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2014 Ontario General Election Analysis for Waterloo Region

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 5th March 2018

There’s another Ontario General Election on the horizon (7 June 2018), so this is a good time to see how things went last time around.

The voting system that Ontario uses is First-Past-The Post, or technically, Single Member Plurality. That means that the candidate who gets more votes than the runner-up gets the single seat for the whole riding. No need for a majority. With five candidates in a riding the “winner” could have as little as 20% of the vote, and so up to 80% of the votes cast wouldn’t serve to elect anyone, and are wasted. It makes no difference if those voters had stayed home; the result would have been the same. In Waterloo Region things weren’t quite as bad as that, but not far off. Overall, 61.2% of votes cast in Waterloo Region were wasted.

No candidate won a riding with a majority. The closest was Diaene Vernile in Kitchener Centre, who received 43.1% of the votes cast in that riding. Kathryn McGarry won the seat in Cambridge with only 38.9%, comparable to Ontario, where the Liberals received 38.6% of the vote, but received 54.6% of the seats (58 out of 107 seats). This is yet another false majority, directly attributable to the single-member seat allocation. The worst showing was in Kitchener–Conestoga, where Michael Harris retained his seat with only 36.4% of the votes. That means 63.6% of the voters voted against Mr. Harris! Even worse, only 17083 of 94886 eligible voters voted for Mr. Harris. He won with the approval of only 18% of the electorate!

With only five parties and four ridings in Waterloo Region it is difficult to assess the how proportional the seat count is compared to the vote count. The Liberals are over-represented with two seats, 50%, with only 36% of the vote. The Progressive Conservatives are under-represented with one seat, 25%, and 30% of the vote. The NDP is properly represented with one seat, 25%, and 26% of the vote. The Greens and Libertarians together received 7.3% of the votes cast, and would not have gained a seat in the Region even with a proportional voting system.

It would not take a large shift in voter preference to significantly change the outcome. Note how small the plurality for each of the winners is, only a few thousand votes. Kitchener–Conestoga is especially fragile, where Michael Harris won by only 1419 votes. Even a small increase in voter turnout would add more votes than that. An increase from 49.5% to 51.0% would add 1423 votes, more than enough to topple the Progressive Conservative seat in favour of the Liberals.

Region-wide, voter turnout was abysmal at 50.9% of eligible voters casting a ballot. No wonder 49.1% of the voters stayed home, when there is such a high number of wasted votes. It is said that a system with proportional representation will improve voter turnout, because almost all votes cast contribute towards some representation in the legislature. I sure hope to see that for the next election!

Here are the results for the four electoral districts in Waterloo Region:

  Cambridge Kitchener Centre Kitchener–Conestoga Kitchener–Waterloo Totals  
Liberal * Kathryn McGarry * * Diaene Vernile * Wayne Wright Jamie Burton   50.0% seats Liberal
18763 38.9% 18472 43.1% 15664 33.3% 16534 30.1% 69433 36.0% votes
Progressive-Conservative Rob Leone (Incumbent) Wayne Wettlaufer * Michael Harris * (Incumbent) Tracey Weiler   25.0% seats Progressive- Conservative
15694 32.6% 11550 27.0% 17083 36.4% 14450 26.3% 58777 30.5% votes
NDP Bobbi Stewart Margaret Johnston James Villeneuve * Catherine Fife * (Incumbent)   25.0% seats NDP
10413 21.6% 9765 22.8% 9958 21.2% 20536 37.4% 50672 26.3% votes
Green Temara Brown Ronnie Smith David Weber Stacey Danckert   0.0% seats Green
2726 5.7% 2472 5.8% 3277 7.0% 2859 5.2% 11334 5.9% votes
Libertarian Allan R. Detweiler Patrick Bernier David Schumm James Schulz   0.0% seats Libertarian
605 1.3% 557 1.3% 1001 2.1% 481 0.9% 2644 1.4% votes
 
Votes Cast | Turnout 48201 48.1% 42816 51.5% 46983 49.5% 54860 54.3% 192860 50.9% Votes Cast | Turnout
Eligible Voters 100130   83170   94886   100972   379158   Eligible Voters
Approval (Winning votes / Eligble Voters)   18.7%   22.2%   18.0%   20.3%   19.7% Approval (Winning votes / Eligble Voters)
Plurality | % votes cast 3069 6.4% 6922 16.2% 1419 3.0% 4002 7.3% 15412 8.0% Plurality | % votes cast
Wasted Votes 29438 61.1% 24344 56.9% 29900 63.6% 34324 62.6% 118006 61.2% Wasted Votes

And that’s how it was in 2014. I hope to have an analysis of the 2018 Ontario General Election once the excitement has worn off a little…

–Bob Jonkman is the Co-Chair for the Fair Vote Canada Waterloo Region Chapter.

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