Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hatrock's 2012 Alberta Election Analysis

I thought we'd revisit the 2012 Alberta election and my analysis of how Alison Redford was able to pull ahead and win in the "final hour".  Here's a rehash of my post:

The numbers are uncanny.  You have to go all the way back to Klein in 2001 to find the old PC stalwart voters.  They didn't show up in 2004 or 2008.  But they came back this election.  Look at this...

 501,063   PC votes in 2008
 378,023   conservatives who left PCs to WR in 2012
 123,040   conservatives/PCs remaining in PCs in 2012

 251,158   Liberal votes in 2008
- 46,174   2008 Liberals who switched to NDP in 2012
 204,984   difference
-127,642   Liberal votes in 2012

  77,342   2008 Liberal who switched to PCs in 2012
     31%   % of Liberals to PCs in 2012

 567,050  PC votes in 2012
-200,382  small-c conservatives and l-liberals who voted PCs in 2012

 366,668  New (former?) PC voters in 2012
 366,672  Voter turnout diff 2008 to 2012

IT'S THE SAME AMOUNT!!!!   In summary, a third of Liberals went PC because they were scaredy-pants of the Wildrose forming gov't, and somehow the PCs got votes from a magical voterland, perhaps this was the voter turnout difference.

Who are these magical voterland out-of-nowhere PC people?  Several theories:

  • PC went begging to all the former PC voters in some old list that haven't voted in a decade (2015--I can now confirm that this is what the party machine did)
  • Slew of public union gov't workers, teachers, and their families.  Don't forget how much the unions went on a  push poll rampage.
  • I also think in the final four days, there were about 100,000 PC supporters who'd previously said in polls that they'd vote Wildrose, and chickened out.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Alberta election party promises

 #abvote #abelxn #abpoli
With about a week left, Here are the promises of the parties that I can remember so far:

NDP (Rachel Notley):

  • Eliminate the health premiums promised in the Prentice PC budget
  • Hike corporate taxes
  • 90% of Albertans won't see tax or fee hikes
  • Increase funding for health and education
  • Look at alternatives to KeyStone pipeline proposal
  • Refine oil bitumen in Alberta, limit the amount shipped out for refinement

Wildrose (Brian Jean):

  • Cut back middle-managers in gov't, freeze their wages, reduce expense budgets, in especially health, not front-line workers and balance budget in 5 years
  • No tax hikes or fees
  • Free hospital parking for two hours
  • No more school fees
  • Reduce cabinet

PCs (Jim Prentice) -essentially their recent budget:

  • Tax hikes and fee increases for health, booze (already in), fuel (already in), camping, marriages, mortgages, and about 50 more
  • Implement a progressive tax, increasing the more you make
  • No corporate tax hikes

Alberta Party (Greg Clark):

  • Reduce number of MLAs, cabinet

Liberals (David Swan):

  • Move away from coal and fossil fuels to alternative energies

If anyone would like to add anything, or correct me if I'm wrong, please feel free to comment.  These are simply my impressions of what I've read and heard.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alberta leaders' TV debate is the PCs last hope

TV dominates politics because it is the prime-time news and political ads that stream into our homes which grab our attention.  Radio, newspaper, and even outdoor signs combined don't have the same total effect that a well-orchestrated TV ad message can have on a campaign.

The Internet, now with video ads, has had to a degree, a similar effect, but people are generally annoyed with Internet advertising and tend to look away.  We generally do not "go on the Internet" together as a couple or family.  The Internet is a personal medium experience.

Not TV, it's there when we commit to watching it. That's all there is on the screen for the whole family to see.  We've learned to expect it for 60 years.  And TV shows and advertising is about emotion and so is politics.  You know the sappy ads that pull at your heart strings and cause you to choke up?  Well, for many, they do, and it's mighty powerful.

So how a leader performs in a TV debate can be a campaign game-changer.  It is a glimpse of how the ongoing legislative question period and debate would go, but more importantly, how the leader is perceived emotionally by the view, breaking it down to a simple question:  How does the leader make you feel?

You could have a leader with a 180 IQ and Mensa member who has done all the advanced statistics and understanding on how to build a perfect society, but if they have the emotional and social capability of an inanimate object, you're not buying it.  You're not in, because you don't have that emotional connection--a bond and common understanding where you can trust the leader to know that he or she represents you.

