Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Point Doulgas by-election: Post mortem

I haven't made many “post-election analysis” posts on this blog, but it's never too late to start, right? As expected, the NDP managed to win last week's provincial by-election in Point Douglas, Manitoba. A seat they have never lost, and which gave them their best result out of all ridings in the 2016 provincial election. Even though the NDP won, the by-election result was a bit of a disappointment for the party, as they won less than 50% of the vote for the first time in the riding's history.

Preliminary results show the NDP's Bernadette Smith winning 44% of the vote (down from 58% in 2016), with the Liberal's John Cacayuran winning 29% of the vote in second place (up from 19%). This was the Liberal's best showing in the riding since the 1990 election. The Tories finished third with 16% of the vote, only down a quarter of a percentage point from 2016. The Greens finished in fifth, behind the libertarian Manitoba Party. Overall turnout was down 10% from last year's election, to just 32%. While bad, it's not unusual of for by-elections to have turnouts in the low 30s, and considering how low turnout usually is in this riding, it's not that bad.

Elections Manitoba published the preliminary results by polling division, which has allowed me to delve deep into the results to see just what happened on election day. I sure hope they used the same poll map as in the last provincial election.
Race and income by census tract (2011 National Household Survey)

Except for the one polling division in the southeast corner of the riding, Point Douglas' electoral geography is usually quite homogeneous, as the NDP has historically swept almost every poll in this riding. Last week's by-election did identify a political cleavage in the riding, that I believe is most likely based on ethnic lines. The Liberals ended up winning 8 of the 40 polls in the riding, and tying the NDP in one other. Most of these poll wins came from the northwest part of the riding, which has a lower Aboriginal population than the rest of the riding, and a higher Filipino population. This part of the riding is over one-quarter Filipino, which is the highest proportion of Filipinos in the riding. Most of the rest of the riding has a large Aboriginal population (with about 50% of the population in these areas being Native), and these areas stuck with the NDP, who just so happened to be running an Aboriginal candidate. The poll in the southeast corner of the riding stuck with the Tory candidate. This one poll is in an area that is very different from the rest of the riding socioeconomically, with an average income of over $60,000 compared to the low $20,000 range in most of the rest of the riding.

The swing map reinforces my theory of Filipino voters switching their allegiances to the Liberals. Some polls in the northwest of the riding saw up to 30% swings away from the NDP. In fact the poll which was the NDP's best in 2016 was even won by the Liberals! That's not to say it was all bad news for the NDP, as a few polls actually swung in their direction. One poll even saw a nearly 30% swing away from the Liberals! These swings to the NDP came from areas that are the most Aboriginal in the riding, and are also among the poorest parts of the riding.

Contributing to the election results was a likely turnout difference between Filipino and Aboriginal voters, as the northwest part of the riding saw the highest election day turnout, while the poorest and most Aboriginal parts of the riding tended to see the lowest turnout. In fact, there is a clear correlation between swing and turnout; areas that swung the most to the Liberals had a higher turnout, while those areas that had the lowest turnout swung to the NDP (or at least had a lower swing to the Liberals).

What does this all mean for Manitoba politics going forward? Well, not too much, as both the Liberals and NDP are leaderless at the moment. However, it does expose a potential ethnic cleavage in Winnipeg's north end, which may cut into the NDP's dominance of this working class part of the city. We've already seen the Liberals not only make inroads, but sweep this part of the city in the last federal election. I'm not saying they will do this on the provincial level, but winning over Filipino voters will help the Liberals win a few more seats in the region.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Point Douglas by-election preview

Hello readers, it's been a while since my last blog post, due to being quite busy with work, but now that summer approaches, I have a bit more free time to focus on elections across this great country of ours. Of course, summer means a great lack of elections. Oh well. Anyway, those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I have still been making maps and charts, something that I much prefer over writing, to be honest. It's a lot easier to provide analysis in 140 characters or less!

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Today, Manitoba is seeing its first provincial by-election since the Progressive Conservatives were swept to power in last year's provincial election. The governing Tories have remained fairly popular over the last year, and enjoy a sizable lead in the polls, thanks to a split opposition, and the fact that both the NDP and Liberals are leaderless at the moment, with both parties set to elect new leaders in the Fall.

Today's by-election is in the riding of Point Douglas, perhaps the safest NDP seat in the whole province. In last year's election, the NDP saw its largest share of the vote out of any riding, when they won the seat with 58% of the vote. In the 2011 election, it was the NDP's second best riding in the province, when 73% of voters backed the party. Most of the riding has voted NDP in every election since the party was created, and for its predecessor the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) before that, going back to when single member constituencies were created in Winnipeg for the 1958 election. Even before that, the CCF would regularly win seats in this part of Winnipeg, which has a long working class history.

Point Douglas is located in Winnipeg's notorious north end, and is named for a bend in the Red River. The Red River forms the eastern boundary of the riding, while the northern boundary is formed by Church Street and the western boundary mostly follows Sinclair Street. The southern boundary follows the CPR Winnipeg Yard, and then follows Main Street south to Lombard Avenue, and then east to the Red River. This diversion creates a bit of a “panhandle” in the southeast of the riding. While this unites all of Point Douglas together, it lumps two very socioeconomically different neighbourhoods together.

The riding is one of the poorest in the province, with most census tracts reporting an average annual income of less than $25,000. One exception is the South Point Douglas area (the aforementioned “panhandle”), which reported an average income of $63,000 in 2010. The riding has a very large First Nations population, as well as a sizable Filipino population.

Results by neighbourhood (2016 provincial and 2015 federal elections)
Click to enlarge

In the last two elections, the NDP won nearly every single poll in the riding. In 2011 the NDP won all but one poll, and in 2016, the lost just two. In 2016, the Liberals won the Lord Dufferin Park apartments, while the furthest southerly poll has voted for the Tories in both elections. This poll covers the Exchange District and Civic Centre neighbourhoods, located right next to Downtown. In federal elections, Point Douglas usually always votes NDP. However, in the 2015 election, the area switched allegiances en masse to the Liberals, thanks in part to the popularity of Winnipeg North MP Kevin Lemoureux, whose support base had previously been further west in the district. Lamoureux won 62% of the vote in Point Douglas in 2011.

