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How Canada Votes, Street by Street

Election signs in Calgary, 2006

Canada is in the midst of yet another federal election, one that will, if the current trends hold steady, result in a third minority government for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. It’s a pretty dismal state of affairs. But even the most delicious truffle looks like a turd, so things might still turn out well, especially if Canadians finally wake up and grow tired of having a petty tyrant as prime minister.

In the meantime, my friend Cedric Sam has created a pretty good way to kill time: Google Maps of 2008 federal election results based on data from each and every polling station in the country. Since each polling station serves no more than a few hundred voters, the level of detail is extraordinarily precise, especially in dense urban areas. You can check it out at the website of the Montreal newspaper La Presse, which has published the maps in English.

Sometimes the maps can be surprising. Who knew that the well-heeled streets of Outremont held so many NDP supporters, while the immigrant-dominated, working-class north end of Côte des Neiges was so heavily Liberal? Other times, it looks exactly the way you would expect: in Edmonton Strathcona, the densely-populated streets around Whyte Avenue and the University of Alberta voted NDP, while more suburban areas to the south and east voted Conservative. (The NDP won in both Outremont and Edmonton Strathcona.)

2008 results in Outremont, Montreal

2008 results in Edmonton Strathcona

Most interesting are the swing ridings that will determine the fate of the current election. Many of these ridings are ethnically-diverse, immigrant-heavy areas in Vancouver and Toronto, like Vancouver Kingsway, which the CBC’s national newscast profiled last week. Currently held by the NDP, Cedric’s maps shows it to be a veritable patchwork of support for all three major parties. While Fraser Street is an NDP stronghold, Renfrew Heights went solidly Conservative and Cambie Street leans Liberal, the rest of the riding could easily change its allegiance.

2008 results in Vancouver Kingsway

What would make these maps even more interesting is if they could be overlayed with census data on age, income, immigration status, ethnic origin and language. La Presse didn’t give Cedric a budget for this project — he essentially recycled data he had already compiled — but apparently the people at Elections Canada are very interested in the maps. Maybe we’ll see more of this kind of thing after Canadians vote on May 2nd.

(From UrbanPhoto. Follow DeWolf on Twitter.)

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