If everyone who voted in the 2011 election cast their ballots for the same political parties in 2015, the Conservatives would pick up 22 of the 30 seats that are being added in a riding redistribution, Elections Canada calculations show.
Those calculations indicate that, no matter how the parties are doing in the polls, Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be starting the next campaign with an electoral advantage. The Official Opposition NDP would pick up six ridings and the Liberals two.
The House of Commons is growing to 338 seats for the next election, scheduled for Oct. 19, 2015, based on the redistribution of seats that happens every 10 years after a census. Most of those new seats are in rapidly growing urban and suburban areas in British Columbia, Alberta and the Greater Toronto Area.
Only 44 of the 338 ridings are unchanged from 2011. Voters can check their address on this website to see what riding they are in for the next election. The redrawing of ridings was done by independent commissions in each province.
Elections Canada broke down the results of the 2011 election by polling division – the individual neighbourhoods that have their own polling stations – and mapped those results on to the new ridings. In a small number of cases where a polling division would straddle a riding line, the agency broke down the polling division data into individual addresses.
Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, warns that past vote isn’t always a perfect predictor for the future.
Conservatives have been trailing the Liberals in the polls, but as suburban populations boom across Canada – and with those groups more likely to vote for the Conservatives – the party is presented with a favourable map heading into the next election, he said.
“This shows potential. The question is whether the Conservatives can realize their potential,” Mr. Bricker said in an interview.
Election Canada’s transposition of votes shows that, in the 338-seat electoral map, the Conservatives would have won 10 of Ontario’s new ridings, or 83 out of a total of 121. The Liberals would have picked up three of the new seats and the NDP would have picked up two.
The New Democrats would have won two seats in Saskatchewan, one in Regina and one in Saskatoon, while losing by only a hair in a rural riding in the north of the province. Saskatchewan’s new electoral map drew ire from many Tories, as the new districts are separated into urban and rural ridings. The province’s current ridings encompass both urban and rural areas and are typically won by Conservatives. Long-time Liberal MP Ralph Goodale would retain his seat in the new map.
NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen said Friday he felt confident about the party’s chances in the Prairies. “The obvious [opportunities] are in places like Saskatchewan, where they won’t have these pizza-pie, gerrymandered seats.... Into Alberta, we believe there’s some incredibly strong opportunities for us, and certainly into British Columbia."
In Alberta, the Conservatives would have picked up all of the new seats, while the NDP would have held on to their Edmonton seat to prevent a clean sweep of the province by the Tories.
In British Columbia, which gains six seats in the new map, the NDP would lose one of their 12 seats and the Conservatives would pick up seven.
In total, if the 2011 election had happened under the new electoral map, the Conservatives would have 188 seats, compared with 109 for the NDP and 36 for the Liberals. The Bloc Québécois would have kept the four seats they won and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May would have kept hers in B.C.
Conservative spokesman Cory Hann said in a statement that the party will be presenting the “strong, stable leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper” in 2015.
Mr. Cullen said the NDP were already preparing for the next election. “We’re bringing in the best from across Canada and the United States, borrowing from some of [President Barack] Obama’s team,” he said, later adding: “They’ve been with us for a while now and we're picking up and using a lot of their best tactics.”