In both the 2011 and 2016 elections, the NDP won a majority of votes in every neighbourhood except the South Point Douglas area, where they still managed to win pluralities in both elections. In the 2015 federal election, the Liberals won a majority of the vote in every neighbourhood, with North Point Douglas being their worst at 55% of the vote. North Point Douglas was the NDP's best neighbourhood in the 2016 provincial election (63%) and second best in 2015, after Lord Selkirk Park. Interestingly, Lord Selkirk Park was the Liberals' best neighbourhood in the last two provincial elections. The Tories typically do the best in the South Point Douglas area, winning 35% of the vote in 2016 and 41% in 2011. However, their best neighbourhood in the federal election was actually St. John's Park, winning just 18% of the vote. The Greens also do their best in the South Point Douglas area, winning nearly 10% of the vote there in 2016.

Point Douglas representation history (since 1958)

Point Douglas was vacated last January when its MLA, Kevin Chief resigned citing family reasons. He had represented the seat since 2011. Since the riding was re-created in 1990, Point Douglas has continuously been represented by members of the First Nations community, as both Chief and his predecessor, George Hickes are Aboriginals.

The NDP hopes to continue the riding's tradition of electing First Nations MLAs, with their candidate Bernadette Smith. Smith's credentials include pushing for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, and advocacy for women's and indigenous rights. The Liberals are running John Cacuyaran, a former staffer for MP Maryann Mihychuk. The Tories are running electrician Jodi Moskal, the Greens are running Sabrina Koehn Binesi and the libertarian “Manitoba Party” is running their leader, Gary Marshall.

This should be an NDP hold, but turnout will be a big factor in this riding. The NDP can usually count on the support from First Nations residents in the riding, and it will help that they have an Aboriginal candidate. The NDP's main competition will be from the Liberals, who are notably not running a First Nations candidate. The Liberals' poll numbers are currently just below the NDP in province-wide polling, which would not ordinarily be enough to take this riding, but will be enough to ensure a second place finish, which they did not get in 2011 (but did get in 2016). That is not to say that this riding could not go Liberal in the future, as the federal election results prove that this is more than possible. But provincial politics in Manitoba is much differently aligned than in federal elections, and the provincial Liberal Party is too unorganized to pick this seat up.

We'll see who wins when polls close at 8pm (9pm Eastern).


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ontario provincial by-election preview (Ottawa-Vanier and Niagara West-Glanbrook)

Today there are a couple of provincial by-elections being held in Ontario, one in the riding of Ottawa—Vanier and one in Niagara West—Glanbrook. Ottawa—Vanier was vacated in June when its MPP, Madeleine Meilleur announced her retirement. Meilleur, a Liberal represented the riding since 2003 and served in the cabinets of both Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne. Niagara West—Glanbrook was vacated in September when its MPP, Tim Hudak resigned to become the CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association. Hudak was the leader of the Progressive Conservatives from 2009 to 2014, leading the party in the last two provincial elections to disappointing defeats. Hudak had been an MPP since 1995.


The governing Liberals have continued to slide in the polls in recent months. In September, they lost a key by-election in Scarborough—Rouge River to the Tories, in what had been a safe Liberal seat. Since then, province-wide polling has shown that they have dropped at least 10 more points, with the most recent Mainstreet Research poll putting them in third place behind the NDP. Today's by-elections are in safe seats, but it will be interesting to see the swings against the Liberals in both ridings, and how well the two opposition parties gain at their expense.


Ottawa—Vanier


Geography

Ottawa—Vanier is located in the east end of Ottawa, running from the Rideau Canal in the west to Green's Creek in the east. The northern boundary is the Ottawa River, while the southern boundary follows Highway 417, Blair Road and Montreal Road. The riding is socioeconomically very diverse; it contains Ottawa's oldest neighbourhood (Lowertown) in the west, post war suburbs in the east, some of Ottawa's poorest neighbourhoods and also Ottawa's richest neighbourhood (Rockcliffe Park). The riding is home to both the normal residence of the Prime Minister (24 Sussex) and the Governor General (Rideau Hall). The riding is named for its largest neighbourhood, Vanier which used to be an independent city until it amalgamated with Ottawa in 2001. Rockcliffe Park was also an independent municipality until amalgamation. The post-war suburbs in the east and southeast parts of the riding were formerly in the City of Gloucester until amalgamation. Other notable neighbourhoods in the riding include Sandy Hill, the By Ward Market, New Edinburgh, Manor Park, Overbrook, Beacon Hill North and Pineview. The riding is also home to the University of Ottawa.


Demographics

Ottawa-Vanier is one of the most Francophone ridings in the province, with nearly one third (31%) of the riding having French as their mother tongue. Vanier itself is almost 50% French, but the surrounding neighbourhoods also have high French populations. Lowertown historically has had a high Francophone population, but it has decreased in recent decades. The riding is still a majority Anglo, with 52% of the population having English as their first language. Arabic is the next most spoken mother tongue at 4%. 72% of the riding is White, with much of this population having French, English, Irish and Scottish origins. 10% of the riding is Black, while there are significant populations of Arabs, South Asians, Aboriginals and Chinese. Nearly two-thirds of the riding (66%) is Christian, with 45% of the population being Catholic. 8% of the riding is Muslim, while 23% have no religion.
Despite the presence of wealthy Rockcliffe Park in the riding, Ottawa—Vanier is very much working class. The median household income in the riding is $57,000 (provincial median is $66,000) while the average income is $77,000 (provincial average is $86,000). The median individual income ($32,000) is slightly higher than the provincial median ($31,000). Due to the riding's close proximity to the Downtown, nearly a quarter of the labour force works in public administration, dwarfing all other industries.


