In a previous post on Social Media and the Alberta Provincial elections it seemed clear by all indicators that the upstart Wild Rose Alliance was headed to certain victory, crushing the 40 year reign of the Progressive Conservatives. Oh, how wrong we were.
In the final week of the campaign, 6 polls all came within 2 points of each other, showing Wildrose ahead in the popular vote by an aggregate of 41% to 33%. Those numbers indicating a majority government. Yet the results on Monday were a complete reversal – instead of winning a majority of seats, and wiping the floor with the popular vote, Wildrose only gained 17 MLAs with the Progressive Conservatives beating all expectations with 61 seats.
What happened with the polling is a matter of considered speculation and hand-wringing by polling companies and media, some journalists even jumping the gun and posting political obituaries to Alison Redford and her Progressive Conservatives before the polls had closed and the votes counted.
via The Globe and Mail: “There’s been much discussion about how the polls could be so wrong,” said Ian Large, vice-president, Alberta, for Léger Marketing.
“My first reaction was, `Oh my, maybe something went wrong’, ,” said David Coletto, chief executive of Abacus Data Inc., which conducted automated-call polling.
It was a late shift, nothing could be done
Mr. Large said Wildrose ran an effective campaign until late controversies — comments on gays and race relations by two candidates, Allan Hunsperger and Ron Leech, and Ms. Smith’s unwillingness to condemn them — reinforced voters’ fears about the party’s social agenda.
“None of the polls were conducted late enough to capture the impact of those comments,” Mr. Large said.
The other challenge, he noted, was that voting took place Monday and that the key shift unfolded during the weekend, when it is harder for pollsters to reach respondents at home.
Like last-minute shoppers, many Albertans made their voting decision during the last weekend, Mr. Large and Mr. Coletto similarly argued, both separately reaching for the image of voters making up their minds after hashing it out at family gatherings.
Listen to the podcast as CFAX host Adam Stirling and I discuss what issues and trends might have caused one of the most interesting election shifts in recent Canadian political history.