Voters still favour Sask. Party over NDP, although approval drops, poll finds

The Sask. Party maintains the lead in recent Angus Reid polling, but the numbers show the approval rating could be wavering. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu. HCY

The Sask. Party remains the preferred political party on top issues among Saskatchewan voters, but it is seeing its lowest approval rating in four years.

That’s according to an Angus Reid poll, which surveyed 504 Saskatchewan residents on how they felt about the leaders of the province’s political parties and how the parties rank on top issues.

The poll said 62 per cent of respondents felt the Sask. Party government wasn’t handling cost-of-living issues well. The same percentage felt education was also being mishandled, and the government did not score strongly on health care.

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The NDP, however, did not fare any better. The pollsters found that those surveyed thought NDP would do a better job on education, but most still favoured the Sask. Party on issues such as the cost of living, health care, and the economy.

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Sask. Party leader Scott Moe, meanwhile, holds a higher approval rating than NDP leader Carla Beck, with 53 per cent of those surveyed holding a positive view of the premier compared to 35 per cent who favour Beck. One in five respondents said they had yet to form an opinion about Beck.

The poll also found that the Sask. Party holds a 31-point advantage over the NDP outside of Saskatoon and Regina, but that the NDP leads in both cities (by eight points in Regina and 12 in Saskatoon).

Meanwhile, half of respondents told pollsters it was time for a change in Saskatchewan’s provincial government.

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Respondents also chose the cost of living, health care and education when asked to identify three top priorities from a list of 15. Topics such as the opioid crisis, First Nations issues and emergency management brought up the rear out of the available options.

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Daniel Westlake, assistant professor of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan, warned that the poll’s findings should be treated carefully, saying there’s a margin of error to take into account.

The main story of this poll, he continued, is the Sask. Party’s consistent lead over the NDP, noting that a topic like health care should be a bread-and-butter issue for the NDP, but the Sask. Party has a lead on them. “I don’t really know there’s much here for the NDP to be celebrating or looking for an avenue to be successful,” he said.

Westlake also said that anyone looking for an NDP breakthrough would need to see weaker results for the Sask. Party and stronger results for the NDP. He added that education, especially in the light of the current teacher job action, is one area where the NDP might find an opportunity to improve its position.

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