wide and nation-wide polling – but especially at the provincial level – is the strength of incumbency,” observed Harris-Decima pollster Allan Gregg the day after the Alberta election.

A year later, right after the B.C. election, he blamed a “confluence” of factors – as the Canadian Press summarized his point, “unreliable methods used to contact survey respondents, inexperienced, fly-by-night pollsters and badly-framed questions.”

Indeed, Mr. Gregg observed then, again as summarized by CP, “a lot of inexperienced pollsters have jumped into the field, particularly in provincial campaigns, offering their surveys to the media for free as a way to promote their fledgling companies.”

Anyway, he said back in the wake of the last Alberta general election, “these people” (he meant the voters) “could be very, very mad at the government but still love ol’ Jim.”

That was a somewhat mysterious comment, presumably a generic observation about local Tory candidates as there was no major figure in the race named Jim.

Well, there is now.

Meanwhile, in other polling news, a different survey by Insights West taken in roughly the same time period concluded that more than a quarter of Albertans believe climate change is a hoax and nearly half of them believe in UFOs.

Nearly 40 per cent of them believe Princess Diana was assassinated. Surprisingly, though, only 10 per cent thought the moon landings were a hoax. Still, if we had proportional representation, that would be enough to elect MLAs to the Legislature.

Astonishingly, just 1 per cent believed Elvis is alive.

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  1. Interesting…

    I look at precedents. GSAs in schools likely would have been a nagging, but largely back burner issue had it not been for the panicked response to Laurie Blakeman’s bill. Kent Hehr’s earlier attempt was successfully fended.

    Albertans went Full Mama Bear on Gordon Dirks and Jim Prentice and the safeschoolsalberta website flooding their email inboxes brought about an abrupt 180.

    I contend this is in fact a tipping point. 20,00 PC party members are no match for 1.2 million eligible voters.

  2. I was with you up to the 2012 Quebec election reference, which isn’t an analogy. The PQ under Pauline Marois defeated the incumbent Liberals of Jean Charest. Perhaps the result was closer than expected, but the PQ was nonetheless tapped to win.

  3. The one wild card most polls, regardless of methodology, are unable to account for is voter turnout. In Alberta, where voter turnout is consistently abysmal, this is a bigger factor than elsewhere. In a place where more often than not, the majority just stays home, how can you predict election outcomes with any degree of confidence?

    1. Remember the words of Conservative stalwarts Margaret Thatcher and Brian Mulroney. The only poll that counts is the one on election day, voter turnout notwithstanding.

      Polls like the one David’s had fun with are as pertinent as an Alison Redford election promise.

  4. It blows my imagination when I think of Albertans still voting for Conservatives who have done nothing but rob them blind for the past 15 years or more. I will map it out:

    They have taken more than 700 billion dollars from our heritage Savings and Trust fund, They did this by limiting the growth to 5% taking all above and putting it into General Revenues to spend as taxes.(we sure could have used that now)

    They continue to operate as an extension of the oil cartels rather than custodians of this province!

    Starting about 10 years ago they discounted our oil going to market by 30% this shorted the Alberta Producers and the Alberta economy this effectively moved 30% of the revenue out of Alberta and Canada and into the pockets of the oil principals in the US Gulf Coast who in turn made huge profits exporting.

    Our losses over this period of time, on this one item I would place at a minimum of 3 Trillion dollars!

    When our deal on oil was first made, we got 34% on the finished plant but only charged 1% until the built plant was paid for in full with no audits on costs. Albertans paid for those plants 110% This is when Ralph Klein
    took over. When Klein left office the drain was already on the Heritage Trust fund and our royalty was down to 16% the lowest in the world! We only discovered this when Fred Dunn Alberta Auditor General chided the Government for collecting only 16% of the royalty when they were telling the public we were at 19%. This prompted a hate Fred Dunn campaign, they cut the auditor general budget to nothing forcing him out of office because he couldn’t afford to do anything.

    There was an interim Energy Minister then, Ron Liepert who announced on TV that Albertans should learn to tighten their belts. Our royalty was down to 6% and was going to fall from there. Our royalty for the past 2 years has been zero%

    Just a few weeks ago it was announced there would be a $30 addition to every power bill in the province as a power line build tax. There is no ending date on this. There are 1.5 million meters spinning in this province which means a billion dollar rip off every 2 years.

