Sunday, November 30, 2008

The hide your face index of Canadian politics (how many ridings really didn't like you in 2008)

In thinking about single transferable votes I've been looking at the last Canadian election results data. You quickly come to realize that there are lots of ways to interpret or index these number. Of course there is ranking by popular vote, (Conservative, Liberal, NDP, Le Bloc), or how many voters voted for the winner opposed to against (37% vs 63%), and the official who has the plurality in the most amount of ridings (Conservative, Liberal, Le Bloc, NDP).

So what about measuring amount of geography where you are unpopular? Like perhaps the amount of ridings where you don't tell your neighbour your politics because it is very unlikely they agree with you. Where it is best to hide your vote because with this much unpopularity this party is probably considered damaging to your region's interest by others who live there.

So with this in mind I looked at percentage of ridings where each party got less than 15% of the vote. (I chose 15% because it is pretty low and because it gives the most dramatic results. Though you can move that number around and the order of parties remains mostly the same.)

I also think that 15% is low enough that you can't just say that they were spoiled by a slightly more preferred party. It seems to me that if a majority (or near majority) of voters are struggling between Party A and Party B then just by randomness and individual variation both parties should be able to beat the 15% threshold.

And even if 25% of voters will vote strategically if they have to that only gives the party 20% instead of 15% in these ridings.

The Conservatives scored just under 9% (8.77%). I haven't looked but I would guess this is substantially higher than what the Liberals scored during most of their majority governments. But it certainly means that there is probably no overall region (maritimes, praries, etc) where only a fringe, whose interests are different from those of their region, votes conservative.

Of course this number is going to be extremely high for Le Bloc if we count across the country but since they define themselves as a regional party it seems only fair to measure them that way. So Le Bloc scores just over 10% (10.67%). Although they do slightly worse than the Conservatives you probably have to count it as a tie since the Quebec sample is small enough that the Conservative score is within a reasonable margin of error (in fact if Le Bloc got a few more votes in just 2 ridings they would have had a lower score).

Then the numbers start to get a little bigger. The Liberals received less than 15% of the vote in over a quarter of Canadian ridings (26.30%). And the NDP can't get over 15% in over half of all Canadian ridings (53.90%). I find it hard to come up with a tactful way to comment on these numbers so I won't.

For interests sake if you lower the threshold to 10% you get
Conservatives, 2.27% (only 7 ridings, or about 1 in 45)
Le Bloc, 5.33% (only 4 ridings, or about 1 in 20)
Liberals, 12.01% (about 1 in 8)
NDP, 20.97% (about 1 in 5)

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