History

Owing to its large Francophone, working class and public sector populations, Ottawa—Vanier and its predecessor ridings have reliably voted Liberal throughout its history. Today, it is one of the safest Liberal ridings in the province. It has voted Liberal continuously since 1971 (and has won a majority of the vote in every election since), and was the party's 8th best seat in 2014. In that election, Meilleur won 56% of the vote, while her PC opponent won 22% and the NDP candidate won 13%. Once in a while the riding has elected Tories, but only once in a blue moon. Since last winning the riding in 1967, the PCs have only broken over 30% of the vote once (in 1999). The NDP has never won the riding, but has on occasion finished second. They have only broken 20% once in the riding's history though, and that was in 1990, when the party was swept in to power. Owing to its sizable and historical francophone populations, the riding has elected only Francophones to Queen's Park since 1911.
Until 1908, all of Ottawa was represented in Queen's Park by the riding of Ottawa (which at times also included surrounding villages that would later be absorbed by the city). In 1908, the riding was split into two parts, Ottawa East and Ottawa West. Ottawa East would naturally include the eastern parts of the city, namely Sandy Hill, Lowertown and New Edinburgh. In 1933 it was expanded to include Old Ottawa East and a strange westerly protrusion which included Parliament Hill, LeBreton Flats and Mechanicsville (but not the rest of Downtown Ottawa). In 1966 the boundaries changed again, and the riding would only include Sandy Hill, Lowertown, New Edinburgh, as well as the city of Eastview which would become Vanier in 1969. Over the next few decades, the riding grew in size, gaining Forbes and Overbrook in 1975, Carson Grove, Cyrville and Quarries in 1987, and finally Pineview and Beacon Hill North in 1999 when the riding became known as Ottawa—Vanier (matching the federal riding). 

List of MPPs for the area


Political geography

One look at the 2014 map of the riding, and one would think that Ottawa—Vanier is a pretty homogenous place, as nearly every single poll voted Liberal. In fact, only three polls voted Tory, and just one voted NDP. This is how the riding usually goes though. The Liberals win nearly every single poll, while the NDP and the Tories are lucky to win a handful across the riding. Usually, the Tories will win a few suburban polls in the east of the riding, or maybe a poll or two in Rockcliffe Park, while the NDP might win a few polls in Sandy Hill or Lowertown. In 2014, the Liberals won every single neighbourhood in the riding, winning a majority of the vote in most of them. Meilleur's best neighbourhood was Viscount Alexander Park, where she won 63% of the vote. Her worst neighbourhood was the wealthier Rothwell Heights neighbourhood, where she still won 46%, but lost two polls. Rothwell Heights was the best Tory neighbourhood, where they won one poll and 39% of the vote. Their worst neighbourhood was Sandy Hill where they won 15% of the vote. The best neighbourhood for the NDP was Sandy Hill, thanks in part to a large student population. They won 17% of the vote there. The worst NDP neighbourhood was Rockcliffe Park, where they won just 4% of the vote.

2014 provincial election results by neighbourhood

Federally, Ottawa—Vanier has seen different political maps in recent elections. While 2015 was a Liberal wash here, the 2011 election was much more interesting as it was relatively close with the Liberals winning 38% of the vote, the NDP winning 29% and the Conservatives 27%. The Liberals may have won the riding, but you wouldn't know it by looking at a map. The NDP won most of the working class western part of the riding (Sandy Hill, Vanier, Lowertown and Overbrook), while the Conservatives won much of the middle class suburbs in the eastern part of the riding (such as Beacon Hill and Pineview). The Liberals won the wealthier northern neighbourhoods of the riding like Manor Park and New Edinburgh, and the won the riding by finishing 2nd place everywhere else.


Outlook

No matter the outcome of today's by-election, the riding will still be represented by another Francophone, as all of the major parties have nominated one. Even with their low poll numbers, the Liberals are still the favourites to win, thanks to the riding's demographics and long history of voting Liberal. I should also note anecdotally, the Ottawa area is far removed from the world of Toronto-centred provincial politics, and so anger against the provincial government is not as strong here. The probable winner of today's by-election is Liberal candidate Nathalie Des Rosiers, the dean of common law at the University of Ottawa. Her strongest challenge will likely come from the Tory candidate, André Marin who is the former ombudsman of the province. The NDP's candidate is Claude Bisson, a former RCMP officer and brother of Timmins—James Bay MPP Gilles Bisson. The Green Party candidate is Raphaël Morin, who ran for the Greens in last year's federal election in his home riding of Orleans.


Niagara West—Glanbrook

 


Geography

Niagara West—Glanbrook is located on the south shore of Lake Ontario on the Niagara Peninsula, nestled between the southern and eastern edges of Hamilton and the western edges of the St. Catharines-Niagara metropolitan area. The riding is home to a number of bedroom communities serving both metros, and all of the rural area in between. The western third of the riding lies within the city limits of Hamilton, consisting of the former Township of Glanbrook and the part of the former city of Stoney Creek south of the Niagara escarpment. Both of these areas were amalgamated into Hamilton proper in 2001. This region of the riding contains newer subdivisions, spilling out from the core of Hamilton, a couple of commuter villages (Mount Hope and Binbrook) and a large swath of rural area.

Along the north shore of the riding are the municipalities of Grimsby and Lincoln, which are a mix of bedroom communities (such as Grimsby itself, Beamsville and Vineland) and rural areas. Toward the interior south of the riding is the Township of West Lincoln, which is almost entirely rural except for the community of Smithville. And finally, in the southeast corner of the riding is the Town of Pelham, which is basically just a suburb of neighbouring Welland. Most of the population of Pelham lives in the community of Fonthill.


Demographics

Being a mostly rural/small town riding, Niagara West—Glanbrook is a fairly homogeneously White, Anglo-Saxon, Christian riding. 93% of the riding is White, with the main ethnic groups in the riding being English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Italian, German and French. 86% of the riding has English as their mother tongue, with Italian and Dutch being the next two biggest languages at 2% each. Over three-quarters (76%) of the riding is Christian. 32% of the riding is Catholic, 10% are United Church and 9% are Anglican. 21% have no religion. The riding is quite a bit more wealthy than the province as a whole. The median household income in the riding is $80,000 (provincial median is $66,000) while the median individual income is $45,000 (provincial median is $31,000). Manufacturing is the largest industry, with health care and social assistance not being too far behind.


