Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New poll shows how Saskatchewan is a province to watch

A new Insightrix Research poll was published yesterday, showing the race in Saskatchewan could be closer than it has been in over 30 years. But the regional breakdowns, provided to me by Insightrix, show that there are battlegrounds all over Saskatchewan.

Overall, the Conservatives led in Saskatchewan with 39%, followed closely by the New Democrats at 35%. The Liberals were third with 21%, while 5% supported the Greens.

Another 1% opted for another party, while 10% said they were undecided.

This aligns closely with some of the polling we have seen from EKOS Research, which includes a breakdown for Saskatchewan but never has a large enough sample to really say anything definitive.

It also means that, since the 2011 vote, the Conservatives are down 17 points, the NDP is up three, and the Liberals are up 12.

But most interesting from the poll is the breakdown for the province. We never get to see those kinds of numbers.

Regina is the big surprise. It shows the Liberals narrowly leading with 35%, followed by the Conservatives at 34% and the NDP at 27%. On the face of it, this would suggest the city is up for grabs. But Regina includes Ralph Goodale's riding of Regina-Wascana, and if Goodale takes some 60% of the vote or so, which is where the projection model puts him, the Liberals could be polling in the high-teens in the city's other ridings. That means that, despite the close overall race, the Liberals may not be in a position to make any gains.

The New Democrats are looking very strong in Saskatoon, where they lead with 39% to 32% for the Tories and 23% for the Liberals.

Perhaps most surprising, though, is that the New Democrats are also very competitive in northern and southern Saskatchewan. They are running neck-and-neck with the Conservatives in the north, and are only seven points behind the Tories in the south. If that vote is concentrated in the right places, the NDP could potentially win a seat or two outside of Regina and Saskatoon.

Of course, the samples are small. The margin of error of a probabilistic sample of similar size would be eight or nine points in Regina and Saskatoon, which could change things dramatically. That increases to 10 points in the north, and is a little more than six points in the south. And since we don't have any other numbers to compare these to, we have to take those margins of error into consideration.

So that could, on the one hand, mean the Conservatives are not in much danger outside of the two big cities, and could be leading comfortably in Regina. Saskatoon, at best for the Tories, would be a close race. But on the other hand, it could also mean that the NDP is leading in every part of the province. It will be interesting to see if more polls come out for Saskatchewan in order to shed a little more light on the state of the race in this new battleground.