Why I am quite confident NDP will win next Alberta election

For full disclosure, I do not support NDP in Alberta and would not vote for them if I lived there next year. Although don’t like UCP either so somewhat glad I don’t have to make the tough choice. However, I believe there is around a 90% chance Notley is victorious in next year’s Alberta election. Obviously if Kenney gets removed, that helps UCP a bit, but even then I still believe all the fundamentals point to an NDP win. I have debated many on twitter who say it won’t happen, but I think it is important to look at actual data, not our pre-conceived perceptions. Off course election is still 14.5 months away so it is possible things change, but last time any party as far back as UCP came back and won was BC Liberals in 2013. Fact none have since shows its possible but history is not on their side.

Most don’t believe this is true as Alberta is one of the most reliably conservative provinces. Federally, whatever is the most right wing party usually wins almost every seat in the province. And provincially since 1935, in all but one election its voted for a party on right and often by landslides. The one election NDP won was at least as many say was due to splits on right so as long as right is united, they are guaranteed to win. Problem is this shows a misunderstanding of province and also just because something has always happened in the past doesn’t mean it will continue indefinitely. There have been loads of cases where an area always voted a certain way until it did not. I believe Alberta is at this juncture. Now maybe next year after election, this will look silly, but I don’t think my NDP prediction is so far fetched. In fact if you are putting asides perceptions and going on actual data, anything other than NDP win is going against what data says is most likely.

Below I will rebut some of the common criticisms I hear from those who still think UCP is heavily favoured.

  1. WIPA vote will come back to UCP come election time: I believe that is true but even then, NDP still has a lead, this just narrows it. And not all will, some will but rarely can you add two parties together and assume new party will get sum of two.
  2. NDP is running up margins in Edmonton so will win popular vote but not seats: Little evidence of that as every poll shows NDP has double digit lead in Calgary and if anything UCP has wasted votes in rural Alberta. Reality is despite stereotype Calgary is fairly centrist and NDP may lean left but they are more centrist than UCP is. Calgary for last 40 years has consistently elected progressive mayors so that suggests to me they vote Conservative federally more due to habit and feeling federal Liberals are hostile to province not ideology.
  3. Good economy will save UCP: There are loads of premiers who have lost when economy doing well including Philippe Couillard, Christy Clark etc. Fact is once a premier’s approval falls below 30%, and Kenney’s has, people don’t care what you do anymore, they are so fed up they will vote you out no matter what.
  4. People remember how bad Notley was and won’t make same mistake again: Except polls show most don’t think Notley did a bad job. Yes they turfed her but before seeing alternative, people measure you against ideal but once saw alternative than against it. Its like test driving a new car. Your first one isn’t very good so you try another, but the other one is even worse so you realize maybe original wasn’t so bad and buy it. That is exactly how Albertans feel.
  5. Polls always overestimate NDP and underestimate right: That has generally been true but no election not even BC 2013 was that big a miss. Otherwise if NDP has a 15 point lead, they may end up winning by say only seven points, that is possible, but they are not losing.

NDP being ahead actually makes a lot of sense if you just look at demographics of Alberta and how those types vote in other parts of English speaking world. Alberta is very urbanized and asides Australia, cities as large as Calgary and Edmonton are voting for progressive parties in rest of Canada as well as US and UK. Alberta is most educated province in the most educated country and nowadays educated people tend to lean left or at best maybe go for slightly right of centre parties but never too ideological. Alberta is also very diverse and diverse places tend to lean left too. Its likewise the youngest province and we know younger people tend to lean left. Never mind with so many Albertans coming from other provinces or only coming of age in last decade, a large chunk of the electorate wasn’t eligible to vote in Alberta in most of the past elections that right dominated. Alberta is moving left for same reason Colorado and Virginia in 2000 were solid red states, now solid blue today while Georgia and Arizona were solid red a decade ago, now purple states. Only two things in right’s favour in Alberta are higher incomes and energy sector. However unlike in 80s and 90s, income plays less role in how people vote. While on energy sector, Notley is very pro-energy unlike many on left. Just she wants to use revenue for more social programs not tax cuts and with Alberta already having lowest taxes in Canada that makes some sense. Right loves to play up regionalism and pretend Alberta is some unique province but really its not that much different than rest of country. Yes rural areas still very conservative like in most provinces, but urban areas where most live are centrist or left leaning. So in summary I absolutely believe the polls and if I had to bet money, I would happily put money on Notley winning next year. Even if Kenney is dumped as leader, I believe UCP base is too far right that replacement will be as unpalatable to Albertans and with most Albertans having a positive opinion of Notley, people are not afraid of NDP winning next year. Some are, but more are not.

10 thoughts on “Why I am quite confident NDP will win next Alberta election

  1. I do not think the ABNDP is guaranteed to win the next election. It will be a very tough fight for them but it’s definitely winnable despite the better economic conditions and the balanced budget

    . also do not think the WIP supporters will save the UCP either. A noticeable chunk of WIP supporters are anti incumbent or the type of voters that don’t care about the major parties. I expect when push comes to shove the vast majority of the current WIP support moves to both the UCP and ABNDP which will help to boost both parties meh level of support in rural AB right now.

