With the official start of the Saskatchewan provincial election campaign less than two weeks away, Brad Wall's governing Saskatchewan Party holds a comfortable lead in a new poll — and is well-placed to win a majority government, according to the CBC's Saskatchewan Poll Tracker.
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Published Thursday, the poll by Mainstreet Research for the Postmedia chain awarded the Saskatchewan Party 52 per cent support among decided and leaning voters, compared to 34 per cent for Cam Broten's New Democrats. The Liberals followed with 10 per cent support and the Greens with 4 per cent. In all, 13 per cent of respondents said they were undecided.
According to the CBC Saskatchewan Poll Tracker, the Saskatchewan Party would likely win between 42 and 51 seats if the election were held today. The New Democrats would likely capture between 10 and 19 seats.
While that is an improvement over the nine seats the NDP won in 2011, it does not put them in a position to put a Saskatchewan Party majority victory into doubt. Even at the minimum projected range, the Saskatchewan Party is still estimated to be able to win 36 seats.
The threshold for a majority government is 31 seats in the 61-seat Saskatchewan legislature.
The CBC Saskatchewan Poll Tracker will follow the evolution of polling trends and likely seat outcomes throughout the provincial election campaign. It will be updated whenever new polls for the election are published. You can visit the page for a full explanation of how the Poll Tracker works.
Slide in Sask Party support
But despite the strong overall numbers for the Saskatchewan Party in Mainstreet's new poll, the trend line is not heading in a positive direction for Brad Wall's government.
This latest survey from Mainstreet marks a four-point slide for the Saskatchewan Party compared to Mainstreet's previous survey of Feb. 11. And since Jan. 4 the party has seen its support drop by seven points, with the New Democrats picking up six points over that time.
This slide for the Saskatchewan Party has helped the New Democrats close the gap in Regina and Saskatoon. Mainstreet put the Saskatchewan Party ahead with 45 per cent to 37 per cent for the NDP in Regina, while the gap was just three points in Saskatoon (45 to 42 per cent). In both cities, the margin has shrunk by four points since Feb. 11.
But the problem for the New Democrats is that they continue to trail the Saskatchewan Party by a very wide margin outside of these cities. Mainstreet pegged Wall's party at 57 per cent in this region, with the NDP at just 30 per cent.
That lead puts the Saskatchewan Party in position to win 29 to 31 seats outside of Regina and Saskatoon — almost alone enough to secure a re-elected majority government for Brad Wall.
A closer race in Regina and Saskatoon will be necessary for the NDP to better its score of the 2011 provincial election. But the Saskatchewan Party's wide lead in the rural parts of the province gives Brad Wall a huge electoral advantage — one that will be difficult for the New Democrats to overcome.
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The poll by Mainstreet Research was conducted for Postmedia on February 23, 2016, interviewing 1,579 eligible voters in Saskatchewan via interactive voice response. The margin of error associated with the survey is +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.
CBC's Saskatchewan Poll Tracker aggregates all publicly released polls, weighing them by sample size, date and the polling firm's accuracy record. Upper and lower ranges are based on how polls have performed in other recent elections. The seat projection model makes individual projections for all ridings in the province, based on regional shifts in support since the last three elections. The projections are subject to the margins of error of the opinion polls included in the model, as well as the unpredictable nature of politics at the riding level. The polls included in the model vary in size, date and method, and have not been individually verified by the CBC. You can read the full methodology here.