On the #skpoli election, I have been doing a lot of reading, thinking, and reflecting today trying to decipher what happened and why the SK electorate once again went overwhelmingly to the conservative Sask Party. No easy answers here but a few thoughts: #SKVotes2020
1. The economy: there is a consistent trend in this province that economic stability and moderate growth is an economic success story.
The job numbers are relatively healthy and the close relationship that the SK Party maintains with large and small businesses in the province has helped a great deal in cementing their image that they're the best party to 'run' the economy.
That messaging and that belief leads to the perception that the NDP are bad economic managers regardless of how many times the NDP has shown that they can be economic stewards, and quite frankly, do so while trying to address their social-democratic base (not always successfully)
To be clear here, this means that inequality, poverty, homelessness, crummy minimum wages do not equal good economic management.
What matters is that there is a low tax environment to attract private capital, which will then employ a large segment of the population in oil and gas, potash, agricultural production and their various spinoffs. Inequality gets worse, to be sure, but there are jobs.
2. The SK Party is now an electoral machine. Funnelled by largely unregulated corporate cash (from inside and outside the province) they have the people and the money to reach all corners of the province in a way that the NDP (or any other party) could only dream of.
This is a machine driven by stats, metrics, data and sophisticated voter contact (the Kate from the SK Party texts as one example), and of course lots of advertising on all mediums.
I can only imagine that there is a close connection with the federal conservative machine (similar insiders) but I'm only guessing here.
And we shouldn't discount that the federal Conservative Party has built up a similar electoral machine on the prairies that are clearly good at winning votes (both rural and in the cities).
3. The SK Party's stewardship of the economy during the boom years and the subsequent population growth during those years did wonders to solidify its brand and its image as the "new" Saskatchewan.
While there is a lot to work through here, what is real is that a large segment of the pop. equates the "bad old" years with the NDP and the rosy "good and new" years with the Sk Party. That image is real and it will be hard for the NDP (or any other left party) to dislodge.
4. The rise of rural conservatism and rural populism is real. These seats where the SK Party won with a 70-80 per cent margin are mind-boggling.
Add that the reactionary far-right Wexit party came 2nd in some of those areas, and you have an electoral wall of 24 seats that the SK Party (or any other right party) can't lose right now, which means you basically have a wall that is next to impossible for the NDP to climb.
5. I had predicted (wrongly)* that the NDP would gain in the cities. I assumed that workers and even the middle class were sick of the cuts to city services (particularly education and health).
*Note to self: never make predictions
*Note to self: never make predictions
But alas, there is a segment inside and even inside the circle/ring road that supports these conservatives for the low tax, job policies (and the war on the poor) pushed by the party.
That the SK Party can win or almost win Riversdale and Meewasin suggests that many workers and middle-class professionals (and certainly the suburbs) are voting conservative.
Sorry for the Saskatoon bias in that post, a similar argument could be made for Prince Albert Northcote or Regina Northeast or the Moose Jaw ridings.
6. There is a gender gap, but not a lot. Women are voting SK Party in higher numbers than women voting for conservatives elsewhere. I don't really know why, but it is definitely happening. It could just be a conservative place generally, or something about conservatism here.
7. Covid. Had almost no impact on this election. Voters chose stability and were at least ok with the SK Party's response to Covid. They believe (wrongly in my opinion) that the SK Party will be the stewards to guide them out of the pandemic.
Surely there will be cuts and greater austerity as the obsession with balancing the budget by the right was clear in this election. It was also clear amongst a significant component of the Pundit class in the province.