Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Saint-Maurice--Champlain and the Liberals (poll maps)

2011 poll map of Saint-Maurice--Champlain coloured by leading party.
Yesterday, it was announced that NDP MP Lise St-Denis crossed the floor to join the Liberal Party of Canada. Apparently, she had a falling out with the party, as she disagreed with the party on some issues. It was enough for her to switch, anyways.

As an electoral geographer, I wanted to take a look at the maps, to see if this was a good idea for her. And what I found was a resounding "no". Historically, this riding has gone Liberal before. After all, part of it was represented by Jean Chretien when he was Prime Minister. However, it should be noted that many of his elections were a little too close for comfort, and without him on the ballot, the area would assuredly have gone to the Bloc. This riding was created in 2003 from the previous riding of Saint-Maurice, which Chretien represented and Champlain, which voted for the BQ in 1993, 1997 and in 2000. The Liberals came within 15 votes of winning Champlain in 2000.  Only the Shawinigan area was taken from the riding of Saint-Maurice. Geographically, most of the riding came from Champlain. Population wise however, 60% of the riding's inhabitants previously lived in Saint-Maurice.

Liberal vote by poll (2011)

The BQ won Saint-Maurice--Champlain in 2004, 2006 and in 2008 before losing to the NDP in 2011. The Liberals have gotten worse and worse in this riding over time. The Liberals finished 2nd in the riding in 2004, with 31% of the vote. They slipped to 3rd in 2006 and 2008 where they received 12% and 21% of the vote respectively. In 2011, they slipped further back to 4th, getting 12% once again.

Mme. St-Denis has cancer, and will probably not run for re-election in 2015. If she followed the NDP's party policy of resigning before switching parties, she would have had to run in a by-election. Under the current political climate, this seat would be a race between the NDP and the BQ. The Liberals would be lucky to finish 3rd. St-Denis, who doesn't live in the riding has no connections there, and refused to move there upon getting election. It is unlikely that her incumbency status would help her win at all.

In 2011, the Liberals won just three regular polls in the entire riding. They won two in the Town of La Tuque, and one apartment poll in Shawinigan. The Liberals did the best in the La Tuque municipality, where their candidate was the former Chief Administrative Officer. The Municipality of La Tuque covers a large geographical area; most of the riding is actually located within the municipality. One would expect the Liberals to have done quite well in Shawinigan, the hometown of Jean Chretien; but they did not.

The NDP did well right across the riding, winning most polls. The Bloc won a small number polls. They won a few clusters here and there, while the Tories won no polls, despite winning more votes than the Liberals.

Map of the riding; highlighted to show former riding boundary between Champlain and Saint-Maurice and also showing the boundary of the municipality of La Tuque.

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