    I also do not think undecided voters will save the UCP either. The UCP benefited from an immense amount of anger in 2019 which boosted their level of support to a historic level. I don’t think undecided voters will tilt as much to the UCP this time because they are a known quantity now. Turnout will likely be less favourable for the UCP next year.

    I expect a very close election next year were either the ABNDP or UCP have a chance to win a slim majority and the election to break a lot of people’s assumptions about Alberta.


    1. Also even if WIP swing back, most are in Rural Alberta where UCP already ahead so does little good in seats just votes. Undecided I think are more likely to just not vote at all. Some may swing back to UCP, but lots will go NDP, others will just stay home.


  2. I think the most likely scenario is a minority government for the NDP. I have not seen any polls showing the NDP with over 50%, but they have consistently polled in the 40-45% range. A lot of that lead, however, is wasted in Edmonton where they should annihilate everyone else (and there is little to gain as they already have almost all the seats there). I don’t see any Edmonton seats as even competitive in the next provincial election. That said, outside the two main cities, I only see them winning a couple seats surrounding Edmonton, Banff-Kananaskis and the two Lethbridge seats, meaning they would need at least close to half of the Calgary seats to get over the top.

    I disagree that the WIPA vote will come back to the UCP. I believe much of rural Alberta has drifted so far right that many there want to separate from Canada, and if not, they believe Kenney is nowhere near right wing enough for them – they wanted no lockdowns, no mandates, Florida like all along. Almost all of the push came from rural MLA’s. If WIPA even gets 15% of the vote, that should translate into at least 10-15 seats (all of them rural) as their support is concentrated outside the major cities – they should get single digits in Calgary and in margin of error range in Edmonton.

    Calgary will be the decider, but I’m really skeptical that the NDP could actually pick up 10 or more seats to take over power. However, the fact that I think WIPA will be strong requires the UCP to pretty much sweep the city just to get to a minority for themselves. The lean of the city is conservative, but not overwhelmingly so, and it is certainly not a place where separatism will get any traction. With the price of oil increasing, I think there will be just enough fear of the NDP to get Kenney enough seats there to limit the NDP to a minority. The Alberta Party might pick up a seat or two too, and split the vote in the centre-left.

    If I made a prediction: NDP 41, UCP 33, WIPA 12, AP 1. How would that be governed though? That Legislature would likely not last very long.


    1. I think WIPA doesn’t do that well still things could tighten but my guess is something like 50 NDP, 37 UCP. I think NDP also takes capital region too and in Calgary gets around 20 seats. Seems high but when you have a 15 point lead in a province that rarely votes NDP you get all kinds of surprises. If what you had happens. My guess is UCP remains in power as no way WIPA would back NDP. But probably would ask for an independence referendum which UCP would grant expecting it to fail and likely would, but as Brexit taught people anything very risky to try that.


  3. Miles I agree with your analysis and as you know, I far prefer Notley to Kenney – and hope most Albertans feel the same!! Miss our dinners and debates – looking forward to whenever we can get together again xoxox

    Sent from my iPad


    1. I actually think Kenney will be gone in next month as loses leadership review. But while Jean is more likeable personally, I still think he loses to Notley. Smith other possibility but too libertarian. I think most Albertans want to move in a more progressive direction and are tired of right. My only question is why haven’t done so federally. I think if Trudeau would step down, I believe next Liberal leader might have potential there but hard to say for sure. Trudeau too hated though to ever breakthrough federally.


  4. At the moment it seems like the leadership fight in the UCP is going to end up similar to 2017 with Jean substituting for kenney. It seems like Jean and the anti-kenney forces have the momentum right now instead of kenney. I don’t think the byelection result means much for the ABNDP in the grand scheme of things. My gut feeling right now is that kenney will be crushed at the leadership review on April 9th. This is not accounting for anything crazy kenney might have planned for the 9th.


    1. I think Brian Jean is definitely favoured to be next leader although Danielle Smith may run. Either way Kenney will have to do a lot to hold on but he is a good organizer. And even if he survives leadership review, if something like say only 55%, I don’t see how that resolves it and doesn’t involve more infighitng.

      With Jean, I think he can win back a lot of undecided and some WIPA so probably solidifies rural Alberta, but not sure he can regain Calgary and without Calgary party cannot win. Closer yes, but still falls short.


      1. My problem with Jean is that he is a gaffe machine. He has a tendency to act like an idiot in media and is way to cozy with the Wildrose side of the UCP right now. I think he will be more willing to cooperate with the ABNDP if he is premier unlike Kenney though. I do not think he will be the UCP’s next saviour . He’s will be a heavily flawed leader for them even if he won’t be the I won’t raise your taxes guy he was during the 2015 campaign.

        I lowered my expectations of Kenney winning the leadership review lately. He does have control over the process for the review but I don’t think he is as organized as people think .The review is also going to attract a lot of attention which may not bode well for him He will likely get somewhere between 35 and 55 percent of the vote in the review in my opinion.


        1. Agreed. I think Jean does better in general election than Kenney, but still think Notley beats him. I think he brings back lost rural support but unable to win back either city and if he cannot win back Calgary, cannot win election.


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