Another poll shows Alberta's election race narrowing - but voters are split on regional breakdowns in the province's two major cities.
Wildrose has slipped slightly overall to 40 per cent, down three points from last week, with the PCs up to 33 per cent from 31 per cent last week, according to polling conducted Monday evening by Forum Research Inc.
It's the second poll on Monday to show a seven-point lead, with the PCs recovering but Wildrose remaining in majority territory. At these numbers, Wildrose is forecast by Forum to win 55 of the province's 87 seats.
The slip is “most likely based on recent controversies” that Wildrose has faced, Forum president Lorne Bozinoff said in a written statement. These include questions about the party's stance on abortion (they've pledged not to reopen the issue), conscience rights (party members voted to support them, allowing professionals to opt out of a service based on religious beliefs), gay rights (a Wildrose candidate is under fire for a blog entry in which he wrote gays would be sent to the “eternal lake of fire, hell”) and climate change (an issue the Wildrose leader says is unsettled), all of which have boiled over in recent days.
The poll paints a different picture, however, of regional breakdowns. A Return on Insight poll earlier Monday showed Wildrose slightly behind the PCs in Calgary and slightly ahead in Edmonton - pegged, the polling firm said, to a collapse in Liberal support in Calgary.
No such collapse was noted in the Forum poll, which showed Wildrose at 46 per cent in Calgary, with the PCs at 32 per cent. In Edmonton, the PCs are at 38 per cent, with Wildrose at 26 per cent.
The Forum poll also showed PC Leader Alison Redford's approval rating edged up three points, from 38 per cent to 41 per cent, while Wildrose leader Danielle Smith's slipped slightly, from 48 per cent to 46 per cent. Both moves are roughly within the margin of error, and Ms. Smith's net score - that is, the people who like her as compare to the people who don't - is +6 per cent, while Ms. Redford's is -6 per cent.
The poll came several days after the first leaders' debate, and two-thirds of poll respondents said they tuned in to all or part of the debate, which was carried on several TV and radio stations. Ms. Smith scored best on “every measure” of debate performance, Forum found, including 36 per cent saying she won, as compared to 21 per cent saying Ms. Redford did.
Of those polled, 58 per cent said the debate either changed their mind or helped them make up their mind.