Danielle Smith starts the 2023 election favored but the NDP is clearly competitive

These days, I post a lot more on Twitter than on my site, so follow me there for more updates. Still, it's good to have posts on the site with updates throughout the election. So here's a quick post as a starting point for the 2023 Alberta election.

The polls have been better for the UCP over the last few months (after Kenney left and Danielle Smith took over) but it remains a dead heat for the popular vote. With that said, let's remember that polls have a strong tendency to underestimate the PC/UCP and overestimate the NDP in Alberta. In 2019, the polls were actually quite off, especially in the rest of Alberta. I do a simple average of the polls (no fancy weights based on the so-called reliability of the polling firm of whether the sample is a little bit bigger; It's all a waste of time as I have systematically got a better polling average than sites who use such fancy techniques) but I don't allocate undecided proportionally. I have talked extensively about this, but long story short, polls tend to underestimate incumbents and large parties. So, right now, I'm giving 60% of undecided to the UCP and 40% to the NDP. I might change that during the campaign but it makes the most sense to me right now.

As for the model, I use a simple uniform swing because it works great. I do make adjustments per region to account for within-province realignments. Right now, the provincial swing slightly underestimates the NDP in Calgary but overestimates it in Edmonton. You can always make your own adjustments in the simulator. One 'fancy' technique I'm using is I used the 2019 to 2021 swing at the federal level and I identified 7 ridings where the LPC+NDP swing was much higher (and the CPC decreased more). They are Calgary Cross, East, Falconridge, Foothills, McCall, North and North-East. I assume that this means these ridings are turning more progressive and I therefore adjust the NDP more. Yes provincial and federal politics aren't the same but the ridings identified here makes sense.

Anyway, here are the projections with the map and the riding by riding projections. It's close in the sense that a typical poling error could result in a NDP victory, but the UCP is clearly favored. See it this way, for the NDP to win, it needs to basically win 19 in Calgary (versus only 3 in 2019...). It could win 17 or 18 and make 1-2 extra gains in the Edmonton donuts (or win Lesser Slave Lake in the rest of Alberta). It's a path but it's a narrow one with basically no mistake allowed. I personally think that unless the NDP starts polling clearly ahead in Calgary (and it isn't right now), the UCP will prevail. But the simple fact that the UNITED Conservatives have 'only' a 72% chance of winning is pretty crazy.

Interactive version here: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/bryan.breguet/viz/Albertaprojections2023/Sheet1

Riding by riding can be found here or click on the picture below.