Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One Last Look at STV

There were a lot of theories floated to explain STV's crushing defeat two weeks ago in BC. Given there is no shortage of PhD students in the ranks of PR advocates, I'm sure we'll be treated to several papers on this topic in the coming months.

In the meantime, I plugged the results from ElectionsBC into a spreadsheet and came up with the following findings.

1. The margin of victory in a riding had little impact on support for STV. One of the main reasons I decided to do this little exercise was to test the hypothesis that voters in ridings that are routinely blow outs would be more eager for electoral reform, to make their vote "count". But that was not the case, with a non-existant -0.003 correlation between the general election margin of victory and support for STV in each riding.

2. Regionally, the big cities were more open to STV. This isn't too surprising, as one of the biggest concerns about STV was always the massive ridings that would be created in some rural areas. Here are the region-by-region support levels for STV:

Greater Victoria 50.2%
Vancouver 46.5%
Vancouver Island 42.0%
North Shore and Sunshine Coast 40.9%
Kootenays 39.9%
Okanagan, Shuswap, Boundary 37.8%
Vancouver Eastern Suburbs 37.4%
Northern BC 35.1%
Richmond and Delta 33.3%
Thompson and Cariboo 31.3%
Surrey 31.3%
Fraser Valley 30.7%

3. Voting behaviours are closely linked to STV support. There is a strong correlation between support for the Green Party in a riding and that riding's overall support for STV (r = 0.602). To a lesser extent, ridings voting NDP tend to be more STV-friendly (r = 0.314), while ridings voting Liberal prefer FPTP (r = -0.472).

Now, this isn't to say that Liberals necessarily voted against STV and Dippers voted for it - just that Liberal ridings tended to be against the change (think of the situation in the US where states with large african american populations often vote Republican). Still, it wouldn't at all surprise me if it was NDP and Green supporters pushing STV, with provincial Liberals more cautious.
And, for those of you asking, even after region is controlled for, vote intent is still a significant predictor of STV support. In the model I set up, regional and vote factors had a similar amount of influence.

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  • Now that's interesting.

    Did you ever try this with the Ontario 2007 results?

    By Blogger bigcitylib, at 9:24 a.m.  

  • What would be interesting is to look at the results of the election if it were run under STV and who would be in and who would be out. Then again, I guess that can't be done because there are no surplus votes to count.

    By Blogger Raphael Alexander, at 9:26 a.m.  

  • BigCityLib - I would do it with Ontario, if only Elections Ontario had data tables as easy to copy over as ElectionsBC does...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:31 a.m.  

  • I think you may have hit on the answer in your last post. I think including the status-quo as an option on the ballot essentially gave FPTP the incumbent effect you see in municipal elections.

    In "Nudge" they call it the status quo bias. We gave people the option of making no decision. Of course they were going to take it.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 9:58 a.m.  

  • My guess - thinking of Ontario (where support was highest in urban left type districts) is that support for PR is more a reflection of moral/ideological beliefs than partisan interest. Certainly you didn't have a lot of Tory support for electoral reform in the 90's, when it was tactically in the interest of the right (the PC's + Reform tended to win almost as many votes as the Liberals).

    In Canada being a right winger is practically synonymous with being a supporter of decentralized government, something PR tends to run against. Solutions like citizen-initiated referenda, and grassroots-oriented political reforms were a more natural form of electoral reform for the right.

    Referenda would allow for issue-specific coalitions (eg. feminists and social conservatives might have common ground on pornography), and give the right more influence than they had in Ottawa (namely, none). A referendum also gets around the wasted vote problem without ceding away local legislative control. Moreover, in the Canadian context, referenda tend to be viewed from a perspective of provincial interests, which favours the right (Reform was western protest party, while the PC's were a maritime protest party).

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 10:00 a.m.  

  • It would be nice to see more post-mortem polls and analysis out there. You get the occasional one in academic papers, but we always get thousands of polls before the election, and then nothing afterwards to explain why people vote the way they did.

    By Anonymous Deb, at 10:50 a.m.  

  • we always get thousands of polls before the election, and then nothing afterwards to explain why people vote the way they did.That's because nobody is willing to pay for the latter. And since north-america's journalism has been dead for decades don't expect that to change anytime soon.

    BTW: I think it would still be interesting to see what these current results would have been if the results were shown in STV-sized ridings, with MPs being elected proportionally. That's not STV (no transfer, still many of the downsides of FPTP especially strategic voting), but it would still be interesting, at least from an educational level.

    Who will take on the task?

    By Blogger Erik, at 11:06 a.m.  

  • STV would only interest the people who lose and can not garner enough support for their party to actually win the current way.Greens have no hope in actually electing someone thus they need the system changed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:13 p.m.  

  • I think that the most interesting aspect of the recent vote is that, although the STV option didn't win, there is still a significant percentage(yes, a minority, but a large minority) of people who want to see the system changed.

    Now, does anyone really expect our political "leaders" to actually address the issues underlying support for changing the system?

    I'm not holding my breath.

    By Blogger Party of One, at 4:48 p.m.  

  • In BC, voters are looking for an alternative.

    "Huntington defeats Oppal by 32 votes in Delta South recount
    By Doug Ward,
    Vancouver Sun May 26, 2009

    Vicki Huntington, independent candidate for Delta South was declared winner over Wally Oppal in a recount Tuesday, May 26. Independent candidate Vicky Huntington was declared the winner in Delta South today, defeating B.C. Liberal attorney-general Wally Oppal by 32 votes.

    Huntington, a long-time councillor, received 9,977 votes to Oppal's 9,945.

    Elections B.C. official Kenn Faris said the vote will automatically go to a judical recount because it is under a 50-vote margin.

    "So it's in the hands of the B.C. Supreme Court now or will be after the application is made."

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:52 p.m.  

  • Goodness, there is a great deal of effective data in this post!

    By Anonymous muebles en torrejon de ardoz, at 12:42 p.m.  

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