Éric Grenier (CBC News):
It is a testament to how incredibly close this election race is that parties need to fight tooth and nail over a handful of seats in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
And it is a sign of how the landscape has shifted that Saskatchewan, which has been a Conservative stronghold for years, may be host to some of the tightest electoral battles.
The Conservatives won the Prairies handily in 2011, taking 54.8 per cent of the vote in Saskatchewan and Manitoba and 24 of the two provinces’ 28 seats. The New Democrats finished second with 28.9 per cent of the vote and the Liberals third with 12.7 per cent, with both parties taking two seats. The Greens garnered the support of 3.2 per cent of voters in the region and are currently polling at 5.6 per cent.
The Prairies are still leaning Conservative, but the party has dropped almost 16 points in support in four years. The Tories stand at 38.9 per cent in the CBC Poll Tracker, followed by the New Democrats at 27.9 per cent and the Liberals at 26.5 per cent. This suggests that the NDP’s vote has held steady since 2011, while the Liberals have more than doubled theirs at the expense of the Conservatives.
And the polls have been pretty consistent in this regard. Despite a few ups and downs, the Conservatives have seen their support in the region wobble between an average of 37 and 43 per cent. The Liberals and NDP, on the other hand, have been trading the position of runner-up from one poll to the next. But this does mark a change for the Liberals, who were solidly in second place in the region throughout 2013 and 2014.