Monday, April 4, 2016

Saskatchewan Votes (today)

Today is the Saskatchewan election, and I estimate about 425,000 people will go out to cast ballots, with the majority of them voting for continuing on the conservative SaskParty government of Brad Wall.

I think we all knew that was coming. Wall has maintained a steady and impressive lead over the rival New Democrats, with his closest and lowest margin between 52-34 in late February, a margin that has only grown since then to roughly 30%, or 60-30.

If we assume that 60-30 is the result tonight, that represents a drop for both parties from 2011 (64.3% and 31.9%). This is mostly due to the renewed presence of the Saskatchewan Liberals, who only managed 0.6% in 2011 but will probably score higher than the Greens (2.9% in 2011) this go around, though not significantly higher and they will struggle to break through even to second place in any ridings. Their presence still has an effect however, with a possible spoiler role for some Liberal candidates in close margins between the SaskParty and NDP (most likely to the benefit of the SaskParty), as well as reducing the percentage of votes both the larger parties will receive because math.

However, there may indeed be some seats changing hands this election to the benefit of Cam Broten and the NDP, even if the overall numbers have not changed much. Two reasons:

1. Regina's numbers have shifted favourably towards the NDP. According to 308's aggregate, pollsters have pegged the numbers in Regina at 48.5% SaskParty to 42.2% NDP. This is not a huge movement, no, but it could put more easily into play a couple of area ridings, specifically Regina Douglas Park (about 5% margin in 2011) and, if they're lucky, Regina Pasqua (14.3% margin) and Regina University (13.9% margin) where no SaskParty incumbents are running.

2. Close races throughout. While the Liberals will probably spoil some close races, ridings like Moose Jaw Wakamow (1.2% margin in favour of the NDP) and Prince Albert Carlton (4.4% margin), where the margin is minimal or redistribution, specifically in the case of Moose Jaw Wakamow, has flipped the riding to the NDP. In Saskatoon, where the polls have painted a much less rosy picture for the NDP, there still exist some close races, specifically thinking here of Saskatoon Fairview (1.7% margin) which could easily flip if given the chance and a good candidate.

There are a lot of caveats, of course. I believe Regina Douglas Park is less likely to flip NDP than a riding like Regina University, thanks to the presence of the Green Party's leader, Victor Lau, who earned just under 6% support in 2011, as well as the marginally stronger Liberal candidate - there is no reason to expect either third party candidate to pull in any less this time around, and given that there is no precipitous drop for the SaskParty and barely a bump for the NDP, Douglas Park may be hard to flip. The Liberal Party's leader Darrin Lamoureux is running in Regina Pasqua, and we could see a similar spoiled flip for the NDP there depending upon his strength in the district.

Even if the best case scenario happens in all these ridings, it will put the NDP nowhere near government, so don't expect any head scratching tonight.

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