The Pollcast: Breaking down the Manitoba election

Another election on the Prairies is off and running as Manitoba's campaign officially begins. Can Greg Selinger's NDP survive one more time, or will the PCs finally make the jump from the opposition to the government benches? Host Éric Grenier is joined by the CBC's Cameron MacIntosh to break it down.

Host Éric Grenier is joined by the CBC's Cameron MacIntosh

Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservatives still have a commanding lead over the New Democrats led by Greg Selinger heading into the spring provincial election. (CBC)

The CBC Pollcast, hosted by CBC poll analyst and ThreeHundredEight.com founder Éric Grenier, explores the world of electoral politics, political polls and the trends they reveal.

Voters in Manitoba will be heading to the polls on April 19, as Premier Greg Selinger dissolved the legislature today.

But will he still be in the job on April 20?

The election pits Selinger's New Democrats, in power since 1999, against the Progressive Conservatives under Brian Pallister. The PCs have been leading in the polls in Manitoba since 2013, as Selinger's popularity sunk to the lowest levels for a premier in Canada.

One wild card in the race is the Manitoba Liberal Party under rookie leader Rana Bokhari. Her party had only one seat in the legislature when it was dissolved, but has experienced a surge in the polls that has put it in a close race for second place with the NDP. 

Joining host Éric Grenier to break down the state of the campaign is CBC Manitoba's Cameron MacIntosh.

Can Greg Selinger overcome the odds and get re-elected? The CBC's Cameron Macintosh brings up a preview of the Manitoba election campaign.

Federal politics in microcosm in Manitoba?

There are some striking parallels between the federal political scene and the provincial one in Manitoba.

In fact, the federal results of the 2015 election in the province were a bit of a microcosm of those at the national level: the Liberals winning the urban seats, the Conservatives taking the rural ones, and the New Democrats pushed to a single urban enclave and the northern parts of the province. The federal NDP also won seats in northern Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

But provincial politics in Manitoba are very different. The New Democrats have dominated for almost two decades, while the Liberals have been a non-factor over that time. That could change, however, if Bokhari makes good on her high polling numbers.

Nevertheless, there are some parallel narratives running between Winnipeg and Ottawa. Following the defeat of the federal Conservatives and Newfoundland and Labrador PCs last year, no government in the country is currently run by a party with the word 'conservative' in its name. A win by Pallister could suggest that the conservative movement still has some life in it, though a defeat could reverberate beyond the province.

For the New Democrats, in the midst of existential malaise following their defeat in October's federal election, Manitoba could be another setback. If Selinger's NDP is booted from office, Alberta will be the last province governed by the New Democrats.

Bokhari's performance could act as a test of the boost that Justin Trudeau's victory has provided to Liberal parties throughout the country. It might be too much to expect that Bokhari could find herself in the premier's office after April 19, but bringing the party back to the heights it enjoyed in the late 1980s and early 1990s would be a strong signal that Trudeau's impact is real.

Listen to the full discussion above — or subscribe to The CBC Pollcast and listen to past episodes.

You can follow Éric Grenier and Cameron MacIntosh on Twitter.


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