Canada’s two youngest premiers will be asking voters in their respective provinces for a second mandate this fall, and unless a major shift in support occurs on the campaign trail both should easily win another four years in office.
Both Robert Ghiz of Prince Edward Island and Brad Wall of Saskatchewan enjoy high approval ratings and their respective parties are leading their rivals by wide margins in the polls. And while the re-election of these incumbent governments might be the safest electoral bet to make this fall, both races could still have some surprises.
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I have not begun work on the models for Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan, but will do so soon. Manitoba is all but done and I will tackle Newfoundland and Labrador next, before moving on to PEI and Saskatchewan.
Things to watch for in these two elections:
- Can the Liberals sweep all 27 seats in Prince Edward Island? The potential is there, and it would not be a great departure from PEI's recent electoral history.
- Will Brad Wall capitalize on his high approval ratings to win an even bigger majority than he did in 2007? There were not a lot of marginal NDP seats in the last election, so the Saskatchewan Party would need a big boost to win a lot of new seats.
- Can the PEI New Democrats return to the legislature? Will the Progressive Conservatives survive? This could be an opportunity for the NDP to form the Official Opposition with a single MLA.
- How has the federal NDP's success transfered over to the provinces? In PEI it might help elect an MLA, but in Saskatchewan it could throw a wrench in Wall's works.
- And can the Liberals hold on to third spot in Saskatchewan?
It seems highly improbable that Ghiz or Wall could be defeated, but these elections still will have some interesting storylines. The Manitoba election could have a big influence on Saskatchewan as well, as the re-election of the NDP in that province would certainly boost Dwain Lingenfelter's chances - perhaps not for winning the election, but improving upon 2007's results.
My column in The Hill Times would normally appear today, but it is on hiatus for the summer and will return in September.