History

As a riding, Niagara West—Glanbrook is a new creation, born in time for the 2007 election. A bare majority of the district (Glanbrook, Stoney Creek and Grimsby) came from the previous riding of Stoney Creek, while Lincoln and West Lincoln were previously in the riding of Erie—Lincoln and Pelham was in the riding of Niagara Centre. Tim Hudak had previously represented Erie—Lincoln, which included his hometown of Fort Erie. Fort Erie had been redistributed into the more Liberal-friendly Niagara Falls riding, and instead of running there, he ran in the new Niagara West riding, which had notionally voted PC in 2003. Hudak easily won the seat in 2007, 2011 and in 2014. He won a majority of the vote in both 2007 and 2011, but just 42% in 2014. He had been helped out by a vote split between the Liberals and NDP who won 28% and 22% respectively. The Liberals have always finished second here (ranging from 26% to 36% of the vote), while the NDP has always finished third (with results ranging from 12% to 22%).

Historically, the western part of the Niagara region in Ontario was found in the riding of Lincoln until that riding was split up in 1999 when provincial ridings were redistributed to match their federal counterparts. Lincoln was mostly a Tory seat for much of its history, though it did go Liberal once in a while and voted for the NDP in 1990. For most of its history, Lincoln contained the municipalities of Lincoln, West Lincoln and Grimsby (and sometimes Pelham), while the Hamilton part of the riding was located in Wentworth East (also known as just Wentworth), which included Glanbrook, all of Stoney Creek and sometimes part of suburban Hamilton. While Lincoln usually voted Tory, Wentworth often voted NDP.
List of MPPs for the area

 

Political geography

There are two kinds of political divides in this riding: rural vs. urban and west (Hamilton) vs. east. The eastern part of this riding, which is mostly rural or urban bedroom communities vote more conservative, while the western part of the riding, which is influenced by the progressive voting patterns of urban Hamilton is less conservative. Urban areas, even the commuter towns are less conservative while the rural areas surrounding them are much more conservative. 

2014 election results by community

In the 2014 election, Hudak's strongest region of the riding was West Lincoln Township, where he won 59% of the vote. The rural part of the township was even better for him, as he won 62% of the vote there. His worst region in the riding was in Stoney Creek, where he only won 26% of the vote, coming in third behind the Liberals (35%) and the NDP (33%). Stoney Creek was the best region for both those parties. The worst neighbourhood for Hudak was the Tirinity/Highland area of Stoney Creek, where he won just 23% of the vote. The strongest neighbourhood for the Liberals was actually in Glanbrook. The new subdivision of Summit Park, which is located adjacent to Stoney Creek gave the Liberals 41% of the vote. The worst part of the riding for the Liberals was the rural part of West Lincoln, which gave them just 14%. The best neighbourhood for the NDP was Valley Park in Stoney Creek, where they won 36% of the vote and the worst area was rural Lincoln, where they won 14%.



Outlook

With this riding being a pretty safe one to begin with for the Tories, they should have no problem maintaining it in today's by-election, especially considering their increased poll numbers. The only caveat is that they are running a rather controversial candidate in the 19 year old Sam Oosterhoff, who will become Ontario's youngest MPP ever if he wins. Oosterhoff, a Brock University student won the Tory nomination in a surprise upset, defeating former MP Rick Dykstra and regional councillor Tony Quirk. Oosterhoff's candidacy has been controversial due to his conservative views on abortion, same-sex marriage and Ontario's new sex-ed curriculum. Despite his controversial views, he will in all likelihood win the seat, meaning the real race will be for second place between the Liberals and NDP. Running for the Liberals is Hamilton lawyer Vicky Ringuette and running for the NDP is former Hamilton police union leader Mike Thomas. The NDP has never finished second in the riding in its short history, but did finish second in the 2011 federal election. The Green Party candidate is Donna Cridland, who lives in a neighbouring riding.


Polls close in both ridings at 9pm.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

2016 Saskatchewan municipal elections today

Voters in Saskatchewan's urban municipalities and odd-numbered rural municipalities head to the polls today to vote in local elections across the province's 16 cities, 146 towns, 260 villages and 154 of the province's 296 rural municipalities to elect new mayors and councils. Additionally, voters will also be voting in school board elections to elect school trustees for Saskatchewan's 28 school divisions (of which 19 are public, eight are Catholic and one is French). Since the last elections in 2012, Saskatchewan's municipal elections are now held every four years instead of three.

Here is a look at the elections in Saskatchewan's three largest cities:


Saskatoon


The most exciting mayoral race in the province will be in the province's largest city of Saskatoon. There are three main candidates running for mayor, and polls are showing a close three-way race between them. The front-runner is mayor Don Atchison, who has been mayor of the city since 2003. Atchison, an outspoken conservative, could squeak out a victory thanks to a split in the vote on his left between his main two rivals: city councillor Charlie Clark and businesswoman Kelley Moore. Clark, who has NDP connections, is the more progressive of the candidates, and represents the city's most left wing ward, Ward 6, which covers the Downtown and Nutana neighbourhoods of the city. Moore on the other hand is running on a more centrist platform, highlighting fiscal responsibility and sustainable planning in her platform. Both Mainstreet Research and Insightrix have released recent polls of the race, and show contradictory results. Both pollsters show Atchison with the lead; Mainstreet gives Atchison 38% and Insightrix has him at 35%. Both pollsters differ on who is in second place, though. Mainstreet has Clark in second place at 33%, while Insightrix has Moore in second place, just one point behind Atchison at 34%. Mainstreet puts Moore further behind at just 25%, while Insightrix has Clark in a close third place at 30%. These contradictory poll numbers mean that it will be difficult for anti-Atchison voters to pick a candidate if they want to get rid of the mayor. On the other hand, it may trigger centrist Moore supporters to vote Atchison to stop Clark.

