Liberals release poll, continue with bold moves

The Alberta Liberals carried on day two of the provincial election campaign with another bold move. After suggesting that they had the best day one of the parties, I risk coming across as partisan when I suggest that they take the cake again for day two. The big bang came from releasing internal poll results on public opinion of their policy platform. This move wasn’t a complete win for the Liberals but it was the boldest move of the day.

(Honourable mention goes to the Conservative “Compare” press releases, but I am sure I will be able to write about those on a future day.)

It is common for parties to engage in all sorts of public polling (and even push polling, if you are Stephen Carter) but it is most uncommon for those parties to release the results publicly. Furthermore, the Alberta Liberals need to be given full points for releasing the entire results – warts and all.

The poll results show that the public might be comfortable with adopting some of the Liberal positions, perhaps even more so if they don’t come from the Liberals:

  • 57% of Albertans support doubling the seniors home care budget,
  • 50% support elimination school fees,
  • 53% support post secondary debt forgiveness for grads who stay in Alberta,
  • 50% support tuition elimination,
  • 64% support free votes in the legislature,
  • 54% support income tax hikes on the wealthy, and
  • 66% support higher corporate taxes.

 I should mention that all of the poll questions were phrased in the positive and people are more likely to poll in favour of things as opposed to being against things and that may speak to some of the support. But what is interesting is question C3: Having heard these ideas from the Alberta Liberal Party platform do they make you more or less likely to vote for them?

Almost as many people said they were less likely to vote for the Liberals as said they were more likely to vote for them (around a third of respondents each). 28% of people said they wouldn’t change their voting intention at all. And given that only 13% of respondents expressed support for the Liberals, this result should not be completely comforting for the grits. The question not asked was would you be more likely to vote for the NDP or Wildrose party after hearing their policy.

Unfortunately, ideas matter less in elections than how effective you are at messaging them or how popular your leader is.  The Liberals have a big branding issue in Alberta that probably can’t be solved by simply expressing good ideas.

Two days of bold announcements might help fix the brand, but they must have some big tricks left to pull out later in the campaign too.