Emotion trumps ideology in most circumstances.  Oh sure, voters have their political views and beliefs and they will attach those views to a tree if the tree had the same view, but this is where emotion is added to ideology and it's even more powerful.  I know people who have a certain strong ideology but will vote for the individual that, while they don't necessarily fit with their view. They just simply believe the person is the best representative for the job and who will actually lead.

One of my favourite quotes is from the movie "The American President" starring Michael Douglas, Martin Sheen, and Michael J. Fox.

Lewis Rothschild: You have a deeper love of this country than any man I've ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism.
President Andrew Shepherd: Look, if the people want to listen to-...
Lewis Rothschild: They don't have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.
President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.

Remind you of a certain former premier?

And so here we are today, in probably Alberta's most important party leadership debate in my lifetime.

As such, Albertans are searching for leadership--a leader who won't stab them in the back and who is offering reasonably-sounding solutions.  The details and effectiveness of those solutions are up for continued debate, but if the leader can present even a coherent sentence that makes sense, doesn't turn them off, and it's coupled with some emotion, that voter can be swayed.

What the majority of voters are looking for in this one is any reason whatsoever to not for the Prentice PCs.  Any little mistake or flip flop is amplified for Prentice and in tracking this election, I would say it isn't going particularly well.  Prentice has the uphill climb to overcome this hurdle because voters on both sides are fed up.  They don't like the recent provincial budget, as much as it's being sold as an honest one.  It's riddled with tax hikes on average Albertans--tax hikes, which conservatives can't stand, but it doesn't raise corporate taxes, which progressives can't stand.

Prentice called the election, violating the election-timing law that was put in place. He also knew all the other parties funds were depleted, especially the Wildrose including a fresh leader, with the Liberals having an interim. However, the NDP's Rachel Notley, who's well-respected father led the party in the 80's, has had some time to get her campaign ready and you have to admit, absolutely the best run campaign. There's no doubt who's winning the sign war in Edmonton. So methinks Prentice forgot about that, and possibly dismissing the NDP's chances of actually winning gov't.

The progressives that were once on the Alison Redford's train and the traditional liberals have left the PC station and have flocked to Rachel Notley.  They are not finding Prentice to be "that guy" they can trust, or progressive, even so far as disagreeing with the tax hikes on the middle and lower class.

And Conservatives in general are abandoning the PCs ... again.  Even a chunk of the traditional PC base has dipped them well below 30% in the polls and that's worth noting, especially trailing third overall.

But with that, conservatives and economic libertarians are going to watch with great intention to see if Wildrose leader Brian Jean can be everything trustworthy-wise Danielle Smith was not.  Any emotional glimpse that he actually can put a coherent sentence together without making any bonehead comments and he can be elevated.  Problem is, the Wildrose didn't field enough candidates province-wide.

With less than two weeks to go to Cinco de Mayo, the time has come for the PCs to pull another one out of their ass with a last ditch effort to put fear into their base to come home instead of running away.  The meeting with the old school campaign bankrollers to fund a TV ad blitz has probably already happened and as the other parties can't afford such a campaign, you will see every desperate attempt to woo voters back to the PCs and instill emotional fear into those who are on the fence with ads featuring Prentice selling you on it.

With that, coupled with tonight's leadership debate, the emotions that are stirred by the leaders will determine whether it's the end of the PCs 44 year dynasty or if they survive another day, and that is significant for Albertans to watch.

Why?  Because it's good TV.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Alberta Election 2015 - Campaign ratings on Day 3

Just being a casual observer of this election on TV and online, here are my impressions of the various party campaigns thus far and their plus/minus rating.  Then I'll aggregate them at the end of each week and the campaign as a whole.

PC - Jim Prentice's election campaign launch basically insulted anyone as extremists who didn't support them.  He also said they are not the party of the status quo.  Uh, riiiight. And see below. 
PC -3.

Alberta Party - The slogan "Choose Alberta's Future" was displayed at Prentice's launch and the .ca and .com domain names were then quickly swiped up by the Alberta Party.
AP +1.

NDP - They just released their first major policy plank on providing 10% of funds up to $50k to businesses who hire an employee in Alberta.  This is the recently elapsed job's program implemented by...?  Harper.
NDP +2.

Wildrose - I haven't heard or seen anything.  Maybe that's a good thing.  Just sit there and be a conservative protest vote.  You can't do that too long though or the NDP might just usurp all the good policies! People need to know who Brian Jean is.
WP +/- 0.

