Split Election Ridings in Canada

Delores Broten

Election 2015 Battleground RidingsThe cigars may be gone (or maybe not), but the stench of backroom politics continues to be a serious turn off for the potential Canadian voter. It is easy to despair that no one can make a difference and your vote doesn’t matter.
But after the 2011 federal election, an article by Matt Peters and Ryan Boldt on rabble.ca announced that “6,201 was the COMBINED margin of victory across the 14 most closely contested Conservative ridings in Canada.” Those 6,200 votes  handed

Stephen Harper his majority Conservative government. And those votes surely have made a difference.
As for the election pending in October 2015 or sooner, recent polls indicate that the country remains split: about a third of the people favour the Conservatives, another third the Liberals, and the NDP are runners up with one fifth or more of the voting intention. By the logic of our first-past-the-post system, this would be enough for another Conservative majority.

Judging from calculations run by the Dogwood Initiative, the results are likely to be just as close as in 2011. Dogwood took the 2011 election results, shuffled the poll-level numbers into the new federal ridings, and produced a chart which shows the extreme level of tight races and split ridings likely if the vote follows the 2011 pattern. That’s a big if, but number crunching is always fun, and sometimes illuminating.

Winners with less than 5% of the vote would be Conservative in 16 ridings, NDP in 18, and Liberals in 11. Closest competition under the 2011 conditions for the Conservations would be NDP in 6 ridings, Liberals in 11. For the NDP, the close contest would be with Conservatives in 11 ridings and Liberals in 7. For the Liberals, it would be Conservatives in 8 ridings, and NDP in 6. We have to remember that these numbers are generated from the election with Jack Layton’s “Orange Crush” and a spectacular Liberal meltdown.

As for the number of voters who could turn any of these projections on their heads – they range from 100 or 200 to a few thousand, in ridings with 24,000 to 91,000 eligible voters, about three out of five of whom bother to cast a ballot. In other words, just you, your family, and your Facebook friends could swing one out of ten ridings in the country, and the election.
No wonder all the politicians are acting like cats on a hot tin roof.

Download PDF of New Federal Ridings with 2011 Election Results




Delores Broten is the editor of the Watershed Sentinel.

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