Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Great Dividing Line:: Vancouver, BC Federal Voting Patterns

For a while now, I've been looking at maps users are creating with shape files and results from the 40th. general election in Canada in 2008 {HT:: Impolitical}, as I'm analyzing the Saanich-Gulf Islands federal riding where Elizabeth May {Green Party of Canada Leader} will be running in the next election.  I've been familiar with dividing lines creating distinct political and cultural zones, such as The Main dividing Montréal, so it was interesting to see the east/west divide in Vancouver, BC in terms of NDP support, which goes roughly along Ontario Street.  I added the line, using Gimp 2.6.4, using the PATH tool with STROKE and AIRBRUSH.

Thanks to the Beat Cop Poet acting as guide, I had the chance to saunter along this border region in Mt. Pleasant, Strathcona, and Downtown Eastside.  While it divides Mt. Pleasant and Riley Park, the line separates Gastown, Downtown Eastside, and Chinatown {trending NDP} from the eastern edge of Downtown, and Oakridge and Marpole {trending Conservative} from Sunset {trending Liberal}.  The Sunset is diverse with a working-class history, but is being increasingly gentrified by professionals seeking more affordable housing.

Clearly, Web 2.0 can put data into the hands of the public, democratizing knowledge.  I'm just learning how to use open source GIS mapping software, but I see the potential here.  Of course, politicians can use information like this strategically to plan campaign strategies, but they can also use these maps to better serve their constituencies.  Constituents themselves can create data-driven maps and infographics to organize communities and influence policy.

From a mapping point of view, it would be interesting to create a colour coding/shading scheme that would represent voting percentages with respect to specific competitors.  For example, if the Tories win a riding with 40% of the vote, it would provide more information to colour code the riding differently, given the party with the next plurality.  This example might not be feasible on maps where the precincts are small, but the idea here is simple.  The background colour is the party that won the riding.  The circles are the also-rans, with the size of the circle reflecting votes received::

So, in this case, the Conservatives won the precinct {the shade of blue reflecting the % of votes, where darker = a greater %'ge}, with the NDP and Libs trailing, in that order.  A colour or shading scheme might be clearer to read and interpret.  I thought of using colour shadings, in the two-party US, "purple" maps were generated after the 2004 election to show preferences along red-blue {Republican-Democrat}lines.

I started looking at these to analyze the Saanich--Gulf Islands riding for a future post, where Elizabeth May {Green}, Gary Lunn {Conservative}, and Renée Hetherington {Liberal} are all likely to be running, as a follow up to my  post analyzing May's prospects for an MP seat.

Twitterversion:: Web2_0 #Vancouver precinct map {2008 gen.elections} generates georeferencing infographics. Democratizing data in #CanPoli.  @Prof_K

Song:: Toothpaste - Birdapres {Vancouver, BC}

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