Monday, March 4, 2013

Calgary Centre By-Election Poll-by-Poll

So finally, Elections Canada has released their official poll-by-poll counts for the three by-elections we had last year in Calgary Centre, Durham, and Victoria.

Two of these three by-elections were interesting, with Calgary Centre ending up forming as a three-way race between the Liberal's Harvey Locke, the Conservative's Joan Crockatt, and the Green's Chris Turner. Victoria ended up as a surprisingly close race between the NDP's Murray Rankin and the Green's Donald Galloway.

So now that we have these results, we can explore a little more in-depth what happened during the by-election. Let's start off with Calgary Centre.

Calgary Centre 2012 By-election
Conservative: 10,191 votes (-14.6K) - 36.9% (-20.8%)
Liberal Party: 9,033 votes (+402) - 32.7% (+15.2%)
Green Party: 7,090 votes (+2.2K) - 25.7% (+15.7%)
New Democratic: 1,064 votes (-6.2K) - 3.9% (-11.0%)
Others: 262
Turnout: 27,732 votes (-21.7K) - 29.5% (-25.9%)

Before we look at the poll-by-poll results, we can take a look at the topline numbers. What's clear is that the Liberals held their vote more than they managed to increase support. The Conservatives and New Democrats lost most of their voters to non-voters, with 70.5% of people in the riding not bothering to come out, almost 22,000 down from 2011. The Conservatives lost almost 15,000 voters in this by-election, the NDP lost over 6,000. The impressive results posted by the Liberals and Greens in this riding should not be considered sustainable when the vast majority of voters didn't bother to come out. In other words, don't expect a repeat in 2015, barring any exceptional circumstances.

On to the poll-by-poll.

When you compare this to the 2011 results, the difference is amazing. Conservative blue is no longer dominate, with green and red spreading across the riding.

As expected, the Conservatives retained most of their support in the western and southern portions of the riding, where the old Reform/Alliance parties dominated as pointed out by Earl Washburn here, while the Liberal's best area was in the downtown core, where the provincial riding of Calgary-Buffalo also resides, though they managed to score themselves as the main opposition in the west and southern suburbs. But, downtown is where Locke posted his best results, and where most of his support came from.

Green candidate Chris Turner also had quite a lot of strength in the downtown core, but many Green polls actually ended up spreading into the suburbs, and quite a few of the Conservative polls featured Con-Green races, instead of Con-Lib. While Turner's support wasn't enough to overcome the localized strength of the other two parties, its clear that on a good day, the Green's boat would float in all areas, making them a formidable foe to both of the other parties.

The regular advantage the Conservatives have in advanced polls also helped the incumbents, as the Conservatives won 43% to the Liberal's 34%, the Green's 16%, and the NDP's 5%. Mobile polls also seemed to be heavily Conservative, which I suppose are most likely seniors homes and the like.

This being said, these poll-by-poll results are asterisked thanks to the low turnout in the by-election. Yes, the Liberals and Greens won many polls that were dominated by the Conservatives in 2011. No, I don't think they'll repeat this colourful feat.

What can we make of the numbers? From the standpoint of the two parties that lost votes, the Conservatives and NDP, we can make some assumptions based on the "regional" results. The Conservatives no doubt lost most of their supporters to non-voters, but otherwise they faced fairly uniform loses throughout the riding. Their weakest area, the downtown, continued to be so.

The NDP, whose strongest area in 2011 was the downtown, were wiped out in this election, of course. Its unknown if most of their voters became non-voters, or if they moved to the Liberals and Greens, and helped supplement their numbers Either way, they were not a factor except in a couple of polls.

Anyways, below is something of an interactive graph for the poll results that you can run down if you're so inclined. Also, I mapped the by-election results into the Calgary-wide map I made for Daveberta awhile back, to see what it kind of looks like under the new boundaries and within the context of the sea of blue surrounding it.

Next time I'll be looking into the Victoria results, though I couldn't tell you when I'll get that done. Soon, hopefully.


  1. I earlier had missed this point that is in the current Huffington story about Trudeau:

    "Just a few days before a Calgary by-election the Liberals were poised to win, the NDP leaked to Sun Media a French-language interview Trudeau gave in 2010 in which he suggested Canada had fared poorly because Albertans controlled the socio-democratic agenda."

    The NDP didn't stand a chance in Calgary Centre and they leaked something to Sun News to help the Conservatives win. That seems pretty direct for them, not subtle at all. Part of a deal with the Cons or just Mulcair's style?

    1. Mulcair's style/strategy, more than likely. How bad would it have looked not just on the Conservatives, but also for the NDP, to see the Liberals win a seat in Calgary? Any successful NDP narrative relies on people believing the Liberals are irrelevant. A win in Calgary would show Canadians that we aren't. That's dangerous to the NDP.

      This is another reason why Murray's co-operation idea is bollocks. How can we work with the NDP in any sort of good faith when they've shown none towards us?

  2. Murray's pre-election co-op idea is a non-starter. I like to give all the candidates the benefit of the doubt, so I assume she knows this, but is trying to bring into the Liberal fold swing voters who don't belong to either party and who are attracted by the idea, even if it is unrealistic. Maybe a few will hang around after investing their time in the leadership race - or at least the LPC has their contact info to try to sway them in the future.