James Bergmann 10yrs waits at the window for Wildrose leader Danielle Smith as she stops to talk to the media at fellow Wildrose candidate Corrie Adolph's campaign office in SW Calgary, Alberta on April 17,2012.
Credits: STUART DRYDEN/CALGARY SUN/QMI AGENCY
Leger Marketing, a large national polling firm, released a survey Tuesday of voter intentions in the upcoming provincial election.
There is nothing particularly remarkable in the results. Leger has the Wildrose party in the low to mid-40s and the Tories in the low to mid-30s. The Liberal and NDP dim bulbs are getting dimmer by the day.
These numbers are similar to those released in the last week by the other three major polling firms monitoring the Alberta election, including Abacus Data on behalf of Sun News Network.
But that's what's significant. Until now, Leger's numbers had diverged from Abacus's and the others'. Until now, Leger had the Tories and Wildrose in a statistical dead heat. Leger was the one pollster showing the Tories still with a chance to win.
The fact that all four firms are now in rough agreement - despite using different samples and canvassing techniques - gives credibility to a single overall trend: Alberta is headed toward a Wildrose government, likely a majority Wildrose government.
Leger now shows Wildrose at 42% support, up from 33% when the campaign began. Tory support has slipped slightly from 37% to 36%.
The Tories appear to be gaining support on the left - a feature identified in last week's Sun Media/Abacus survey, too. This is especially true in Calgary where Liberals appear to be abandoning their party for the very liberal Tories of Alison Redford.
Calgary Liberals, it would seem, either fear a Wildrose government - so are planning to vote strategically for the Tories to prevent Danielle Smith and her party from winning - or they sense in Redford a like-minded individual they are comfortable with.
Maybe Liberals are rushing to the Tories because they see in Redford their ideology's best-ever chance of running Alberta. Redford certainly is a CINO - Conservative in Name Only.
If the Liberals can't have one of their own sitting in the big chair under the dome, they appear only too happy to settle for Redford.
After all, in just seven short months as premier, Redford has brought in a lot of big-spending, nanny-state policies usually associated with Liberals or even New Democrats.
If the premier had her way, she'd seize your car if you got caught having a glass of wine with dinner at a restaurant then driving home. Never mind what the Criminal Code says about impaired driving (it allows a glass of wine), Redford knows better than Ottawa what drivers should and shouldn't be allowed to do.
Under Redford, the Tories have cranked up provincial spending to $41.1 billion - an all-time record. At nearly $11,000 in expenditures for every man, woman and child in the province, the Redford Tories are by far the freest spending government in the country.
And during this campaign, Redford and the Tories have made more spending promises than any other party, including the Liberals and NDP. According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the Tories' pledges of tax breaks for teachers, new schools, new buildings at universities, new tax credits for seniors and new health spending could add up to $4 billion more to the province's books.
No wonder Liberals have warmed to Redford so much.
What Leger and the other pollsters have not captured yet is the fallout - if any - from Wildrose's "bozo eruptions" this week - a pastor/candidate in Edmonton who said gays will burn in hell and a pastor/candidate in Calgary who said he would be the best choice for his riding because he is a Caucasian.
Fear of Wildrose's unreadiness remains the party's Achilles heel. Only the Sun News-Abacus poll due Saturday is likely to show whether these incidents have dented Wildrose's lead.