    We are shedding population like a dog sheds flees! As the population numbers plummet we will be expected to pay still more probably through our well established indirect taxation system, the utilities. There is no shortage of water. Oil companies asked for a basin of water and were given an allotment of a swimming pool. In this way the Conservatives on one side would say we are out of water (allotments) an oil on the other side could say how responsible we are, we didn’t use our allotment!

    Our problem is not spending which brings me to the Wild Rose Party. They are born and raised in Southern Alberta Guided by the LDS church who contribute heavily to the US Republicans and have taught that considerable population in southern Alberta that a hard conservative Government is the only way to survive.

    They know from experience that a Republican Government or a Conservative Government or something even more ugly, the Wild Rose Party will cut social programs forcing people back to the church and their famous community cellar for their daily ration.

    To give the LDS credit they are the first to have boots and supplies on the ground on world disasters, well ahead of most governments, being well funded through perks and supplies from the various Republican Governments.

    The Wild Rose Party say time again it is the spending that is out of order, too much money sent to Ottawa. What they are talking about is the cornerstone of what makes Canada, Canada!

    The Transfer payments they are so vocal about cutting off cannot Legally be cut off but it doesn’t s stop them from saying so. They justify this by saying Alberta has never received funding from Ottawa and in private they talk about how it was the Chase Manhattan Bank that saved Alberta in those early days.

    In fact Alberta received equalization-transfer payments from conception until 1947 and again from 1957 to 1965. We got our share of the program when we needed it! It is a Canadian solution so both Harper and the WRP want to end it. Harper put his election crew in charge of the WRP election campaign for Smith and Dinning, now a lobbyist for the oil companies was their poster boy and occasional commenter.

    We were often compared to Norway who had a similar oil output to Alberta. Norway has over 1 trillion dollars in offshore banks, now acting as the Bankers for Europe! They have a taxation system in their country that operates their country. This all done to protect their industry.

    They offer free university for those who want it. They have state of the art medical facilities and availability that is second to none.

    This highly educated group turn out 70% of their population for every vote. The Conservatives got in with just 23% because voter turn out in Alberta was so dismal; like wise Canada!

    This crisis for which we have no backup is going to last a minimum of 6 years! More than likely longer. We have lost all our markets; customers with exception of a trickle into Cushing Ill. Obama is busy laying 11,600 miles of new pipelines. My guess is hooking up the 5 US authority districts for oil. That way they would take advantage of more bits of storage here and there.

    The Conservatives are lying through their teeth going into an election where they will continue to do the same thing over and over as they have done in the past. Please, learn from it!

    One other very important item: Alberta put up a make work program for the oil patch in the last major downturn. It was miner; lasted 2 years at the end of which time the Conservatives announced it had cost taxpayers 6 billion dollars.

    Knowing full well they never had that kind of money (very little in fact) I checked the AIMCO financial statement just released and it showed AIMCO posting a 7 billion dollar loss while other like companies were posting 3% gains. 7 billion was a 10% loss a difference of 13%

    AIMCO supposedly look after the municipal and Government pension funds. I contacted the unions who entered into the fray with the Government who denied for 3 weeks they did not touch the pension funds.

    When they were hit with the prospect of court and AIMCo producing their books in that court in disclosure the Government relented. Yes they did take the money and arrangements were made to repay.

    So, in this one single action the Alberta Conservatives proved themselves to be Liars, thieves and cheats. Smooth move to show their colors so clearly.

    Kinder Morgan has announced the building of a storage capacity in Edmonton; an additional 4.8 million barrels. That is because US national storage is filling up. We are heading into our slow season for oil; heating is off. Cushing is rapidly filling up and its too expensive by comparison to the price of oil to build new pipelines from Cushing to the Gulf coast. And, that section isn’t on Obama’s list.

    How did all this come about!

    Merkle the all powerful Conservative wanted an embargo on Russia. Harper joined in; he didn’t want to be left out. Lord help those who don’t show up for the tea party.

