Friday, April 26, 2013

British Columbia provincial election "swing-o-metre"

British Columbians head to the polls next month (May 14) to elect a new government. In the past, I have made provincial election predictions, but unfortunately due to my new position at Probit Inc. I will be holding off on making predictions, due to possible conflict of interest purposes. However, I will be making various geography related posts in having to do with the upcoming election, including projections based solely on published polls, without factoring in any hearsay like I have done in the past.

Today, I take a look at the B.C. “swing-o-metre”, a simple measurement tool that shows how much swing is needed for the Liberals or the NDP (B.Cs two main parties) to win a seat. A swing is a calculation that is the average change between the Liberals and the NDP. For example, the most recent Ipsos-Reid poll shows the NDP at 48% and the Liberals at 29%. For the NDP, that would be an increase of 6% from their showing in the last election in 2009. For the Liberals, that would be a decrease of 17%. If you average those two numbers you get about 11.5%, which would be the swing from the Liberals to the NDP.

The chart on the left shows the swing needed for either party to win each seat from the result they got in the last election. For example, for the Liberals to win the riding of Surrey-Green Timbers, they would need a 24% swing from the NDP. On the other extreme is the riding of West Vancouver-Capilano which would require a 26% swing from the Liberals to the NDP in order for the NDP to take the riding. This swing-o-metre works because all but one seat in the legislature was won by either party in 2009. One riding, Delta South was won by an independent, however I kept that riding on the chart to show how much the NDP would need in order to get ahead of the Liberals there (but not necessarily win).

In the 2009 election, the conservative leaning BC Liberals, lead by then Premier Gordon Campbell won a majority of the province's 85 ridings by winning 48 seats to the N.D.P.'s 35. (As mentioned, 1 seat was won by an Independent). Since then, Campbell's government became very unpopular, and he resigned. He was replaced by Christy Clark, who as of yet has been unable to rescue the party. During her reign, the province has seen the rise of the even more right wing Conservative Party, which had been a fringe party. It is now lead by former MP John Cummins. While the new Conservatives may not win any seats, they are polling in the low teens, and that vote is coming straight from the Liberals. However, even if the Liberals and the Conservatives were a united force, they still wouldn't match the polling the NDP is at. The NDP is at historic highs in the polls, led by popular leader Adrian Dix. Most polls show the NDP in the mid-40s, and the Liberals in the high 20s. There is also the BC Green Party, which is polling around the level of the Conservatives.

The most recent polls, from last week show a 7-12% swing from the Liberals to the NDP from the last election. According to the swing-o-metre, this would give the NDP 55-65 seats, a strong majority. The swing-o-metre also shows that the NDP needs only a swing of 1.93% to get a majority of the seats (43). This swing would give them the ridings of Maple Ridge-Mission, Cariboo-Chilcotin, Saanich North and the Islands, Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Kamloops-North Thompson, Burnaby North, Burnaby-Lougheed and Vancouver-Fraserview. To get to those 55 seats, the NDP would also win Vernon-Monashee, Surrey-Tynehead, Vancouver-Point Grey (Premier Clark's riding), North Vancouver-Lonsdale, Chilliwack, Port Moody-Coquitlam (a riding they hold now, thanks to a by-election win last Spring), Penticton, Prince George-Valemount and Parksville-Qualicum (securing a sweep of Vancouver Island). Of course, this only assumes a province-wide uniform swing, which we know wont actually happen. But it's a rough guide to see what riding's are in play. 

Swing-o-metre map. The darker the riding, the larger the swing necessary for the opposing party to win.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kent by-election in New Brunswick

A provincial by-election is currently being held in the riding of Kent, New Brunswick, today. (I would have liked to have done a more thorough analysis of the race, but I was pre-empted by the federal Liberal leadership race map. But anyways, I will lay down the need-to-know)


The riding is a rural one, located in Eastern New Brunswick. Its largest community is Bouctouche, a town of 2400 people. The riding is home to three linguistic communities. 55% of the population are Francophone,  one third are English, while 10% of the riding speaks the local Native language, Mi’kmaq (Micmac). The riding extends from the Northumberland Strait in the east into the interior of the province, and consists of two valleys, the Bouctouche River valley in the south, and the Richibucto River valley in the north. The former is home to the French part of the riding, and the latter is Anglophone and is also home to the main Mi’kmaq reserve in the riding, the Elsipogtog First Nation.

