Saturday, April 02, 2011

Canadian Election 2011:: Ontario Federal Swing Ridings {Swingdex}

Federal 2008 Election Results in Ontario, CBC
I'm currently developing an index of partisanship in federal ridings, tentatively called a RPI for riding partisanship index. Since Ontario is a battleground province with big stakes for the NDP, Conservatives, and the Liberals, I started here. I'm developing a metric based on Cook PVI, used in the US. It gets a little thorny to apply this in a multi-party and Parliamentary system, so I'm making adjustments accordingly. Ideally, this index will help to characterize partisanship in ridings with the objective of improving predictive ability in multivariate modelling for seat projections. I'll go into the math on the index in a future blog post with a full explanation of the methodology.

Right now, I have some preliminary index results and I wanted to use them to identify swing ridings based solely on previous elections. So, candidate characteristics, such as incumbency or issues like Helena Guergis getting kicked out of caucus and running independently {Simcoe—Grey} and the controversy swirling around Bev Oda {Durham}, do not factor in.

Each riding has a score index that shows the degree to which voters in that riding support the party that holds that riding, relative to the provincial average. Here in Toronto Centre, the riding is a Liberal +18 on the riding partisanship index., indicating that Liberal support is 18 points above the provincial average. There are issues with this crude metric in its current form, which tends to break down in certain conditions I'll go into in the future.

On to the "Swingdex", which lists 21 ridings with relatively low levels of partisanship of the party that holds the riding, a relatively high level of partisan support for a rival, and a history of low margin victories::

RidingRiding Partisanship Index
{Swingdex subset}
ThreatAverage Margin 
of Victory (06-08) &
Party Won (04-10)*
Beaches—East YorkLiberal+4NDP7% LLL
Brampton—SpringdaleLiberal+7Cons.9% LLL
Brampton WestLiberal+8Cons8% LLL
BrantConservative +3Liberal5% LLC
EssexConservative+4Liberal9% CCC
GuelphLiberal ("-2")Cons.6% LLL
Huron—BruceConservative+6Liberal7% LLC
KenoraConservative (0)Liberal7% LLC
Kitchener CentreConservative ("-1")Liberal6% LLC
Kitchener—WaterlooConservative ("-4")Liberal9% LLC
London North CentreLiberal+3Cons.8% LLL
London WestConservative+1Liberal8% LLC
Mississauga—ErindaleConservative+5Liberal3% LLC
Mississauga SouthLiberal+7Cons.4% LLL
Oak Ridges—MarkhamConservative+4Cons.5% LLC
OshawaConservative+4NDP15% CCC
Ottawa—OrléansConservative+7Liberal4% LCC
Parkdale—High ParkLiberal+3NDP6% LNL
St. CatherinesConservative+6Liberal9% LCC
ThornhillConservative+5Liberal15% LLC
VaughanConservative+1Liberal17% LLLC
*C=Conservative, L=Liberal, and N=NDP. Includes 2010 Vaughan by election.

There are issues with this that I hope to remedy with further analyses. I don't like the negative numbers and I might be missing ridings that perhaps should be included, such as Sault Ste. Marie, Trinity—Spadina, and Welland that have had close average winning margins, at 4, 6, and 3%, respectively. I'm hoping the use of the quick cluster algorithm can help refine the index, although I want to maintain the idea that the index relates to relative vote margins, or possibly incorporating winning margins in a formula.

There's overlap with the Globe & Mail's list of 50 ridings to watch, that includes 15 Ontario ridings, and the Toronto Star's 7 GTA ridings to watch. One riding that I'm not capturing that others are is Eglinton—Lawrence.

The latest EKOS poll has the Conservatives widening the gap in Ontario and the NDP is holding steady with what I see is a strong platform. Nick Nanos states that if the numbers hold that there will be a turnover of seats for Harper because of the Conservative's strong Ontario numbers, but I think it's far too early to be thinking of Ontario paving the way for a Harper majority. Ignatieff and the Liberals have ran a solid campaign this week and I think the conventional wisdom is that the Conservatives will lose support over time since they will be playing their cards cautiously. I also think Harper is gaffe prone and doesn't always have good political instincts. There are also local issues for the Conservatives like Rob Anders being protected by Harper twice in Calgary West , the odd Togneri affair in Edmonton—Strathcona, and the media ducking of Agop Evereklian in Pierrefonds—Dollard regarding past shadiness of the candidate and allegations that his now former campaign manager was involved in an elections scandal. Whether these local issues can turn into a death by papercuts remains to be seen, but there is a common theme of impropriety and lack of transparency.

I'll be refining this index and will report numbers for all Ontario ridings before I move on to Atlantic Canada. I'll also be putting this on a GIS map.

Twitterversion:: [blog] Preliminary "Swingdex" offers metric for evaluating swing riding partisanship in election battleground Ontario. @Prof_K

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