    Russia immediately put Gazprom to work who inked a long term very cheap deal with China on LNG and Oil. China to this point was the Wests big dream of a continuing market. China responded by putting its 5 LNG plants in Indonesia up for sale citing they were not making enough money. (As compared to cheap gas from Russia) No takers yet. But, this threw the Saudi into a BTU war with Indonesia to protect the Saudi market. It affected the whole world as prices plummeted.

    Obama didn’t help things by curtailing Saudi access to the Gulf Refineries. More pressure on Saudi; more price cutting and more cheap oil out.

    Another market was Japan who were buying LNG at 17.00 per mcf and the west and Indonesia were buying at 3.00 per mcf. Japan asked for some relief in prices as their economy was sinking. They were told no!

    A new election produced a new Government who immediately put back online its 3 remaining nuclear plants and promised to build 6 more in the next 2 years. Their economy has already improved but the dream market of Christie in BC and the west in general had disappeared.

    I am going to support the Alberta NDP. They are fiscally responsible and sane. The latter as important as the first and I think I have demonstrated that socialism is safe and that the Conservative failed state is really the source of our problems.

    Complaining on line is not going to change anything! The only change will come by you turning out and voting when the time comes! And yes, your vote does make a difference!

    And to the people in Southern Alberta; have you not been manipulated long enough.
    Im off to Alberta–The details. Posted Davids first.

    1. Sir, while many of your points are well taken, you weaken your credibility by bringing conspiracist-sounding allegations against a rather unconventional religious denomination into your argument. While there is a streak of evangelical Christian social conservatism inherent in right-wing politics in Alberta, as well as elsewhere in North America, I reject the implicit suggestion there is an organized conspiracy by certain churches to dominate Alberta politics.

      And I’m not a Christian, but an atheist, so this is not about defending my beliefs, but about putting forward reasoned and rational arguments against the neo-liberal policies of the two conservative parties vying for our votes. People lose interest when an argument descends into conspiracist ranting.

      1. First off Jerry I was born and raised in the LDS church, schooled in Salt Lake and Cardston in my early years. A decan. The LDS may be unconventional to you but, not to me.

        The LDS church is a very political religious body who push for the Republicans and have done so for ever. Their last big hope for US president is Romney and, they just might make it. Sorry if your sensibilities were bent but I know of what I speak.

      2. JERRYMACGP I’ve read your replies on this blog often and always agree with you. It gives me comfort to know I am not alone in my political analysis and others share some of my insights.

        However, with respect to your liberal guilt driven defence of LDS, it is unfortunately, misplaced, and misinformed. John Clark is correct, and in fact he is holding back a little.

        First off, you must understand that irrespective of what LDS members say, it is a cult and not a bona fide religion. It is in the same class as the “Church” of Scientology.

        John is also very correct in stating that LDS (the cult) is highly politically active. They are inseparable from the Republican party and it’s extremist wing the Tea Party.

        It was LDS that sponsored a California proposition trying to deny the rights of gays. By sponsoring, I mean spending money and preaching to advance their ultra-right wing and intolerant agenda against gay rights.

        Sorry JERRYMACGP, but if you think LDS is just another religion you are quite incorrect. You are unwittingly falling into their trap of underestimating their political and economic clout in America. This influence is also very strong in Alberta, especially S. Alberta.

        People don’t have difficulty understanding and accepting the role of Big Oil in the rise of the Wildrose Party. That is not conspiratorial. But, when one also brings in the influence of LDS members in that same party, all of a sudden they are conspiracy theorists or religious intolerants? I don’t think so. LDS is a political force with the expertise and cash to steer the political agenda. Anyone who believes otherwise is naïve. Do your homework.

        1. I don’t normally engage in back & forth debates with other commenters in this forum, but I feel I must make an exception here.

          Firstly, “liberal guilt driven defence of LDS”? Hardly. I’m not a liberal, I’m a fairly hard-core socialist, whose support of the NDP, instead of a more purely left-wing party, is more about practicality and not wanting my votes or contribution dollars to go down the drain of a fringe party.

