The provincial election may not have officially been called yet, but seeing as the latest it could be held is on May 31, there are only a few short months before Albertans will be asked to elect their new leader.
ThinkHQ published what is likely to be the first of many polls gauging the approval of the province’s prospective leaders on February 22, and found that the two front-runners, NDP’s Rachel Notley and UCP’s Jason Kenney, were nearly neck and neck in early 2019.
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The study was fielded online between January 31 to February 6 to a sample size of 1,158 Albertans.
Notley actually saw a slight lead in approval over Kenney, with 44% of ThinkHQ’s respondents approving of the current premier, while 43% approved the leader of her opposition.
That point in favour of Notley is weighed against a somewhat more significant lead in disproval rating as well, however, where it was found that 51% of participants stated that they disprove of the NDP leader compared to Kenney’s 45%.
That 6% divide was made up entirely of those stating that they “somewhat” disapprove, though, while both leaders were exactly tied as far as strong opinions for or against were concerned: Both leaders saw 21% strongly approving and 36% strongly disapproving.
Looking at respondents based on region and gender, it’s clear that Notley was more popular with females and Edmontonians, while Kenney took the favour of rural respondents.
According to ThinkHQ’s data, Notley’s approval disparity is much worse than it was when she was elected back in 2015, though it has actually been getting better after the initial dip in her first year of leadership.
At it’s worst, Notley saw a 59% disproval rating weighed against just 35% approval.
Whether that gap will continue to close as we head further towards the 2019 election remains to be seen, but, given ThinkHQ’s data, it’s clear that it could be anyone’s ballgame.