Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Brunswick provincial redistribution and transposition

2010 Election results on the new boundaries
Yesterday, New Brunswick Premier David Alward met with the New Brunswick lieutenant-governor, asking for the province's legislative assembly to dissolve on Thursday. This will mark the beginning of the 2014 New Brunswick election campaign, which is scheduled to occur in just over one month's time, on September 22nd. The 2014 election will be fought over new electoral district boundaries, which were set by a commission last year. In total, New Brunswick Legislative Assembly will be reduced in size from 55 seats to 49 seats, meaning there will be six fewer ridings in the province. In a rare move in Canadian history, the redistribution saw a complete re-draw of the electoral map, due to the dramatic decrease in the number of ridings.

The decrease in the number of seats in the Assembly hurts the depopulating north the most, as Northern New Brunswick loses two seats with the redistribution (going from 10 to 8). Next door Miramichi is also badly hurt by the redistribution, as it sees a 25% reduction of seats, going from four seats to three. The Upper Saint John River Valley, Central New Brunswick (Fredericton area) and Southern New Brunswick (Saint John) all lose one seat a piece. No regions of the province sees a gain in seats, but Southeast New Brunswick, which includes the Greater Moncton Area, sees a net gain/loss of zero seats. 

Actual 2010 election results

Due to these changes, I took the initiative to calculate the results of the last provincial election in 2010 and transpose them on the new boundaries. Unfortunately, Elections New Brunswick did not publicly release their own transposition numbers, unlike some other provinces. I'm not the only blogger to do to a transposition, nbpolitico did one (but he's only providing more detailed numbers at a cost) and Blunt Objects did one as well, free of charge (much to my chagrin, as I had already started on this project, not realizing someone else would do it!). Interestingly, both nbpolitico and Blunt Objects show different numbers than in my transposition. They obviously used a different methodology than myself, so all my effort was not all for naught. 


To calculate my transposition, I identified which polling divisions would be going into which new riding, which was usually quite simple, but involved some guess-work, as in many cases, the new boundaries split up polling divisions. Then, I added up the results from the 2010 election from these polling divisions based on the new ridings they were in. But, that did not account for all of the votes cast in 2010. I had to account for advance votes and special votes (prisoners, military personnel, people living abroad). Advance votes were cast in larger polling divisions. Elections New Brunswick usually identified which polling divisions the advance voting divisions covered. When an advance polling division was entirely in a new riding, I added its result to the total for the new riding. When it spanned more than one new riding, I redistributed the results based on the ratio of the results in the regular polls they overlapped with. With the special votes, which were not allotted to any individual riding, I redistributed the results based on the same ratios as the regular votes cast in the riding. For example, if 40% of the Liberal regular votes in a riding were redistributed into riding “A”, than 40% of the special votes cast for the Liberals were allotted to riding “A”.

According to my redistribution methodology, the Liberals would have won 11 of the new ridings, while the Progressive Conservatives would have won 38. This would be two fewer seats for the Liberals from their actual 2010 total (13), and four fewer for the Progressive Conservatives, who won 42 seats in 2010. This shows that the new map is relatively fair, as it takes seats away from both parties. 

In Northern New Brunswick, the Liberals would have won just three seats, two fewer than the five they actually won in 2010. The Tories however, would retain their five seats. In Eastern New Brunswick, the Liberals would have won five seats on the new boundaries, down from seven which they actually won. This is beneficial to the Tories, who would win an extra seat from the Liberals in the Moncton area. Boundary changes in the rest of the province were more beneficial to the Liberals, where they won just one seat in 2010. The new boundaries would have given them two new seats, Fredericton South and Saint John Harbour. Changes in the rest of the province hurt the Tories the most, as they would see a reduction of five seats there.

The other parties in New Brunswick did not win any seats in 2010, and would not win any with the new boundaries either. The best result for the NDP would be in Tracadie-Sheila, where they won 33%, thanks to their leader, Roger Duguay having ran there. The Green's best result would be in Fredericton South, where they won 13% in 2010. Fredericton South contains the more progressive parts of Fredericton, taking in parts of the former ridings of Ferericton-Silverwood and Fredericton-Lincoln. The populist People's Alliance Party saw their best result in Fredericton-Grand Lake (14%), which contains part of the former riding of Grand Lake-Gagetown, where their leader Kris Austin ran.

Redistributed results of the 2010 New Brunswick election on the new ridings being used in 2014.

According to my transposition numbers, the closest of the new ridings on the new map would have been Moncton Centre, where my numbers show the Tories winning by just 6 (0.1%) transposed votes! Moncton Centre contains parts of the Liberal riding of Moncton East and the Tory riding of Moncton North. Interestingly, the incumbents from both Moncton East and Moncton North will duke it out to see who will win the new riding. The next closest riding would have been Saint John Harbour, where my numbers show the Liberals having won by 0.16%. This would be a gain for the Liberals, as the riding on its old boundaries elected a Tory in 2010. Fredericton South also saw a close race, with my transposed numbers showing the Liberals having won it by just 0.17% on the new boundaries. The new riding contains the most Liberal parts of two current PC-held ridings, Fredericton-Silverwood and Fredericton-Lincoln. Other close ridings were Fundy-The Isles-Saint John West (Liberal by 1.3%), Miramichi (Liberal by 1.3%), Bathurst West-Beresford (PC by 1.8%), Campbellton-Dalhousie (PC by 2.95%) and Shediac Bay-Dieppe (Liberal by 3.8%).

The 49 new ridings (click to enlarge)

Throughout the election campaign, I will be using my calculated numbers to do my seat projection forecasts for the election. However, there have yet to be any recent polls released in the province, so I will not be doing any projections until they are released. (Any poll conducted before Labour Day should be treated with a grain of salt, anyways).

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