          Secondly, while I agree that there are parts of the U.S., and maybe rural southern Alberta, where Mormons are highly politically influential; up here in the Peace Country, they are not a force. In terms of political influence in Canada, no religious sect is more influential than the one headed by a micro-state in the heart of Rome. None other, for example, has constitutional protection for taxpayer-supported parochial schools. And here in the Peace Country, the most insular and distinctive denominations are the Hutterian Brethren and the various “flavours” of Mennonites.

          Thirdly, I object to the use of the unmodified term “America” to refer to the USA. America is the entire land mass from Tuktoyaktuk to Tierra del Fuego; we live in America. That powerful nation to our south and northwest has misappropriated the term to refer to itself, and I for one don’t accept that misappropriation.

          Finally, as an atheist who believes in a secular humanist philosophy, the question of whether a religion is a “cult” is highly value-laden, and I tend to stay away from that usage except when we talk about the extreme outliers, like the Jim Jones or Solar Temple types. After all, if the most widely-accepted account of Christianity’s origins is to be believed, it could easily have been described as a cult, having its origins in a more mainstream religion, Judaism, and having been led by a charismatic prophet with what were then unconventional beliefs. But one believer’s “cult” can be another’s deeply held faith, and as a man of no faith, who am I to judge?

  5. Only 1% of Albertans think Elvis still lives? You got nuthin’ on our friends to the south. From

    7% of Americans think Elvis is STILL ALIVE

    Some people even theorize that the body that is currently buried 6 feet underground in Graceland is actually a wax model, & that the real Elvis was spotted hopping on a plane to Buenos Aires 2 hours before his official time of death, going by the alias /John Burrows/.

  6. According to several sources at “The End Times”, Elvis is alive and Harper is Elvis.
    Did John Baird resign over proposed conscription bill?
    CBC News Posted: Mar 31, 2015 1:34 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 31, 2015 3:16 PM ET
    When former foreign affairs minister John Baird announced in February he would be resigning from cabinet, there was one secret he was keeping: his falling out with the Prime Minister over Harper’s plan to introduce a conscription bill shortly after the federal election.
    In a February interview with CBC’s chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, Baird said he didn’t want to become one of the “lifers” in federal politics. He had made the decision to leave politics to pursue career opportunities in the private sector.
    EXCLUSIVE: John Baird tells Peter Mansbridge he didn’t want to be political lifer
    But according to two reliable sources — both close friends of Baird — it was during a special closed-door meeting with Baird, Harper and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2014 — on the third day of Harper’s four-day trip to Israel — that Harper discussed the possibility of a conscription bill for 18-year-old men and women, based on the Israeli model.
    Stephen Harper vows loyalty to Israel in speech to Knesset
    Stephen Harper travelling party reflects significance of Israel trip
    Conscription exists for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18, although non-Druze Arab citizens of Israel are exempt; other exceptions are made on religious, physical or psychological grounds. The normal length of compulsory service is currently three years for men and two years for women.
    Despite a general impression that the majority of Israeli citizens are conscripted, only about 50% of potential conscripts actually serve in the military.
    According to an official in the Department of National Defence, interviewed on condition of anonymity, the normal length of compulsory service for Canadians would only be one year for men and women. Should a conscript wish to serve a second or third year, or make the military a career, he or she could apply after completing the initial year of training.
    An automatic postponement — not exemption — would be granted for any teen who had not graduated from secondary/high school.
    If the Conservatives win another majority and the bill passes, it would take effect September 1, 2016.
    “Such a bill would deprive Canadian youth of their liberties,” says Michele H. Hollins, President of the Canadian Bar Association, “and would be vigorously challenged in the courts.” The CBA represents over 37,000 lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers, and law students from across Canada.
    Baird has since become a special international adviser to Barrick Gold Corp. The Toronto-based mining giant (TSX:ABX), in its annual report issued March 28, lists Baird as a member of its international advisory board.
    John Baird, ex-foreign affairs minister, to advise Barrick Gold
    Baird, 45, has been in politics most of his adult life. He was first elected as an MP in 2006 after a decade in provincial politics in Ontario, where he served in the cabinet of Mike Harris.

    Despite repeated requests, Baird could not be reached for comment.

  7. What I don’t believe is that socialism is in any way still alive. It’s more credible to say that Elvis is alive than socialism works. Market fundamentalism is the present and future.

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