This morning I talked about how the Liberals are running scared in Edmonton. I've been on the phone with a lot of friends who are working on various campaigns in the Capital City and they echo the sentiments they're hearing at the door... Edmontonians are very open to Ed Stelmach and the message of the PC Party. A poll done for the Edmonton Journal seems to confirm this, showing a 16-point lead in the Edmonton area for Premier Stelmach.
The most telling indication that the tides are turning in Edmonton, though, landed in my inbox about 20 minutes ago when I was emailed the results of a poll done in Kevin Taft's own constituency of Edmonton Riverview.
The ever-diligent Ken Chapman also has these results posted on his blog, but they're worth repeating.
A simple, 3 question poll was conducted among 1037 residents of Edmonton Riverview between February 18th and 19th. The poll was conducted by Neil Mackie of Ivrnet Technology Services.
The questions and their responses are as follows:
Q1. Are you planning to vote in the next provincial election?
Q2. Which of the following issues will be most important in helping you decide your vote?
Affordable Housing 15%
Crime and Justice 18%
Health Care 41%
Q3. If you were to vote today, which of the following parties would you vote for?
Green Party 5%
Alberta Liberal 35%
Wild Rose Alliance Party 5%
Progressive Conservative 28%
These results are, frankly, stunning.
Kevin Taft won Edmonton Riverview in 2004 with 65% of the vote compared to 22% for his PC rival.
In the 3 1/2 years since, the residents of Edmonton Riverview have seen their MLA on TV, on the radio, and in the newspapers almost daily in his capacity as Leader of the Official Opposition. This has provided them an unusual ability to review the performance of their MLA. The results are not flattering.
Based on this poll, nearly HALF of those may have voted for Kevin Taft in 2004 are reconsidering that choice.
Of course, undecided isn't an option on the ballot and in order to capitalize on the voters who have yet to make a firm decision, candidates will have to work hard to address the issues that Riverview residents are most concerned with. It is clear, though, that Riverview residents are no longer solidly behind an MLA who has been more concerned with scandal fabrication and selling his books than with the real everyday concerns of his constituency.
So for those who are no longer sold on Kevin Taft's representation, where will they turn?
Enter Wendy Andrews.
I have known Wendy through PC Alberta for a number of years. She has been an active member of our party both in Edmonton Riverview and on a broader pan-provincial level. Whether it be at a policy conference, a chance meeting in an airport, or through her blog, I always enjoy hearing Wendy's perspectives on the issues of the day. She is, indeed, an exceptional mind within the PC Party.
What impresses me most about Wendy is her determination in what may otherwise be viewed as the face of adversity. Often in political parties, the local party associations in areas held by Leaders of other parties tend to be rather lethargic, inactive groups who exist more for a presence rather than to affect real change. Not pcRiverview.
Under Wendy's leadership, the PC Association in Edmonton Riverview has been a real player in developing policy within our party. They have also been steadfast in communicating with Riverview residents to find out what their issues are and how they can best be addressed. It would seem this work is paying off.
Like I say, there is a lot of work to be done. The poll still puts us 7 points behind Kevin with less than two weeks to go. Given that Wendy has already grown the PC brand by 6 points and has seen her opponent drop 30 points from the last election, this is very much within reach.
I, for one, would find it exceptionally amusing if Kevin Taft's overtures to Calgary end up costing him his own seat.