Alberta Premier Alison Redford speaks to the media at the Alberta Legislature Building in Edmonton on Monday, March 5, 2012.
Credits: ODIE MCLACHLANQMI AGENCY
CALGARY -- Hope of a majority government could be slipping from the Tory grasp if numbers from a new electoral poll hold up.
The QMI/Sun News-Abacus Data poll conducted last week shows the PC lead over their right-wing Wildrose Party foes narrowing dramatically, to a count of 34% against 29%.
One survey from late February showed the lead of a Tory party under the leadership of Premier Alison Redford at 14.6 percentage points.
As Albertans edge closer to an expected spring election, voters are taking note of issues such as health care and a Tory party seen increasingly as long in the tooth, Abacus Data CEO David Coletto said.
"The honeymoon is over for Alison Redford ... these little things keep eating away at her character and credibility," he said.
"If the alliance can take advantage of them, they can be successful."
The canvas of 947 adult Albertans March 5-7 also shows definite lines of fortune diverging between Alberta's two largest cities, with the PCs dominating Edmonton by an almost two-to-one margin, while the two parties are in a virtual dead heat in Calgary.
The Calgary tug-of-war should prove decisive, along with ridings north of Edmonton, Coletto said.
"Calgary will be where the battle royale will be -- all of the ridings will be two-way races, except for some in the inner city which have been held by the Liberals," he said.
"Edmonton has almost become the Tory base."
Also greatly in play are rural ridings, said Coletto, where the Tories have traditionally been strong.
"It doesn't look good for the Tories -- they can't take those for granted anymore," he said.
Overall, the Liberals scored 18%, with the NDP at 14%, suggesting both risk losing even more support among those fearful of a Wildrose victory, Coletto said.
"Can Redford convince Liberals and some NDPs that she's a safer vote for them, looking at it strategically?" he said.
Still, an untested Wildrose face the challenge of convincing a wide swath of voters they can be trusted -- a case in point being women who favour Redford over Smith in likability by 33% versus 25%.
"Women generally support the centre-left ... she is reaching out to urban women and men are more likely to support Wildrose," Coletto said.
He noted the poll was conducted just before controversies erupted over MLA pay for a non-active committee and a controversial fundraiser by former Tory leadership candidate Gary Mar.
"These are not huge issues but it could be a death of a thousand cut for the Tories," Coletto said.
"The race is tighter but the Tories still have an advantage."
The random poll is considered accurate within 3.2% percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
EDITORS NOTE: Tune to Sun News for more on the QMI/Sun News-Abacus Data poll. Shaw Digital 177.