Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saskatoon Northwest - Byelection Aftermath

The results are in from yesterday's Saskatoon Northwest by-election. And the end result looks to be yet another reinforcement of the polarization in Saskatchewan politics - with both the Sask Party and NDP cementing their place as the two groups with any substantial organization, while all three smaller parties utterly flopped once again in what may have been their last chance to put up any positive results going into the 2011 election.

Obviously the Sask Party figures to be satisfied that Gord Wyant managed to win the seat with roughly 59 per cent of the vote. But it can't escape notice that the NDP also managed to match the Sask Party's by-election trend of improving the second-place party's share of the vote, as Jan Dyky took just under a third of the vote in one of the NDP's weaker urban ridings. Which would seem to put the NDP well within striking distance of the seat.

That is, if there was any other party on the scene capable of splitting the vote so that the NDP could expect to win with a 40-45% share. But the lack of anything of the sort looks to be the biggest long-term story out of last night's results.

For the Liberals, the seat was one of the last three they managed to win back in 1999, and seemed to be an area of recent strength as well based on a well-regarded candidate (and blogger) easily exceeding the party's provincial share of the vote. And this time, the seat in play was directly adjacent to the Saskatoon Meewasin riding where former leader David Karwacki was able to turn out 30% of the vote in 2007.

But instead of being able to build on that foundation, the Libs' Eric Steiner managed a mere 3% of the vote - amounting to less than a tenth of the NDP's vote (compared to Ryan Androsoff's count of more than half of the NDP's share in 2007). And that looks to be yet another indication that the Libs are essentially out of the race even in what were their last relative strongholds.

Meanwhile, the PCs' effort to get back into the mix was even more of a flop, with Manny Sonnenschein's 2.5% share serving more to signal that any hope for the party to reemerge will likely arise out of rural Saskatchewan. And Larissa Shasko's 2.4% of the vote for the Greens looks to be a highly disappointing performance for a party leader.

All of which means that there's absolutely no indication that any other party will play even a remotely significant role in next year's rematch between Wyant and Dyky. And the more the NDP and Sask Party manage to show that nobody else is even close to contending for seats, the more likely it is that the battle between the two will only escalate as the general election approaches.

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