Main mayoral candidates in Saskatoon
The 2012 election in Saskatoon was also an exciting race, but between just two main candidates: Atchison and public servant Tom Wolf. Wolf, a public servant, ran on a pragmatic centre to centre-left platform. Atchison squeaked out a narrow five-point victory over Wolf, and the two candidates split the city's ten wards, with each candidate winning five. Atchison won the five suburban wards located on the southern, eastern and northern edges of the city, with his best ward being Ward 9 in the city's southeast corner, picking up 61% of the vote there. Wolf's best ward was Ward 6 in the centre of the city, where he won 60% of the vote. 



Looking at Saskatoon's city council race, there are three wards which will have open races with no incumbents: Ward 6 (Charlie Clark's seat), Ward 8 and Ward 9. The incumbent in Ward 8 was Eric Olauson, who was elected in the provincial election earlier this year for the Saskatchewan Party. The incumbent in Ward 9 is Tiffany Paulsen who had run for the Liberal Party in the 2004 federal election. The ward map for 2016 has changed slightly, as the city has annexed some new territory.

Map of Saskatoon's 10 wards


Regina


Unlike the race for mayor of Saskatoon, the mayoral election in Regina has been more of a snooze-fest. One-term incumbent mayor Michael Fougere is set for a landslide election, as is customary for popular mayors heading into their second elections. The conservative-leaning Fougere had been a long time city councillor representing Ward 4 in the southeast corner of the city. He was first elected as mayor in 2012 with just 42% of the vote, thanks to a split in the progressive vote between candidates Marian Donnelly and Meka Okochi. Fougere won seven of the city's ten wards en route to his re-election, while Donnelly won the remaining three. The seven wards that Fougere won are all located in the city's more conservative-leaning suburbs, while Donnelly won the city's three inner-city wards. Fougere's best ward (and the only one where he won a majority of the vote) was his home Ward 4, where he picked up 58% of the vote. Donnelly's best ward was Ward 3, which covers the city's Downtown. Donnelly would win 55% of the vote there compared to just 20% for Fougere. Okochi's vote was generally even across the city, and he failed to win any wards.

Main mayoral candidates in Regina
For 2016, Fougere should have no problem winning every ward in the city, if the only poll of the race is to be believed. A Mainstreet Research poll conducted earlier this month showed Fougere way ahead at 73%, while his four opponents are all in single digits. His main opponent will likely be Tony Fiacco, brother of former mayor Pat Fiacco and former Saskatchewan Party candidate. The left wing vote will be split between three candidates: businessman Wayne Ast, perennial mayoral candidate Jim Elliott and former Green Party candidate and topless rights activist Evangeline Gordron. The Mainstreet poll put Fiacco at 9%, Ast and Elliott at 8% and Godron at 2%.


Regina City Council has 11 seats, with ten ward councillors plus the mayor. Of the ten wards, just two will have open races with no incumbents: Wards 3 and 6. Of note, Ward 6 has a total of 9 candidates running. The city of Regina annexed some new territory since the last election, and as such the ward map was tweaked slightly.

Map of Regina's 10 wards

Prince Albert


Prince Albert mayoral candidates
In Prince Albert, one-term mayor Greg Dionne is being challenged by Ward 6 city councillor Martin Ring, peace advocate Conrad Burns and former junior hockey player Josh Morrow whose campaign has been criticized for being “Trump” like for its “American-style” incivility. Dionne, who was a city councillor before becoming ways, was first elected to lead council in 2012 when he defeated then-incumbent mayor Jim Scarrow by nearly 1100 votes. Dionne won every ward in the city, doing especially well in the more NDP-friendly wards (1, 2, 3 and 4), which cover the northern and central parts of the city. His best ward was Ward 1, where he won 58% of the vote. His worst ward (and Scarrow's best ward) was Ward 5, where he still beat Scarrow by a 47-44% margin. His worst wards are all located in parts of the city that tend to vote for the Conservatives in federal elections and the Saskatchewan Party in provincial elections.



Prince Albert's city council has nine seats (eight councillors plus the mayor). Wards 6 and 7 have no incumbents running for re-election as Ward 6 councillor Martin Ring is running for mayor and Ward 7 has been vacant since January when its representative resigned for personal reasons. Ward 8 will have no election, as councillor Ted Zurakowski has been acclaimed.

Map of Prince Albert's 8 wards


Polls close at 8pm Central Standard Time in most municipalities. Saskatchewan doesn't have daylight saving time, so there is a 2 hour difference, meaning the polls close at 10pm Eastern.




Monday, October 24, 2016

Medicine Hat--Cardston--Warner federal by-election today

Today marks the first federal by-election of the 42nd Parliament, just as Canada's new Liberal government enters its sophomore year. Voters in the southern Alberta riding of Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner head to the polls to elect a new Member of Parliament, following the death of Conservative MP Jim Hillyer who died last Spring due to cardiomyopathy. Hillyer was first elected to Parliament in 2011 in the neighbouring riding of Lethbridge, and switched to the Medicine Hat riding for the 2015 election when its boundaries shifted to encompass his hometown of Raymond, located just south of Lethbridge. While it pains me to speak ill of the dead, Hillyer's short tenure in Parliament was criticized by even those in his party for his 'poor service of his constituents'. When he first ran for office in 2011, he was criticized for not attending any candidate debates and for embellishing the truth in his campaign literature. It did not matter though, as he was easily elected in both 2011 and 2015 (though in a mostly different riding the second time), due to running in true blue Conservative country: southern Alberta.

Map of the riding
Since the 2015 federal election, the Justin Trudeau-led Liberals have enjoyed a tremendous honeymoon period, and are still polling nearly ten points higher than what they won in the last federal election, witch much of this coming at the expense of the (for all intents and purposes) leaderless NDP. The Conservatives, who are also leaderless, have not been hurt by The Liberal honeymoon, as they are polling at about what they won in 2015. Trudeau remains a very popular figure across the country, and even has a large swath of adoring fans in southern Alberta. While he is still mostly detested in that corner of the country, a rally he attended two weeks ago in Medicine Hat attracted nearly 2000 people.