The riding was vacated when former Liberal Premier Shawn Graham resigned on March 13. The riding has been in the Graham family since 1967, as his father, Alan served before him. Indeed, the area is a Liberal stronghold, and the riding has voted Liberal in every election since 1917 except for 1971 when one of its then 3 MLAs that got elected was a Tory:

MLAs  since 1917
3 members
P.J. Melanson, Liberal (1917-1925)
A.J. Bordage, Liberal (1917-1944)
A.A. Dysart, Liberal (1917-1940)
R.G. Richard, Liberal (1925-1930)
F.G. Richard, Liberal (1930-1939)
Isaie Melanson, Liberal (1939-1956)
J.K. McKee, Liberal (1940-1952)
Armand Richard, Liberal (1944-1952)
H.A. Dysart, Liberal (1952-1964)
L.J. Robichaud, Liberal (1952-1971)
A.F. Richard, Liberal (1956-1974)
Camille Bordage, Liberal (1964-1967)

Omer Leger, Prog. Cons. (1971-1974)
1 member after 1974
A.R. Graham, Liberal (1967-1998)
S.M. Graham, Liberal (1998-2013)

Poll map, 2010 provincial election

Running for the Liberals this time is their current leader, Brian Gallant, a half-Acadian, half-Dutch New Brunswicker. The Tories are running Jimmy Bourque, a former political staffer who does not live in the riding. The NDP is running Susan Levi-Peters, a former chief of the Elsipogtog First Nation, and the provincial candidate in 2010 and also the federal candidate in 2011.

Interestingly, the Anglophone part of the riding is the more Liberal friendly, as former Premier Graham is an Anglophone from the village of Rexton. The Francophone part of the riding is the more Tory friendly, but in the last provincial election, also went Liberal, but with smaller margins. The Tories won all 5 of their polls in the Bouctouche area. The NDP won 2 polls, both on the Elsipogtog First Nation. More than half of the NDP vote in the riding came from those two polls.

Federally, the riding has seen a similar pattern in recent history. Kent is located in the federal riding of Beausejour, which is also a Liberal riding. The Kent part of the riding was very evenly split in the last election, with the remote interior, and the upper Richibucto Valley going Tory, as well as parts of the Bouctouche area. The Bouctouche Valley actually went Liberal, as well as the lower Richibucto Valley. The Mi’kmaq areas went NDP (both reserves in the riding). Before the 2011 election, the Kent area was much more Liberal friendly, with patterns more closely resembling the provincial patterns.

Polls close at 8pm Atlantic (7 Eastern).

Liberal leadership race - results map

Much to my excitement, the Liberals have released riding by riding results of their leadership race which was released Sunday. As expected, Justin Trudeau won, but he won big- with 80% of the vote. Finishing second was MP Joyce Murray with 10% of the vote. Trudeau won across the county, and only lost 5 ridings- all in BC which Murray won.

Here is the map:

Trudeau did the best on the east coast, especially in Newfoundland, but also in areas with large minority communities. His weakest areas tended to be urban areas friendly to the NDP, where progressive Liberal voters may have been attracted to Joyce Murray. Murray did well in her home province, where she won 5 ridings, including her own. No other candidates won any ridings.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Federal Liberal leadership maps

The Canadian Election Atlas is back from hiatus to take a look at the federal Liberal Party leadership race which will decide a winner today. Admittedly, it has not been a race I have been interested in too much, as since the beginning, the winner has been a foregone conclusion. (If you've been living in a box, that winner is Justin Trudeau). Despite this foregone conclusion, the race has six candidates, and at one point had as many as nine candidates. The last time a Liberal leadership race was a foregone conclusion (not including 2009), there were only two candidates (when Paul Martin beat Sheila Copps in 2003).

