Monday, May 16, 2011

The new Liberal constituency: less wealthy, less diverse and very East Coast

Two weeks ago, the Liberal Party of Canada had its representation in the House of Commons reduced by more than half. The Grits did not gain any new seats but only managed to hold on to 34 of the 77 ridings they held when the election was called. But in addition to being culled to less than half its size, the constituency that the Liberal Party now represents has also changed. It is poorer, less ethnically diverse, and more concentrated on the Atlantic coast.

You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website. There is a condensed version of the article in today's print edition, as well.

This piece is an analysis of the demographic profile of all ridings held by the Liberals before and after the election. I will be looking at the New Democrats next week and the Conservatives the week after that. It's based on the 2006 Census, which can be found here.

Here are a few highs and lows for the 34 Liberal ridings:

Largest population: Markham - Unionville (127,000)
Smallest population: Charlottetown (32,000)
Oldest median age: Cape Breton - Canso (45.5 years)
Youngest median age: Etobicoke North (34.8 years)
Highest median household income: Markham - Unionville ($78,500)
Lowest median household income: Papineau ($32,500)
Ridings in which French is the largest language group: 2
Ridings in which neither English nor French is the largest language group: 8
Ridings in which immigrants are the majority: 5
Riding with the largest aboriginal population: Winnipeg North (15,150)

The difference between the New Democratic constituency before and after the election should be remarkable, as the party has gone from having 3% of their seats in Quebec to 57%.


  1. This is work I would hope the parties are doing themselves. For the Liberals, for example, their first step in regaining some relevance has to be discovering which people supported them in this election compared to previous elections, so they can have some idea of where the low-hanging fruit is.

    In charitable fundraising, it is said that the best new donor is the donor you already have. People who have supported the Liberals in the past are the people to whom the Liberals need to appeal if they want to recover from this, but they can't do that unless they work out who those people are.

    I kind of expect one of the major parties to offer you a job soon, Éric.

  2. Note that these calculations are not a reflection of who voted Liberal, but rather who the Liberals represent in the House of Commons.

  3. Exactly. Because so much of the surviving Liberal caucus is from Atlantic Canada - it looks more downscale in terms of who they represent than the actual profile of Liberal voters probably is.

    There is likely to be a disconnect soon between a Liberal caucus that is largely from low income ridings and a Liberal party brass that probably wants to go after wealthy, educated socially liberal voters.

  4. The analysis within the Globe was focused on % across the ridings. But, surely one of the messages of this election, heard from Justin Trudeau and the Tories is the focus on the micro community campaign.

    That's why these two stats pop out at me.

    Ridings in which neither English nor French is the largest language group: 8
    Ridings in which immigrants are the majority: 5

    As a % of their seats, that's got to be larger then the other parties. It seems to be abou the same as the % within the Liberal caucus before this election. Sure, the Ontario ridings of the Tory party within the 905 outnumber those totals. But, the influence of having more % of seats coming from diverse ridings offsets the % drop in linguistic diversity across Liberal seats. Liberal ridings either are very diverse or not diverse at all.

    Frankly, I'd be more interested in what the ridings are like when you add them as whole's to a total, then when you add up the totals within them all.

  5. Certainly they can refine the picture of who voted for them using the poll-by-poll results (which are publicly available - I'll certainly be looking at them), but right now the best view we have of Liberal voters is the denizens of Liberal ridings.

  6. Agreed, just wanted to clear up any potential confusion as to what the numbers were showing.


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