Geography


Map of Medicine Hat neighbourhoods

Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner can be found on the southern and southeastern boundary of Alberta. It is shaped like a backward “L”, with Saskatchewan on the east, and Montana on the south. In the west, the riding begins at the Belly River, and wraps around the Lethbridge area and Taber County, ending at CFB Suffield in the north. While the riding appears to be rural, and many have claimed it is, this is a misnomer. The City of Medicine Hat dominates the riding, as it is home to nearly two thirds of the riding's population. The rest of the riding is mostly empty ranching land, or oil and gas wells. Other than Medicine Hat, the riding is home to a few smaller communities, such as Cardston, Magrath, Raymond and Bow Island, while the Medicine Hat suburb of Redcliff is the riding's second largest city or town. The riding is also home to Canada's largest Indian Reserve (second largest in population), Blood #148, a Blackfoot reserve which is home to over 4000 people. The people in Blood #148 will be voting in their second federal by-election in just over two years, as they were previously located in the riding of Macleod which had a by-election in June 2014.

Demographics


Except for about a 9% Aboriginal population, the riding is overwhelmingly White. But despite this, the riding does have some interesting cultural and ethnic demographics. The riding has the highest ethnically German population in the country, with 36% of people claiming it. Germans immigrated to southern Alberta in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and have long since been integrated into the country. Still though, 7% of residents indicate German as their first language in the census. This makes German the riding's #2 language, and some rural areas in the central part of the riding have large numbers (over 40%) of German speakers. After German, the riding is also home to significant populations with English, Scottish and Irish backgrounds. 10% of the riding claims some sort of Aboriginal background, most of this being Blackfoot. Blackfoot is the native tongue of about 1% of the riding.



The riding also has an interesting religious makeup, as it is home to Canada's largest Mormon population. Over a quarter of the riding is considered “Other Christian”, with much of this is Mormon, which was also the religion of Jim Hillyer. Mormons began settling the western part of the riding in the late 19th Century, and built the first Mormon Temple outside the United States in Cardston in 1887. Hillyer's hometown of Raymond was also settled by Mormons. The “other Christian” group also includes a sizable Mennonite population who are the descendants of some of the early German settlers to this region. In total, 72% of the riding is Christian, including 21% being Catholic, and 10% being United Church. Over one quarter of the riding has no religion.

The riding is poorer than the province as a whole. The median income is about $30,000 compared to $36,000 for all of Alberta. The average income is $40,000 which is over $10,000 less than the provincial average. While the riding has a reputation for cattle ranches and oil and gas extraction, the dominance of City of Medicine Hat in the riding has resulted in the leading industries in the riding being health care and social assistance, retail trade and construction.

History


A riding known as “Medicine Hat” existed all the way from 1908 until the most recent redistribution before last year's election. Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner was originally going to be named just “Medicine Hat”, but the addition of the Cardston and Warner areas, which have not traditionally been lumped in with Medicine Hat in one riding meant that a name change was preferred.

From 1905 when Alberta joined confederation until 1908, Medicine Hat, then a town of 3000 people, was located in the riding of “Alberta (provisional district)”. In 1908 a riding called “Medicine Hat” was first created. This first Medicine Hat riding included a large swath of southeastern Alberta, including Lethbridge (then a home to 2000 people). In the north, the riding extended as far as (but not including) Hanna and as far as Strathmore in the west. Subsequent redistributions shrunk the riding down further, with a new Lethbridge riding being created in the west. The Cardston and Warner parts of the current riding of Medicine Hat—Cardston--Warner were usually located in the Lethbridge riding, but the Warner area was added to Medicine Hat in the 1966 redistribution but was removed once again in 1987, joining back with the Lethbridge riding. In the 2013 redistribution, the Cardston area was added to the riding for the first time since the 1908 redistribution and the Warner area was also added back to the riding. Both of these regions were previously in the Lethbridge riding. The 2013 redistribution also brought in the Blood 148 Indian Reserve which was previously located in the Macleod riding. To compensate, the Medicine Hat riding lost Taber and Newell Counties (which includes Brooks) to the new riding of Bow River. These counties have traditionally been part of the Medicine Hat riding, and this region had been continuously part of the riding since 1976. Also in 2013, the riding lost a small strip of territory in the far north of the riding (between the Red Deer River and the Suffield Air Force Base) to the new riding of Battle River—Crowfoot. 

MPs for Medicine Hat and Medicine Hat--Cardston--Warner
In its early days, the riding was competitive for the Liberals and even was won by the Progressive Party in 1921. However, following World War II, right wing parties have won every single election in Medicine Hat except for the first Trudeaumania in 1968. That election was an anomaly though, as the riding's MP, Bud Olson had switched from the quickly dying Social Credit Party to the Liberals, and was elected thanks to the splitting of the right wing vote between the SoCreds and the Progressive Conservatives. Olson had only beat his Tory opponent by 200 votes, and was shown the door in the next election when the Social Credit vote collapsed and Progressive Conservative candidate Bert Hargrave won. The Tories held the seat from that point on until 1993 when the Reform Party won the seat for the first time. Reform became Canadian Alliance which merged with the Progressive Conservatives in 2003 to form the Conservative Party and the Conservatives have won this seat ever since.

The 1993 election was the last to see the winning candidate receive less than 60% of the vote, and was the last time the Liberals won more than 20% of the vote. The riding usually votes overwhelmingly for the main right wing candidate, and only sees somewhat competitive elections when the right wing vote is split. In recent elections, the true battle has been for second place. In 2015, the Liberals finished second with 18% of the vote. In both 2008 and 2011 the second place party was the NDP which won 11% and 13% respectively.

Political geography


Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner is a very, very Conservative riding. Except for the Blood 148 Indian Reserve, every single poll voted Conservative in 2015. Even in the city of Medicine Hat. And outside of the Blood 148 reserve, every single poll has voted Conservative in every single election since the Conservative merger in 2013. And most polls are won by quite large amounts.





