Hey Regina! Guess where I am. I’ll give you hints: The coffee’s pretty good and I’ve a lovely view over my right shoulder of a strip mall parking lot.
No. It’s not Tim Hortons. Good guess.
Anyway, I’m not here to play guessing games. Or, rather, I am here to play a guessing game but of a completely different sort!
Alberta goes to the polls today in a historically hyped election. And the question on everybody’s lips is will the election live up to the hype and conclude with a massive political shake up? Or will we have another restoration of the status quo?
I have absolutely no idea!
When I first arrived in Edmonton, lo so many days ago, I was convinced that, despite all the chatter about an NDP surge, the PCs would defy the polls once again and come back with another majority government. I just can’t imagine an NDP-led Alberta. It’s like a Lovecraft monster or quantum mechanics: Sure, you can write words about them but you can never satisfactorily hold the concepts within the meat of a mere human brain.
Maybe if I injected strange hallucinogenic compounds into my tear ducts or licked toads I’d be able to accept all the polls saying “NDP for the win” but to even contemplate such an ontological shift in Alberta politics would lead one ineluctably towards madness.
Just by writing this blog post, I fear for my sanity.
And yet, there are clues writ in the yawning vacuousness of the media-sphere suggesting that our naked minds will have to wrestle with the reality of an NDP win tonight. Here are the three I’ll dare to write down…
First, the politico-numerologists at ThreeHundredEight, a website that aggregates data from multiple polls, has a breakdown of predictions in each Alberta riding and it is POWERFULLY orange-heavy. In other words, we’re not just talking about one or two polls predicting an NDP win, it seems to be all of them.
But then, does that really matter? All of the polls have been all-the-way wrong before. Perhaps we sit at the dawn of a post-poll age?
But then, second, there’s the fact that the Alberta NDP have pulled off something I never thought a left-wing party could do in this country: a near-perfect campaign. Say what you want about their policies but leader Rachel Notley and her team have not committed any of the
gaffs gaffes and slip-ups that helped sink the Wildrose Party in the last election. More than anything, this makes me think there won’t be a mass retreat of support to the PCs at the last minute.
Third and finally, there’s the strange fact of that last, poll-defying election in Alberta… Stay with me here but I think that that was when the province signalled that it had shifted to the NDP.
Yes, this was the election to see the righter-wing Wildrose rise to prominence. And yes, the province once again restored the PCs to power. But that only happened because of a massive mobilization of provincial progressives who saw the Wildrose as serious threat.
People who were traditionally inclined towards the NDP, Liberals or Greens got behind the PC’s leader, Alison Redford. They were able to get behind her talk about social spending and support for education. She was their candidate. Their faith may have turned out to have been misplaced but it doesn’t change the fact that they were the ones who put Redford over the top.
And now, with the Wildrose and PCs splitting the vote in rural Alberta and in parts of Calgary, the progressives in Alberta may once again be in a position to decide the outcome of an election. And this time, a leader has emerged in one of the parties they’d normally be inclined to vote for.
I think a lot of the left-wing and centre-left voters who stayed home during all those past elections where Alberta was basically a one-party state will show up and give Notley one hell of a boost.
But I guess we’ll see tonight.
Personally, I’m still betting on a PC win. What do you think I am? Insane?