Issues related to the rising cost of living and to health care could be pivotal for parties vying to emerge as winners in the 2023 Alberta election, according to a new poll.
Results from a recent Global/Ipsos poll that asked 1,200 Albertans for their opinions, both online and over the phone, showed that 54 per cent of respondents considered cost of living/affordability/inflation to be one of their top three election issues.
Meanwhile, 52 per cent put health care as one of their top three issues.
The next highest issue selected was economy/jobs, at 25 per cent.
“I can’t say I’ve seen another provincial election in Canada where I’ve seen two issues stand out so far ahead of the pack than other issues, in terms of what’s on the mind of voters,” Kyle Braid, senior vice-president of public affairs at Ipsos, told Global News.
“The issues break out how you think they would. Economic and money issues such as the oil and gas industry, taxes, government spending, the economy and even the new Calgary arena tend to benefit the UCP… and on the other hand, you’ve got the environment, social issues, education and health care all in favor of the New Democrats.
“Both parties have issues that they can use to their advantage in this campaign.”
For the two most selected issues — cost of living and health care — the number of people who appear to consider those to be pivotal election issues appear to be fairly consistent across the provinces, according to the poll’s results which were released Thursday.
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The cost of living was selected as one of the three most important campaign issues by 52 per cent of respondents from Calgary, 54 per cent of respondents from Edmonton and 55 per cent of respondents from the rest of Alberta.
For health care, it was 49 per cent from Calgary, 54 per cent from Edmonton and 51 per cent from the rest of the province.
The 2023 election race is widely seen by political analysts as a two-horse race involving the United Conservative Party and the Alberta NDP.
Political analyst Jason Ribeiro told Global News he believes the poll results could be used strategically by both the UCP and the NDP.
“I think you’re going to see them tracking to their strong suits very, very overtly,” he said.
“You know that the NDP or left-leaning parties have always been stronger in terms of their rhetoric and positioning around social services, health care, child care — and you always see conservative parties leaning into economic, affordability, kitchen table issues like cost of living.
“And the fact of the matter is, most polls have shown that they’re stronger in each of those with regards to the terms of the UCP on cost of living and the NDP on health care.
“Those are the top two issues of this election and it should be no surprise that both parties track to their strengths and try to define the election outcome on both of those terms.”
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Ribeiro said if the poll suggested a party was less trusted on a particular issue, it could be well-served to work harder to make voters confident in their ability to handle certain files.
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“So if the UCP feels very comfortable on the cost of living and affordability issues, and not so much on the NDP side, the NDP in my estimation needs to become more convincing on these issues,” he said.
“Same goes for the reverse: you saw Danielle Smith try and make health care — through a guarantee — an issue that she can be credible on, that the UCP can be credible on.
Ribeiro said the devil would be in the details, in terms of how good a sell job both parties can do to convince Albertans.
“That even though the other party is stronger on those terms, that there is a credible government in waiting in the Opposition party — or potentially the current government — to be able to lead on health care or lead on the affordability issue.
“That’s what I would like to see more of in the coming weeks and that’s what may make the difference in terms of differentiating the two parties — otherwise I think this might be a little bit of a boring race.”
METHODOLOGY: The Global/Ipsos poll was conducted between April 26 and 30, 2023. For this survey, a sample of 1,200 eligible Alberta voters was interviewed, including 800 online and 400 through CATI phone surveys (mix of cell and landlines). These data have been weighted by age, gender, region and education to reflect the Alberta population according to Census figures. The precision of Ipsos polls conducted fully or partly online is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the overall results (1,200 interviews in total) are accurate to within ±3.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all eligible voters been polled. Some questions are based only on a sample of 800 online respondents and are accurate to within ±3.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Ipsos abides by the disclosure standards established by the CRIC. To complete the CATI phone surveys, a total of 3,673 individuals were asked to participate. Call outcomes broke down as 400 completes (11%), 2,775 refusals (76%), 182 not eligible (5%), 245 callbacks (7%) and 71 language barriers (2%).
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