Monday, April 2, 2012

2012 Alberta election analysis - Calgary

In my last post, I promised to do an analysis of some of the key races in the upcoming Alberta election, scheduled for April 23. I will start off by taking a look at just Calgary.

Map of the ridings

Recent polls have suggested a large lead for the Wildrose Party in Calgary, which means that all but one riding in the city is in play. That riding, in my opinion is Calgary-Glenmore, which the WRP picked up in a by-election in 2009. Incumbent Paul Hinman shouldn't have a problem winning re-election. Another riding that is probably safe for the Wildrose Party is Calgary-Fish Creek. Incumbent Heather Forsyth was elected as a Progressive Conservative, but she crossed the floor to the Wildrose Party in 2010. Other than that however, you can expect interesting races all across the city.

With the Wildrose Party poised to sweep the city at the moment, there would be too many “ridings to watch” as nearly every riding is set to be switching hands at this point. So, I will narrow it down a bit to some key races.

But first, let's look at some of the recent polls in the city (regional breakdowns from greater provincial polls):

2008 election
Forum Research (03/26)
Campaign Research (03/26)
Abacus Data (03/26-28)
Wildrose Party
Prog. Cons.

And now, some of the key races:

This seat represents Calgary's downtown core, and is represented by Liberal Kent Hehr. This riding is one of the more Liberal friendly in the city, being represented by the part for 18 of the last 25 years. In 2008 Hehr defeated his Tory opponent by a 10% margin. However this time, the true test for him will be the Wildrose Party. And they will be a wild card. Who knows how well they will do here. Wildrose didn't field a candidate in 2008, and their predecessor party, the Alberta Alliance last ran here in 2004, getting just 4% of the vote. A split right wing vote will help the Liberals keep this riding.

I have included this eastern Calgary riding as a seat to watch, because it might be the best riding of the Progressive Conservatives this election. The Tories got their second best result in the city here in 2008, when their candidate, Yvonne Fritz won 57% of the vote. The only riding where the Tories did better (Calgary-Shaw) will be an open seat this election. Therefore I think that if the Tories keep one seat in the city, it will be Calgary-Cross. The Wildrose Party won 9% of the vote in 2008, and so they will have to make up a nearly 50-point gap if they want to win this.

Calgary-Currie, located in Calgary's west end, will be an open seat, as its incumbent, Dave Taylor will not be seeking re-election. Taylor was elected in 2008 as a Liberal, but crossed the floor to join the centrist Alberta Party last year, becoming the fledgling party's only MLA. Taylor beat his Tory opponent by 1000 votes (8%) in 2008, and was first elected in 2004, becoming the riding's first non-PC MLA since it was created. Wildrose ran here in 2008 and got 5% of the vote. Without an incumbent, the riding could go to any party. The history is with the PCs, the Liberals won it last, the Alberta Party currently holds it, and the Wildrose Party leads in the city.

I suggest watching this seat for no other reason than it is the Premier's riding. If the polls are accurate, it is not inconceivable to suggest that Premier Redford will lose her seat. This riding, located in the central part of this city, has mostly voted for the Progressive Conservatives. However, it was held by the Liberals when they won it in a by-election in 2007. Previously, it was held by former Premier Ralph Klein. Redford won it back for the Tories in 2008 when she defeated the Liberal incumbent by just 400 votes. This was one of the better Wildrose ridings in the city in 2008, as they picked up 7% of the vote. That should be enough of a base to win this riding.

Calgary-Hawkwood is one of the new ridings in the city. It's located in the northwestern suburbs, and as a new riding, it will also be an open seat without any incumbents. This will make it a prime target for the Wildrose candidate, entrepreneur Dave Yager.

This suburban riding in the south end of the city will be another prime target for the Wildrose Party. Its Tory incumbent, Arthur Johnston will not be running for re-election. This was one of the best ridings for the Wildrose Party in the city in 2008. They earned 11% of the vote last election. The Tories will not give the riding up without a fight however, as they will be running former alderman Ric McIver as their candidate.

Calgary-McCall is one of the small handful of Liberal ridings in the city. It is located in the far northeastern corner of the city. The Liberals are strong in this suburban corner of the city due to its large ethnic community. Even the federal Liberals are strong in this area. The Liberals won the riding for the first time in 2008, when Darshan Kang won by just 118 votes over the Tory incumbent. The question for this riding is, how will the Wildrose Party do? I think the party might be the least appealing to this particular riding, due to its ethnic composition. For the record, they won a modest 6% of the vote in 2008.

