The Saskatchewan Party under Brad Wall will win a majority of the 58 seats up for grabs tonight, while Dwain Lingenfelter's New Democrats will form the Official Opposition. It is no gamble to make either of these statements, as no other party is likely to win a single seat and there is virtually no chance that the NDP will overtake the SP in tonight's vote. What is unknown, however, is how large the NDP opposition will be.
Forum Research released a poll yesterday that indicates the New Democrats might form a larger opposition than some had feared. While the gap is still enormous (28 points), it is far from the 40 point gap that some polls taken at the end of October suggested.
With this poll included in the model, ThreeHundredEight projects that the Saskatchewan Party will win a larger majority government than what they had at dissolution.
The Saskatchewan Party is projected to win 43 seats, up five from dissolution. The New Democrats are projected to win 15 seats, down five.
The New Democrats are projected to win six in Regina, five in Saskatoon, three in northern Saskatchewan, and one in the south.
Forum Research indicates that the Saskatchewan Party leads the NDP in Regina and Saskatoon with about 58% to the NDP's 37%. In the 2007 election, the two parties were very close in Saskatoon but the NDP had a 12 point edge in Regina.
So if we take the numbers from Forum Research for Regina and Saskatoon and apply them to the model, we get a different result.
Not in Saskatoon, however. Even with Forum's numbers, the SP is still projected to win seven seats in Saskatoon with the NDP taking the remaining five. It increases the number of close races, though, with three NDP seats being considered close.
In Regina, on the other hand, it changes things radically. From five seats, the SP is bumped up to nine, with the NDP reduced to only two seats in Regina.
This regional model projection is based solely on Forum's numbers, however. A fully operational regional model would make a vote projection for the two main cities that would be based on all available data. So, it isn't the "official" projection but acts instead as another plausible result of tonight's vote.
What will determine the size of the NDP opposition tonight will be the results in Regina. If Forum has it accurate, and NDP support has dropped by a significant amount in the city (with virtually all of the old Liberal support going to the Saskatchewan Party), they could be in for a very rough night. If they hold tough in the provincial capital, I think they should comfortably keep themselves in the double-digits. Historic bests and worsts are still possible for both Brad Wall and Dwain Lingenfelter, but if the race has narrowed slightly we might be looking at more of a repeat of the 2007 election, with SP gains in Saskatoon and Regina.