Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Canadian Election Maps


Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party has won a third term as a result of Monday's election in Canada. The Liberals will probably win 156 seats overall, which is one less than in the 2019 election and some way short of the 170 seats needed to form a majority government. For the second election in a row it looks like the Conservative Party has won the popular vote but won fewer electoral districts than its main rival.

The Globe and Mail's Live Updates page includes an interactive map which colors electoral districts based on the party currently winning in the count. If you click on a riding on the map then you can view the total number of votes cast for each candidate and their percentage of the overall vote.

The Globe and Mail's map is a pretty good example of how a geographical map of Canadian election results can be very visually misleading. On this map large rural electoral districts distort the overall picture. For example despite having won only 25 seats the NDP seem to be the largest party in Canada (because they are the most popular party in many of the largest rural electoral ridings). Conversely the Liberal Party (who have won the most seats but predominantly in the geographically smaller urban electoral districts) on this map appear to have done very poorly. 

This visual distortion of the results is also apparent on the Toronto Star's Live Results interactive map. Like the Globe and Mail map the Star's map is great if you want to check the results in an individual electoral district but isn't so great at representing the overall picture of the 2021 Canadian election. This is also true of the election results map on CBC's Federal Election Results page.

A better way of visualizing the Canadian election results could be by using a cartogram. The Electoral Cartogram of Canada provides a fantastic overall view of election results in Canada (although at the time of writing they haven't yet added this year's election results). This map represents each electoral district as an equal sized hexagon. The advantage of using a cartogram is that this map doesn't visually exaggerate the results of large rural electoral electoral areas with low population densities over smaller urban ridings with much higher population densities.

This cartogram view much more clearly shows the overall picture of an election. For example the Liberal Party's narrow win in 2019 is far more legible on this map than on the Globe and Mail's 2021 electoral map. 


Mark said...

Hi, Keir. Unfortunately, the map you have shown is from 2019, not 2021. An updated cartogram can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Canadian_federal_election#Results or https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Canadian_Federal_Election_Cartogram_2021.svg

Keir Clarke said...

Damn you are right. I think I must have looked at just the last part of the date '2019/10/21' and thought that it was dated 2021 for this year's election.