It's probably still possible for Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party to crawl back from the abyss -- if you believe in miracles -- but it's increasingly hard to believe they can do it with Alison Redford at the helm.
The numbers in the Leger poll published this morning by the Calgary Herald are not just ugly, bad for Alberta's PC government or horrible, as various prognosticators put it in the mainstream media, they're practically fatal all on their own!
One more poll like this and members of Redford's Progressive Conservative caucus will have but two courses of action left to them: find a way to skid the premier and elect a new leader, and it may already be too late for that, or start polishing up their resumes.
The Leger poll shows the Redford Tories at a piteous 25-per-cent level of support among committed voters, compared with 38 per cent for the Wildrose Party, 16 per cent for the Liberals and 15 per cent for the NDP.
There are plenty of examples of recent polls that were wrong or misleading, as supporters of the government are certain to assert -- but seen as part of a continuum, these numbers are just the latest and lowest point a steady trend downward for the once undefeatable PCs under Redford's self-absorbed and erratic leadership.
Promises to do better with one group or another that's found itself for a spell on the Redford Enemies List, accordingly, are unlikely to count for much.
Worse for the government, as the Herald pointed out in its coverage of the latest Leger numbers, the poll illustrates a trend from last fall when the Wildrose and PCs were virtually tied -- and other private polls referred to in this blog taken in the same time frame showed the same thing.
Moreover, the last-minute shift back to the PCs in the 2012 general election -- abetted by blunders by inexperienced Wildrose candidates -- depended on the high regard in which Redford herself was held by progressive voters who became fair-weather Tories to help elect her to the leadership and stuck by her through the election.
Redford has now squandered that good will. After two years of broken promises, it will be extremely difficult for her to recover it.
Thus the premier's own approval rating lags her party’s pathetic results -- 20 per cent of the respondents in the online Leger poll who approved of the way she's doing her job versus the 64 per cent who disapproved of her efforts.
In other words, after her high-priced travel at public expense, her wars with various groups of her former supporters, public worries about her government's unconstitutional legislation and that stream of broken promises, Redford's reputation is in tatters and her polling numbers are in free fall. Her party is merely following her down.
How bad is it? Eric Grenier, author of the ThreeHundredEight.com blog, crunched the numbers to come up with a prediction that if a general election were held tomorrow there would be a 58-seat Wildrose Party majority, a Liberal Official Opposition with 11 seats, and the New Democrats and Tories tied with nine seats each.
This seems unreasonably kind to the Liberals, but given the present state of affairs it is hardly unbelievable.
One of those nine Tory seats, I have heard, would belong to Edmonton Whitemud MLA Dave Hancock -- so, while it's not quite the judgeship or whatever it was the deputy premier was holding out for, Hancock at least could end his political career as leader of the Alberta Conservatives.
Party "old boys" are easy to sneer at -- and I admit I've done my share of sneering at the PC Party old boys of Alberta. Nevertheless, stereotypical as it may seem, political old boys (and girls) get to be that way by hanging around for a long time and learning the ropes.
Alert readers will recall how Gary Mar was the choice of the old boys and it must be said now that it's hard to imagine how Mar, warts and all, could have done worse than Redford.
Poor old Ed Stelmach, of whom his own party had tired by 2011, positively towers over the premier in retrospect.
Hard as it is to believe, after nearly 43 years since the PC dynasty was founded by Peter Lougheed, it's really starting to look as if, thanks to Redford's remarkable efforts, the end is nigh!
And to think, one of St. Peter's last acts was to all but endorse her! Talk about irony.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
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