UPDATE:  Brian Jean comes out with a plan to balance the books in three years by cutting public sector jobs in middle management (not front line workers) without raising taxes.
WP +2.

Liberals - Well-known journalist Graham Thompson says it would take a miracle of biblical proportions for the Liberals to get a dozen seats.  And I don't usually associate the Liberals with the Bible, do you?
LP -1.

Polls released showing the Wildrose in the lead, NDP sweeping Edmonton and making in-roads in Calgary, then the PCs.  Say, what?  As it stands, it's a Wildrose minority with a possible NDP official opposition.  But anything can change day to day here.

+2 NDP
+2 WP
+1 AP
-1 LP
-3 PC

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Alberta Election 2015

As I type this, Apprentice Premier Jim Prentice is about to drop the writ and call an election.

As the Alberta PCs continue to reinvent themselves after almost 44 years in power, let's just say this election will be a referendum on the recent budget, coupled with distant memories of former Premier Alison Redford's failed leadership.

For those that got duped into thinking Prentice was a right-of-centre conservative (Danielle Smith et al., I'm looking in your direction), this budget proved otherwise--downloading the burden of total mismanagement, frivolous expenses, and massive, unaccounted spending onto the hard working middle class.  The other provincial governments who have raised taxes on its citizens have not taxed, nor spent their way out of deficit and debt.

As much as Prentice's initial tough-talk on cutting spending, we see a measly 0.7% cut, where taxes on an average family are now up by well over $2000/year.  So much for the federal tax cuts.  Gax tax increase of 4 cents alone will raise the price of everything due to shipping and transport.

But we know all this.

What we don't know is the level of impact the other parties will have in making a dent into the PC juggernaut.  A party that, in the last election, two weeks before the vote, called in a desperate plea to the backroom corporate trough for funds, coupled with Danielle Smith's mishandling of the Huntsberger scandal, led to Redford's win.  I have shown that old PC voters who didn't show up for Ed Stelmach, came out this time to support their old party.

The NDP have a full slate of candidates with more than half of them women.  Rachel Notley has done a fantastic job since becoming leader and in her measured resolve, has pushed out positive messaging to garner support, even from conservatives who dream of an effective opposition once again.  So much so is her support, a recent poll shows the NDP sweeping Edmonton.  As I told Deron Belous, NDP MLA for Beverly, the NDP can potentially hold the balance of power in a minority PC gov't.  It might just happen, folks.

The Liberals are essentially leaderless with former leader David Swann taking the interim helm.  Save a few stalwart seats, like Laurie Blakeman's in Edmonton Centre, the weakened, decimated Alberta Liberals will most certainly fall below the NDP, and possibly the Alberta Party.

The Alberta Party led by Greg Clark needs to concentrate its energy on a few ridings to at least get into the picture.  Failing that with a weak Liberal Party, terrible PC budget, and a bloodied Wildrose, if they don't get at least one seat, this project can simply be deemed a failure.

The remnants of the Wildrose Party, now led by former federal Conservative MP Brian Jean, was recently shown in a poll as tied with the PCs.  This gave much hope and fire for the embattled opposition party.  Conservatives I've spoken to who felt abandoned and disenchanted, appear to be leaning back to the Wildrose with Jean (a.k.a. someone who is a respected conservative) as the leader.  Jean has put up a $100,000 bond to guarantee he won't cross the floor, ever.  He made a Wildrose candidate resign for inappropriate comments overheard on stage at Jean's victory party.

Question is, will the Wildrose be able to raise enough funds to fight this fight for measured TV, radio, and newspaper ads to pull at the emotions of pissed-off middle class Albertans so much so to at least a protest 'No' vote on the recent budget.  In my opinion, that's all they need to do.  Their funds were recently completely depleted in the failed by-elections late last year, so it's an uphill climb, but it needs to happen now.

The PCs didn't raise corporate taxes.  That oughta be enough fodder for big oil to donate to and thank Prentice for fancy ads to sucker voters into giving them yet another term because the other parties are weak. With former president of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, Jim McCormick, resigning from the board of directors, this is an indication that things are not well within the party.

Keeping the PCs below 35% of the total vote should be enough to put them into a minority situation.

Forty-four years is enough.  Don't let it be 48.  If there's ever been a time for change, this really has to be it.