Despite the race being a foregone conclusion, the abundance of candidates has meant that there is a race, and the Liberal Party's decision to ditch the traditional delegated conventions and move to a more democratic one member one vote system has made the race at least a little interesting. And it's not just a one member, one vote system either, as the Liberals have expanded the amount of people who can vote in their leadership election by allowing people who “support” the party to vote in it, without needing to get a membership. In total, 127000 people are eligible to vote the Liberal leadership race.

The press has had a field day comparing the Liberal leadership race to the NDP's leadership race. Indeed, the amount of registered voters is similar (the NDP had about 131000 eligible voters). However, the Liberals have surpassed the NDP in terms of actual voters. I won't go into partisan reasons why, but I just thought it was interesting.

Anyways, much like the NDP race, I have made an endorsement map for the Liberal leadership race. It's not nearly as interesting as the NDP race, as there were fewer endorsements made, and most endorsements were for Justin Trudeau. In terms of political endorsements (only counting people who have been democratically elected), Trudeau leads in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. 2nd place candidate Joyce Murray (MP for Vancouver Quadra) leads the endorsement race in her home province of BC, while former MP Martha Hall Findlay (Willowdale) leads in Alberta and New Brunswick. Saskatchewan, which had just two endorsers is a tie between Trudeau and Murray, with one endorsement each. Deborah Coyne is the only other candidate with a political endorsement. Candidates Martin Cauchon and Karen McCrimmon have none.

Endorsement map.
Click to enlarge.

Hopefully the Liberal Party will release provincial results for their leadership race, but might hold out on doing so, like the NDP. If they do, it will be interesting to compare the actual results to the endorsements. In any event, if the endorsement map tells us anything, it is that this race is Trudeau's to lose. If there is a race for second, it will be between Joyce Murray and Martha Hall Findlay, although I personally think Murray has the edge.

Like I did for the NDP leadership race, I have also created a number of “membership” (read: registered voter) maps for the race, showing the registered voter distribution (both in raw numbers and percentage of population), registered voters to MP ratio and votes in 2011 to registered voters ratio:

Province / Territory Registered voters for leadership race % of population Liberal registered voters to MP ratio 2011 Liberal voters to Liberal registered voters
Alberta 9302 0.26 - 13.9
British Columbia 16098 0.37 8049 15.6
Manitoba 4444 0.37 4444 18.3
New Brunswick 6889 0.92 6889 12.8
Newfoundland and Labrador 3149 0.61 787.25 26.1
Northwest Territories 176 0.42 - 16.3
Nova Scotia 7425 0.81 1856.25 17.6
Nunavut 56 0.18 - 40.4
Ontario 59474 0.46 5406.7 23.5
Prince Edward Island 2611 1.86 870.3 12.4
Quebec 14577 0.18 1822.1 36.9
Saskatchewan 2700 0.26 2700 14.3
Yukon 223 0.66 - 23.7
TOTAL 127124 0.4 3832.1 21.9

The first map shows the provinces and territories coloured in my number of registered Liberal voters. Ontario has by far the most amount of voters at 59,474 which accounts for 47% of the Liberal electorate. Interestingly, British Columbia is next with 16,098 followed by Quebec at 14,577. Not surprisingly, Nunavut has the least amount of Liberal leadership voters at 56.

The second map is coloured by the percentage of the population who are eligible to vote for Liberal leader. Prince Edward Island tops this list, as the only province or territory where more than 1% of the population is registered to vote (1.86%). The next highest is New Brunswick at 0.92% followed by Nova Scotia at 0.81%. Quebec and Nunavut are the lowest at just 0.18%. 

The next maps shows the registered Liberal vote to MP ratio. BC tops this list, having just 2 Members of Parliament for it 16000 voters. New Brunswick is next, with just one MP for its 6900 voters. The province with the best ratio is Newfoundland and Labrador which has 4 Members for 3149 registered voters. Alberta, and the three Territories have no Liberal MPs.

The final map shows the ratio of actual Liberal voters (that is people who voted Liberal in the last federal election) to registered Liberal voters. One thing I found from this calculation is how relatively even these numbers are across the provinces and territories. The range goes from 40 in Nunavut to 12 in PEI. This is far more even than we saw in the NDP race, where we saw some large discrepancies, such as in Quebec.