The rural areas of the riding are much more Conservative than Medicine Hat itself. All of the rural counties in the riding gave Hillyer at least 80% of the vote in 2015, and only three rural towns did not give him at least 80% of the vote. Home to a large number of Mennonites and Mormons, Cardston County, in the riding's far west was the best municipality for Hillyer, where he won 89% of the vote. His worst municipality was Medicine Hat, where he still won 64.5% of the vote. However on the Blood Reserve, he won a minuscule 2.5% of the vote. There, the NDP (despite finishing third in the overall vote) won 62%, with the Liberals coming in second with 34%. Medicine Hat was the best municipality for both the Liberals and the NDP who won 22% and 9.5% of the vote respectively.

Within the city of Medicine Hat itself, Hillyer's best neighbourhood was Saamis Heights, a newer suburb on the city's south side, where he won 73% of the vote. Hillyer's worst neighbourhood was the Downtown, where he won 47% of the vote. Downtown Medicine Hat was the best neighbourhood for the NDP's candidate, who won 18% of the vote. The best neighbourhood for the Liberal candidate was the Southeast Hill / South Flats area, on the south side of downtown, where they won 31% of the vote. 

2015 federal election results by community


Overall, the best poll for the Conservatives was poll #170, which covers the community of Leavitt, south of Cardston. Leavitt is a Mormon village in Cardston County, which was founded by Thomas Rowell Leaveitt, who had fled the United States after a crackdown on polygamy laws. Hillyer won 94% of the vote there, with just ten people voting for all of the other parties combined. On the other end of the spectrum, there were three polls on the Blood Reserve where Hillyer won a grand total of zero votes (polls #148, #149 and #150). These polls cover the northeastern half of the reserve, and are close to Lethbridge.


Google Streetview photo of Leavitt, Alberta
Google Streetview photo of the Blood Reserve

When it comes to federal elections, voters in the Medicine Hat area are very inelastic. That is, they tend to not change their votes too often, even when the rest of the country is. Despite the Conservatives losing a lot of support across the country in 2011, they actually gained a swing 0.1% in the riding. The Liberals did see an uptick in support, receiving a swing of 6.8%, but this pails in comparison to the 21% national swing they won. Overall, the two party average swing to the Liberals was 3.3%. The Liberals saw the biggest swings in their direction in Medicine Hat and in the Blood Reserve. The Conservatives saw some reasonable swings in more rural areas, and especially in Cypress County. 




In the last provincial election, the election results were not as homogeneous as in past federal elections. The NDP orange crush was big enough to not only win a few polls outside of the Blood reserve (which they won by nearly 90% of the vote), but an entire riding: Medicine Hat, which covers the northern and central parts of the city. Within the Medicine Hat provincial riding, the NDP won the central part of the city, while the Wildrose won the more suburban parts, and the PCs won a few polls in the Norwood and Meadowlands neighbourhoods. Outside of Medicine Hat and the Blood First Nation, the NDP did not win any polls. Most of the rural polls voted for the Wildrose Party, except for a few scattering polls that the Tories won.

Historically, the provincial riding of Cardston-Taber-Warner which overlaps the western third of the Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner riding has been very favourable to right wing third parties. In the 2004 provincial election, it was the only riding to vote for the Alberta Alliance (which later became the Wildrose Party), which helped give that party the credibility which led to its future success.

Outlook


The next MP for Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner will likely be Conservative candidate Glen Motz, who is a retired Medicine Hat police officer. Motz is a social conservative, who became a police officer after following “God's call”, and has a bachelor's degree in religious education. His main opponent is Liberal candidate Stan Sakamoto, a Medicine Hat businessman who is credited as being the first Japanese-Canadian to be born there. Despite a Justin Trudeau rally in Medicine Hat that attracted 2000 people, it would be a huge surprise if Sakamoto could pull this off. Despite going NDP in the provincial election, Medicine Hat is a fairly conservative city, and the rural part of this riding is about as conservative as it gets.

Let's not forget there are other candidates running as well. The NDP is running Bev Waege, who was the party's candidate in Cypress-Medicine Hat in the 2015 election, but was not swept up in the orange wave, finishing third. The Greens are not running any candidates, but look for the Christian Heritage Party candidate (and leader) Rod Taylor to do well here- and by that I mean possibly finish ahead of the NDP. The Libertarians are also running a candidate, as is the Rhinoceros Party.

While I predict the Conservatives will easily win this by-election, I predict the Liberals will win a few polls in central Medicine Hat. They will also likely win the Blood 148 Reserve back from the NDP, as they did in the 2014 Macleod by-election (albeit with comically low turnout). We'll see just how well they do when the polls close at 8:30 Mountain Time (10:30 Eastern).

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Nova Scotia municipal elections today

Today is election day across Nova Scotia's 51 municipalities, as voters go to the polls to elect new mayors, councils and members of the province's eight school boards.

Since the last election held in 2012, the province has reduced the number of municipalities from 54 to 51. This is because on April 1 2015, three municipalities were annexed by their surrounding municipalities. Bridgetown was annexed by the County of Annapolis, Springhill was annexed by the County of Cumberland and Hantsport was annexed by the District of West Hants. The topic of amalgamations and annexations of municipalities in the province continues to be a heated debate as municipalities must wrestle between shrinking tax bases and providing adequate services. A flashpoint in this debate came earlier this year when voters in Pictou County rejected the idea of amalgamating the county's municipalities in a plebiscite by a 66%-34% margin.


Map of Nova Scotia's 51 municipalities

Background


Nova Scotia's municipalities can be divided into three types: Regional Municipalities, Towns and Municipal Districts/Counties. Nova Scotia hasn't had any incorporated cities since a series of amalgamations in the 1990s. There are three Regional Municipalities in the province, including the two largest municipalities, Halifax and Cape Breton. These are unlike the Regional Municipalities in Ontario, for example, in that there are are no lower levels of government in those areas. They are quite large in size, having been created out of the former counties that existed in their place. Each of the three regional municipalities are headed by a mayor, elected at-large and have a number of councillors elected from “districts” (usually called wards in other provinces).

