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Moe government’s lead over NDP might not be as wide as latest polling suggests, experts say

Saskatchewan’s governing party remains popular even though the majority of residents believe it has mishandled some important issues.

The latest polling data by the Angus Reid Institute shows 57 per cent of respondents say they intend to vote for Premier Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Party.

The Official Opposition is a distant second, with only 34 per cent of respondents saying they would vote for the NDP.

Parties without a seat in the provincial legislature rounded out the rest of the pack:

  • Two per cent of respondents said they would vote for the provincial Liberal Party.
  • One per cent said they would back the Green Party.
  • Six per cent said they would vote for a party not named in the poll.

However, there’s a contradiction in the data, experts say.

While the Saskatchewan Party remains popular, it also appears to have upset people with their handling of political issues, particularly with health care and inflation.

Just over two-thirds (68 per cent) of those who were polled said the Moe government has done a poor or very poor job on cost of living/inflation, while 66 per cent said it has done a poor or very poor job on health care.

Both of those topics are among the highest of concern, with 68 per cent of the poll respondents putting inflation as one of their top issues in the province while 47 per cent chose health care (the survey allowed respondents to choose three options).

Experts who spoke with CBC News say there could be a number of factors at play in the disconnect between voting choice and issues of concern.

Jim Farney, director of the Johnson Shoyama graduate school of public policy at the University of Regina, says one issue is the fact that the poll was conducted between June 7-13 while the NDP leadership race was underway.

That makes it hard to draw meaningful conclusions from the data, he says, as it could shift depending on how Carla Beck chooses to establish herself now that she has been chosen to lead the Saskatchewan NDP.

The race for leader of the provincial NDP, won by Carla Beck, was underway while the poll was being conducted, and that could have skewed the results, professors at the University of Regina say. (Mickey Djuric/The Canadian Press)

“The biggest single thing is the leader of the two parties … and how you feel about them,” Farney said.

“Well, if you’re kind of got a question mark around one of those, you’re probably not going to shift your overall vote intention, regardless of what you feel about what kind of a policy level or a government performance level.”

Ken Coates, also a professor at the graduate school, echoed Farney’s comments.

“Nobody in Saskatchewan really knows what their [NDP] policy framework is,” he said. “They haven’t articulated a health-care plan. They haven’t articulated an economic recovery plan or inflation strategy.”

As a result, Coates said, it’s not hard to see that some people would “park their vote” with the governing party if they don’t see an alternative.

The disconnect can also be explained through a sense of fatalism toward topics such as inflation.

Saskatchewan is currently experiencing lower inflation than other parts of the country, but it’s still a record in the province.

Even if someone is unhappy with the province’s handling of the subject they might recognize that the Saskatcheawn government has very little control over an international-sized crisis.

“Where do you put that frustration? You blame it all on the provincial government? No. Do you blame it on the federal government? No. Do you blame it on just life in general? Absolutely,” Coates said.

“So people are angry and upset, but it doesn’t necessarily play out on a partisan political basis.”

Moe and the Saskatchewan Party also polled poorly when it came to:

  • Poverty and homelessness (60 per cent).
  • Drug use/addictions (60 per cent).
  • Senior care (59 per cent).
  • Housing affordability (58 per cent).

In contrast, just 53 per cent of respondents said the government has done a good or very good job on the economy/jobs, while 51 per cent said the province’s response to COVID-19 has been good or very good.

The poll, which contacted 594 people, is considered accurate at plus or minus 4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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