Calgary-Mountain View
This riding is located across the Bow River from Calgary's downtown, and is centrally located. It has been represented by former Liberal leader David Swann since 2004. It is one of Calgary's more left wing ridings, and it even elected an NDPer in the 1980s. It is the “safest” Liberal seat in the city, as Swann won it in 2008 with 52% of the vote. But no seat is really safe with the Wildrose surge in the city. The WRP won 6% of the vote in 2008.

Calgary-North West
This riding, located in suburban northwestern Calgary will an open seat, as it incumbent, Tory Lindsay Blackett will be retiring. Blackett won just 46% of the vote in 2008, and without an incumbent, the Tories will be sure to lose this seat. The Wildrose Party had a strong result last election, winning 15% of the vote. The WRP will be running businessman Chris Challis.

Calgary-Shaw is another open seat that the Tories are vacating. This was the strongest PC riding in all of Calgary in 2008, winning 58% of the vote here. However, the incumbent, Cindy Ady will be retiring. The Tories will face a tough challenge from the Wildrose Party, which did moderately well here, winning 11% in 2008. The Tories are running lawyer Farouk Adatia. The Wildrose will be running Jeff Wilson, an account executive.

Calgary-South East
This large suburban riding is a brand new riding, and thus will be an open seat. Its suburban demographics coupled with a lack of incumbency will make the riding a likely pickup for Wildrose candidate Bill Jarvis, another businessman.

Calgary-West is another open seat, which is being vacated by the Tory incumbent, Ron Liepert. Liepert won the seat in 2008 with just 48% of the vote. The Liberals have historically been strong here as well, and they came in second here with 32% in 2008. The Wildrose also did fairly well here, picking up 13%. They should be able to pick up the seat with their candidate, Andrew Constantinidis, an oil sands executive.

Calgary-Varsity, another open seat is being vacated by a Liberal, this time. Incumbent Harry Chase will be retiring, leaving the seat vulnerable. Chase has held the seat since becoming the first Liberal to win it in 2004. He won in 2008, defeated his Tory opponent by a comfortable 1600 votes. The Wildrose candidate meanwhile won 7% of the vote. Will that be enough of a starting point for the WRP to win this seat? Their candidate, Rob Solinger will hope so.


  1. I'm watching Calgary-Fort, Fort was the only riding in 2008 to have a PC incumbent both lose popular vote and percentage of popular vote in the city, and if I remember correctly the entire province. I think its a very telling sign of a weak incumbent.

  2. It's also the NDP's best riding in the city, not that they have any chance of winning it. I left it out because I didn't see anything terribly interesting about it.

  3. The Liberals were once a threat in certain seats, now they will be LUCKY to hold any of them... and possibly losing their Edmonton seats (but i expect your working on an Edmonton run down, so i wait with baited-breath). The NDP used to be competative in Mountain View and Forest Lawn (now McCall) if the NDP wants to win these really are the two ridings they should focus on... for future wins. Did i say i was looking forward to an Edmonton overview :)

  4. My take is that no riding is safe anymore for the PC in Calgary. The margin is just too big right now except for very strong incumbents.

    However, Calgary-Buffalo could actually be a PC pickup due to vote splitting. The best place that the PC could resist in any way is Edmonton.

    One thing which is important would be turnout. I would not be surprised at all if the turnout this provincial election is the the highest in decades. This could change the cards in a few ridings.

  5. As an "ethnic" voter in Calgary-McCall, your bias against conservatives is so obvious. Not only is our candidate a community leader who has proven experience working with people from all members of the community, his campaign manager is "ethnic". Please do more research before you conclude that our candidate won't attract the diverse members of our riding.

  6. Hi anonymous, sorry about that. It is true that Conservatives of all stripes have been able to court ethnic minorities quite well in Alberta. However, it is quite obvious that the strong Liberal showings in an otherwise suburban riding like Calgary-McCall didn't come out of nowhere. Clearly it has to do something with its high ethnic population. Anyways, it's a moot point because the Liberals will more than likely lose the riding.

    Oh, and I will be doing Edmonton next, when I get the chance. I am thinking nearly every riding will be a riding to watch.

    Also, I do expect turnout will be very high this time, because the race will actually be competitive for the first time in 40 years.

  7. As a so-called ethnic (South Asian) small-l liberal, I would like to point out that Somali and Vietnamese businesses have been the most prominent displayers of Wildrose signs in Edmonton. Who knew? AB is a funny kind of place that takes stereotypes and turns them around on their head. Keep up the good work on your blog and hope to see the edmotnon report soon !

  8. Thanks a lot for posting this. I'm in Calgary-Shaw and would vote NDP if I were voting my preference, but will vote PC if there's some chance of helping take a seat away from the WR.

  9. Ahh, so there are left wing people voting Tory to stop Wildrose!