The second form of municipalities are towns, which are very small in geographic size compared to the regional municipalities and the counties and municipal districts. There are 27 towns in Nova Scotia. Each are headed by mayors, elected at-large and have a number of councillors.

The final form of municipalities are the counties and municipal districts. The only difference between counties and municipal districts are that the municipal districts are generally smaller than the counties, having been created out of counties themselves. However, their form of government is much the same. There are nine county municipalities in Nova Scotia and 12 municipal districts. All but two of these jurisdictions are headed by wardens, while the remaining two (Lunenburg District and Colchester County) are headed by mayors, elected at large. In this election, Kings County will elect its mayor for the first time, ditching the old warden-council system. Municipalities with the warden-council system have the wardens elected from among the elected councillors by the councillors themselves. Each county and municipal district are divided into a number of districts from which their councillors are elected.

 Elections in major municipalities

 

 Halifax 

Mayoral candidates
 In the Halifax Regional Municipalty (recently re-branded as just “Halifax”), Atlantic Canada's largest city, the result of today's mayoral election is a foregone conclusion. Mayor Mike Savage, the former Liberal MP for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour (2004-2011) has finished his first term as mayor of the city, and will likely enjoy being re-elected into a second term in the same fashion that most mayors are re-elected in Canada for their second terms, that is in a large landslide. He is only being challenged by one opponent, businesswoman Lil MacPherson who is challenging the centrist mayor from his left. She is the owner of a local organic restaurant. Only one poll of the race was conducted, back in the summer, showing Savage had a commanding 85%-15% lead over MacPherson.



 Savage won the 2012 race in a much more crowded field, but still by a decent margin, winning 58% of the vote, ahead of challengers Tom Martin (20%) and Fred Connors (18%). Three other candidates ran as well, each winning about 1% of the vote. Savage won all 16 districts in the city, doing the best in his native Dartmouth, while doing worse in the more rural parts of the city and in the inner-city. His strongest district was Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East (District 6) where he won 69% of the vote, while his worst district was Spryfield-Sambro-Prospect Road (District 11) on the Chebucto Peninsula, where win won 45% of the vote. This was retired police officer Tom Martin's strongest district, where he won 27% of the vote. Activist and businessman Fred Connors' strongest district was Peninsula North (District 8) in the inner-city, where he won 27% of the vote.

Map of Halifax's 16 council districts

On regional council, four of the city's 16 districts have open races, that is the incumbent in those seats have decided to retire instead of running for re-election. The four districts are District 1 (Waverley-Fall River-Musquodoboit Valley), District 5 (Dartmouth Centre), District 8 (Peninsula North) and District 12 (Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park West-Wedgewood). There will be no elections in District 3 (Dartmouth South-Eastern Passage), District 4 (Cole Harbour-Westphal), District 15 (Lower Sackville) and District 16 (Bedford-Wentworth) as the incumbents there have been acclaimed.


Cape Breton 

Mayoral candidates
The mayoral race in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality will be a re-match of the 2012 election between Cecil Clarke and Rankin MacSween. Clarke served as the MLA for Cape Breton North from 2001 to 2011 for the Progressive Conservative Party before being elected mayor in 2012. MacSween is the head of a community economic development agency.



In 2012, Clarke defeated MacSween by a 59%-38% margin with three minor candidates winning the remaining 3%. I was lucky to be sent the results by district by the region's elections office, though the results by district may be a bit misleading, as over half of all voters voted in advance and did not have their votes recorded by district. Nonetheless, of those voting on election day, Clarke won all but one district in the region. He was especially strong in the Sydney Mines and North Sydney areas (Districts 1 and 2), which cover the provincial riding he represented. The one district he lost was District 11, which covers the New Waterford area. MacSween won the district by just 0.7% of the vote. The New Waterford area has historically been a very strong region for the NDP in provincial elections.

Cape Breton's 12 council districts

Cape Breton has a 12 seat municipal council, which only saw a minor boundary change since the last election. Every seat in the region will see a contested race, and four districts will have open races, including District 10 where disgraced former Liberal MLA Dave Wilson is running.


Kings County


Main mayoral candidates
The third largest municipality in Nova Scotia is actually Kings County, located on the Bay of Fundy in the Annapolis Valley. It includes the communities of Greenwood, Kingston and New Minas just to name a few. The county is seeing its first ever mayoral election, as it has switched from having a warden-council system to a mayor-council system. County warden Diana Brothers has opted to run for re-election in District 5 instead of running for mayor. Running for mayor of the county are four candidates: Rick Ackland, Dick Killam, Peter Muttart and Laurie Porter. Muttart is a county councillor representing the Port Williams area. Killam has also sat on council in the past, as has his wife. Rick Ackland is a retired lawyer who ran for a council seat in 2012, but had his candidacy disqualified. Porter does not appear to have an active campaign.


King County's 9 council districts (new map for 2016)

In addition to ditching the position of warden, the county has also reduced the number of council districts from 12 to nine, reducing the size of council from 13 members to ten. Due to a number of retirements on council however, no district is seeing more than one councillor run against each other.


Colchester County


Mayoral candidates
 The province's fourth largest municipality is Colchester County, which is in the northern part of the province, stretching from the Bay of Fundy to Northumberland Strait and completely surrounding the Town of Truro. Among other communities, it includes the villages of Bible Hill and Tatamagouche. Bob Taylor has been the county's mayor since 2008 and was re-elected by acclamation in 2012. Taylor is a Liberal, having run for that party in the 2006 provincial election in the riding of Colchester North. Unlike in 2012, Taylor is not running unopposed for the mayoralty this time. Councillor Christine Blair has entered the race against Taylor. She represents District 1 on council, which covers the Bible Hill and Brookside communities.


Colchester County's 11 council districts

Colchester County has 11 districts on council, most of which will not be seeing elections as their incumbents have been acclaimed, or in one case (District 1), a non-incumbent was the only candidate to offer. Elections will only occur in two districts: District 2 and District 11.


Those are the four biggest municipalities, but there are other races being held right across the province of course. Polls close at 7pm Atlantic time (6pm Eastern).