"Voters are increasingly cynical," said Clifton van der Linden, the founder and CEO of Vote Compass and assistant professor of political science and director of the Digital Society Lab at McMaster University.
"That cynicism," he added in an interview with CBC News, "translates into a lack of faith and lack of confidence in the integrity of the … political leader to govern in the way that citizens would hope to be governed."
Tens of thousands of Albertans participated in CBC News' Vote Compass online tool since the 2023 election campaign began in early May.
In addition to a list of 30 questions about policy preferences, leadership impression and core values, Vote Compass also asked its users in recent days three questions about their certainty, ease of decision-making and motivation surrounding their vote.
Voting for the least worst candidate
According to weighted results of nearly 8,000 Vote Compass users, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of respondents who had made up their mind who to vote for, said they opted for a "candidate because the alternative is worse."
So, Vote Compass data pointing toward cynical Alberta voters comes as no surprise.
"I actually think it is rather reflective of the general sense of cynicism, cynicism that beset the Canadian population, and democratic populations around the world," said van der Linden.
Which of the following best describes your motivation to vote in this election?
Three-quarters of Alberta Party supporters (74 per ent) and Liberal voters (76 per cent) notably said they chose those parties' candidates over the alternatives.
About six in 10 United Conservative Party and NDP supporters also told CBC News' voter engagement tool they opted for those two parties as the less bad option.
Vote Motivation by Party
A certain and easy choice
Despite their cynicism, three-quarters of people who responded to Vote Compass reported that it was very easy or somewhat easy to make their choice.
Only 22 per cent of respondents to the online civic engagement tool, which was developed by a team of political scientists and aims to help users navigate Alberta's political landscape, say it was very or somewhat difficult to make up their mind about which party to cast a ballot for in Alberta's provincial election.
How difficult was it for you to decide how you would vote in this election?
Nearly six in 10 (56 per cent) of Vote Compass users said they were certain about their vote.
"I would say [they] are the committed voters who, in all likelihood, had made up their minds long before the election kicked off," said van der Linden.
These voters, says the McMaster University political scientist, are likely the diehard UCP and NDP partisans.
Non-partisans, says van der Linden, likely were less certain about their vote.
Unlike online opinion polls, respondents to Vote Compass are not pre-selected. Similar to opinion polls, however, the data are a non-random sample from the population and have been weighted to approximate a representative sample.
Vote Compass data have been weighted by gender, age, education, region, and partisanship to ensure the sample's composition reflects that of the actual population of Alberta according to census data and other population estimates.
Developed by a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is a civic engagement application offered in Alberta exclusively by CBC Radio-Canada. All of the findings will be based on the responses we get during a particular time. The data in this email came from May 26 -29. See graphs for the number of respondents per question.