On Tuesday, the incumbent Saskatchewan Party announced the province's 29th general election would take place next month on October 26th, effectively dissolving the legislative assembly.
Premier Scott Moe is seeking his first full term as the province's premier after replacing western sweetheart Brad Wall as the party leader in 2018 upon his retirement. With the writ officially dropped, the Saskatchewan Party is looking to build off three consecutive majority governments, with the latter two terms garnering over 60 percent of the popular vote and 75 percent of the legislative seats.
According to 338Canada polls, the party is projected to win another majority with 45 seats and 59.5 percent popular vote, down from 51 seats and 62.6 percent in the 2016 General Election. While the Saskatchewan Party continues to dominate outside of metropolitan hubs in Regina and Saskatoon, they have maintained the status quo in both cities, securing 14 of 26 seats.
In a recent poll conducted by the University of Saskatchewan's Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research, among decided voters, the Saskatchewan Party dominates the provincial NDP by a two-to-one margin. The poll found 28.8 percent of respondents intend to vote for the governing Saskatchewan Party, with 13.7 percent for the NDP and 6.7 percent for the Progressive Conservatives. However, 34.3 percent of respondents had yet to settle on a party.
Health care was identified as the top electoral issue by poll respondents at 29.1 percent, followed by the economy at 23.2 percent. Education was the only other issue to crack the five percent mark at 7.9 percent.
About 63 percent of respondents said issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic would help determine their vote, while 34 percent rated pandemic issues as unimportant. However, the province's back-to-school plan does not appear to be a driver of votes. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said the plan would not affect their vote, while 30 percent said it would.
Forty percent of respondents did not indicate which party best represents their position on COVID-19 issues, though, 29.5 percent named the Saskatchewan Party. In comparison, 10.3 percent named the NDP, and seven percent named the PCs.
The poll indicated a slight plurality on the provincial economy's state, with 34.7 percent stating the economy as 'declining.' In comparison, 33.5 percent said it was 'neither decreasing nor improving,' and 27.4 percent said it was 'improving.'
With the separatist Buffalo Party officially registered with the province, and the Progressive Conservatives floating through the polls, there is reason to speculate that poor relations with the federal government could facilitate a vote-split between conservatives and other center-right voters.
60.9 percent of respondents felt Saskatchewan was not receiving its 'fair share' of spending and programs from the federal government, while 29.4 percent thought the province was being treated 'fairly.'
62.9 percent felt Saskatchewan 'does not get the respect it deserves' in Canada, while 33.5 percent said the province was getting the 'proper amount of respect.'
The poll telephoned 400 adults from Saskatchewan, coming with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent, 19 times out of 20.