Ralph's unexpected plummet

Breaking news (for me, at least.. I don't have cable TV):

The Calgary SUN is reporting Ralph Klein, Premier of Alberta and the longest serving active Premier in the country, got a shocking 55% approval rating at the Tory Convention yesterday.

Are you sure this isn't an April fools joke?? I mean, we didn't expect Ralphie to get the massive endorsement he got last time (97% in 2003), but we still expected that a lowball estimate was 70%. 55.4% is astoundingly small.

The question is where did it come from? Oberg's ranting and raving may have won attention in Liberal and NDP membership circles, but party faithful shouldn't have been overly worked up over it. The throwing a booklet at a Legislature Page (only 17 years old, a fact the Edmonton Journal once went 12 words into a story on the incident without reporting) was fairly harmful and damaging, but that shouldn't have translated more than 10-15% of a drop, still leaving Klein well above 80% approval. Was it the "Third Way" on healthcare? Again, 90% of letters in the Globe and Mail oppose it, but that's hardly going to sway delegates at a provincial PC leadership convention.

I think I may have a theory. Well, I know I have a theory. I think it may be right. The answer comes from the storiesposted to the wire services around 11pm, before the results were known: Google News still shows these in the archives, but I'm unable to get a cache of the page. (Why doesn't Google News cache?)

  • Klein begs for 2 more years as Premier (Toronto Star, 4 hours ago):
    CALGARY — Alberta Premier Ralph Klein pleaded for his political future Friday, begging his Conservative party faithful to let him retain his job for another ...

  • Klein appeals for final endorsement
    (Globe and Mail, 4 hours ago):
    Calgary — Alberta Premier Ralph Klein pleaded with his party Friday night to not send him into retirement earlier than he'd like, as he pledged to keep the ...
  • Klein begs Tory faithful for right to stay as premier for another ... (940 News, 4 hours ago):
    CALGARY (CP) - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein pleaded for his political future Friday, begging his Conservative party faithful to let him retain his job for ...
The reposting of the CP wire text in the last entry is unimportant. The issue is, I believe, the headlines:
Ralph Klein was begging and pleading for his job. From his 4 terms in Calgary to his 4 terms in Alberta, Klein has never "pleaded" in an election. Every contest, even at its dimmest, was done boldly and with pride and poise. Now the delegates seemingly (the MSM biases might be rearing their ugly heads here) were subjected to a side of Klein they never ever wanted to see. Ralphie was weak. Ralphie was feeble. For Christ's sake, if the headlines in these newspapers was accurate, he sounded like a damned woman!

I don't have many of the facts, but I believe that if Klein had come up there, done an "aw shucks" or a bold speech of some sort, he would have garnished that 75% that "political observers" believe he needed. Instead though, delegates saw him as being old and tired, the pejorative which those of us typically associated with the right-wing Klein opposition have been using since about 1998.

So that's my working theory: Ralphie screwed up big time. He needed to show his charm, his personality, his attitude that he's the best man for the job and that he doesn't need to address the subject specifically because its so painfully obvious that it must never be explicitly stated.

Ralph Klein has failed. And in his place, a ragtag group of unappealing non-drinkers who might well hand the Alberta Alliance a minority government. (Or the Liberals, but lets be serious here).