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Alberta likely won't see Conservative sweep it did last federal election

Watch out for the 'September surprise,' says MacEwan University professor
1509 vote prjection jn
Conservatives have a strong lead in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding as we head off into the final week of the federal election campaign.

It’s the final week of the federal election campaign and not much has changed in poll projections in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding.

According to Sept. 12 data from 338 Canada, Conservative incumbent Michael Cooper continues to show a strong lead in projected votes at 53 per cent, with a confidence interval of eight per cent.

Dr. Chaldeans Mensah, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at MacEwan University, said he believes Cooper is not going to face any serious problems in the riding because the progressive vote is being split between the NDP and the Liberals.

“That is always good news for the incumbent in this kind of contest, but certainly the NDP candidate is one to watch. I don't think [Kathleen Mpulubusi] going to pose a significant challenge to Mr. Cooper in this coming race,” said Mensah.

Mensah said Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole started his campaign on the wrong foot by alienating his base on issues such as carbon tax. He also wasn’t getting political visibility on the national stage because Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party leader, had dominated.

“Surprisingly he’s handled himself very well, he came up strongly with his so-called recovery plan. And his performance has been very impressive in terms of his ability to communicate in both languages. He has clarity of thought, and his personality has really come through,” said Mensah

The Conservative projection is one per cent lower than it was on Sept. 2, but still well above the predicted 23 per cent support, with a confidence interval of six per cent predicted for NDP candidate Kathleen Mpulubusi, who gained nearly one per cent.

Mensah said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has performed reasonably well in this campaign.

“What has surprised me in this campaign is that he's been very dogged in his attacks on Mr. Trudeau because he wants to keep those votes, he doesn't want the NDP voters to be frightened as usual by the Liberals when they fear a Conservative victory,” said Mensah.

Singh has been impressive in hammering home his plans to tax the rich, pharmacare, and climate change, Mensah said.

“If his voters don't disappear to the Liberal count, then I think he will surprise in this [election] and he [will] pick up more seats than they have right now,” he said.

Greg Springate, the local Liberal candidate, has gained three per cent according to Sept. 12 data and is projected to see 17 per cent of the vote, with a confidence interval of five per cent.

“Mr. Trudeau of 2021 is not the same. Trudeau who came on the scene, who had that flourish in that flare about him, who was able to connect very well these people, by virtue of his personality,” said Mensah.

Trudeau has been more aggressive in this campaign because he knows he has strong opponents, Mensah said.

“I think what he's doing right now is trying to paint the Conservatives as the nightmare to try to frighten the progressive voters who are the majority in Canada right to stay with him, and not to split the vote with the NDP and other parties,” he said.

The People’s Party of Canada has also seen an increase in support in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding. It is projected that representative Brigette Cecelia will see support from 7.2 per cent of voters in the riding, with a confidence interval of four per cent.

On the provincial side of things, Mensah said there has been a strong increase in support for progressive parties provincially in the two major cities; however, when it comes to federal elections, those same voters do not always align with their federal counterparts.

“So, the Conservative Party remains very strong. Opinion polls are showing that [the party] still remains very strong in Alberta,” said Mensah.

There are swing ridings in Alberta. Seats that show a toss-up between the Liberals and Conservatives, according to data from 338 Canada, are Calgary Centre, Calgary Skyview, Calgary Confederation, Edmonton Centre, and Edmonton Mill Woods.

Edmonton Strathcona is NDP safe while Edmonton Griesbach is a toss-up between the NDP and Conservatives.

“I don't think it's going to be a repeat of last time around when [the Conservatives] swept, except in Old Strathcona. I'm looking for maybe one or two other pickups by the non-Conservative parties in the province,” said Mensah.

Part of the reason for this is the unpopularity of Premier Jason Kenney, explained Mensah.

Nationally, 338 Canada is projecting a Conservative lead at 32.2 per cent and Liberals at 31.9 per cent.

Angus Reid institute is reporting a statistical deadlock between the Conservatives at 32 per cent and the Liberals at 30 per cent.

Data from Abacus Data also shows a tie between the two parties, projecting 32 per cent for each.

Mensah said the final week will be about the ground game. We will be seeing increased social media efforts, increased negative advertisements, and possibly the September surprise.

“Always watch out for the September surprise — something the campaigns are holding on to. Something damaging, you know, thrown into the mix in the last couple of days before people vote. That is designed not to allow time for the political opponents or the target to respond. So, watch out for those.”