Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Colours of the Ridings: Manitoba, 2008

So the previous blog entry explains what 'the colours of the ridings' means. The day I did the map for Saskatchewan, I also did one for Manitoba. Events are rapidly conspiring to make 2008 ancient history, but I did the map, so I might as well get it out there, pre-election. It looks like this:

Manitoba has the urban-rural split that strange riding boundaries have denied Saskatchewan. And there's a clear difference too. Of course, by square kilometres the vast majority of this province is one riding, and a reliably NDP riding it is too. But outside of Churchill, the rural ridings are pretty darn blue. In Winnipeg, though, we see more colours. It never gets overly red, but it gets a pretty deep purple in the south. The north is more reliably green though.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Colours of the Ridings: Saskatchewan, 2008

Have you ever seen a variation on the colour wheel that you can find on some 'paint'-style computer programmes, that I call a 'colour hive', since it is often a grid of hexagonal cells?

Well, in any case, I was thinking about how to visually represent voting percentages in multiparty elections when it popped into my head. I got thinking about how you could use RGB values to produce a colour that was made up of the relative voting percentages of three parties - one for each primary colour.

Of course, there were no three-party races in Canada in 2008. Outside of Québec, they were four-way, and in Québec they were five-way. I decided to ignore the Green Party, and then be left with the Conservatives, the Liberals and the NDP. It was a no-brainer to call the Conservatives blue and the Liberals red - which left green for the NDP. A far cry from orange, but green is the NDP's secondary colour.

In other words, in a riding that went 50% CPC, 49.9% LPC and 0.1% NDP, the result would be a pretty vivid purple colour: half blue and half red. A riding that went 34%, 33% and 33% would more or less be grey.

I thought it would be a decent way to show the underlying differences that exist between 'a blowout for party A' and 'a narrow win for party A', something that you can't readily observe in areas that are painted as huge swaths of the same colour.

I chose Saskatchewan. I was curious to see how the province, the historical heartland of the NDP, could have elected no NDPs, letting in a Liberal amidst an otherwise uniform blue wave.

Was it really so uniform?

In retrospect, I shouldn't have chosen Saskatchewan for the experiment. Blue-green splits are less dramatic, colourwise, than, say, red-green. But I liked the experiment anyway. Most of these circles are pretty darn blue. Wascana fails to be red at all, since the Conservatives put up a good fight and the NDP were also in the mix - the result is an attractive brown. The NDP's best performance in the province, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, shows up as that colour, 'cyan', that no-one outside of the world of computers has heard of. And the northern riding showed good Liberal numbers and weak NDP numbers, giving it a purple colour.

I find it interesting that Saskatchewan has a strange riding system that kind of smells like Gerrymandering - though I don't accuse Elections Canada of actually intending it. There are no 'urban ridings' at all in Saskatchewan: four huge ridings, spreading across miles and miles of prairies, happen to intersect into a four-corners located squarely in downtown Saskatoon, and another four do the same thing in downtown Regina. These two cities each encompass part of several ridings, but no riding can claim to be 'Regina only' or 'Saskatoon only'. I wonder what urban dwellers in Saskatchewan think of this - certainly the NDP do best in cities, and were the election map drawn differently, the NDP would have taken a few seats in the province.

Anyway... I think aftert the election, I'll do some of these maps for the whole country. In the meantime, I might try a more competitive area. Manitoba, perhaps?