The Saskatchewan election is underway and as noted on September 6 by TC it looks like the Saskatchewan Party (essentially the provincial equivalent of the federal Conservatives without the nominal connection to the scandal ridden regime of Grant Devine) will win. This time series of polls by Environics conducted over the past four years makes it clear they went into the election ahead. However, it is my impression now that it will be fairly close. The result last time was NDP 30 & the Saskatchewan Party 28 with the NDP winning the cities and the north, and the Saskatchwan Party the rural areas - all nicely visually displayed in this map on the CBC election web site.
The key to the election is Saskatoon (Regina is the real NDP stronghold). The Saskatchewan Party picked up three seats there in 2003 (two on the semi-rural edges). It needs two more to put them over the top. An early local poll puts them ahead (with lots of undecided). However, the campaign has yet to acquire a clear dynamic. There is also one Regina seat and a couple of rural ridings they could gain as well.
The Saskatchewan Party is finally behaving like Ross Thatcher did in 1964 when he ousted the CCF regime of Douglas/Lloyd. It is tilting to the centre, for example, by offering a campaign promise of drug benefits following one from the NDP. TC suspects, however, it will also resemble the conservatism of the Thatcher regime once in office.
I hope to see some polls on this race but Saskatchewan seems to have fewer party preference polls than other places. In the end what seems to matter most is that the province, which gave Tommy Douglas five election victories, appears to think simply that it is time for change.