Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ontario area codes and regional polling: disclaimer

This post is a disclaimer against people trying to figure out regional breakdowns of polls.

Always figure out how they decided what riding is in what region!

Some polling firms have a set of ridings they determine to be in this or that region of the province. Most, however, use area codes. It's simple; especially if you are calling people on the phone. Area code X means region X, and area code Y means region Y

The problem is that Ontario's area code map does not perfectly align with our interpretations of what Ontario's regions are.

You can see here some of the oddities. The 905 extends further east than expected, but not nearly as far north as many interpret when they think of the "905 area". Also, Guelph and Kitchener are included within SouthWest Ontario, but Caledon, which is half of the Dufferin-Caledon riding, is not.

In fact there are a number of ridings split in two by area codes. Wellington-Halton Hills is another, where half the voters live in the 905 and the other half do not. In York-Simcoe a similar problem, and again in Northumberland.

This is simply meant as a caution to those reading the regional results and trying to produce their own projections. A high "905" number may not mean a good showing in Barrie; but a high "Northern Ontario" might.


  1. Yeah, these Ontario poll breakdowns are really weird. Thunder Bay and Barrie in one category!?!? Absurd.

    905 issue is always a mess too. Politically the "905" usually represents four regions just outside of Toronto. York, Peel, Durham and Halton regions. But if we use the literal phone area code interpretation, than Hamilton, Niagara, St.Catherines and Northumberland County will be part of it. (Interestingly, this would make Hudak and Horwath 905-ers).

    I feel these pollsters should create a Central Ontario category for Barrie, Simcoe and surrounding regions. This can include ridings such as Newmarket-Aurora, while technically in the GTA, their politics are closer to Barrie than Toronto. A separate category for Hamilton/Niagara/St.Catherines area might also be efficient, since things are different in this part of the province than the immediate 905 ridings.

    1. Interestingly, without knowing much of Ontario, this is almost exactly the regional split I'm using for my model on y site ( I have Niagara/Hamilton as one region, one for Peel-Halton and I do have Barrie-Simcoe in a region called "central". So reading your post reinforced me in my choices (I was contemplating doing a big 905 region to "match" the poll).

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