Northern Economist 2.0

Showing posts with label results. Show all posts
Showing posts with label results. Show all posts

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Municipal Election Analysis 2018: Thunder Bay Mayoral Race


The results are in and former provincial Liberal Cabinet Minister Bill Mauro will be the next Mayor of Thunder Bay.  Congratulations to Mayor Mauro as well as all the hard-working candidates who chose to run for office.  Thanks also to outgoing council members who have seen years of public service.  Public service is never easy and putting your name forth as a candidate and serving as an elected official is an important act of participation in our democracy.

The new Mayor-Designate took 34 percent of the 41,108 votes cast for mayor edging out soon to be former City Councillor Frank Pullia who took 32 percent of the vote.  The choice of mayor was in many respects part of a general desire for change at the municipal level given that both of the higher profile council incumbent candidates for mayor went down to defeat.  Indeed, the new council represents a significant but not overwhelming amount of change with a number of new faces as well as new but familiar faces – as in the example of the new mayor.

Yet, the aspect of this race I found the most interesting was the collapse of the protest vote which saw Shane Judge garner only 5,155 votes (13 percent of the total) compared to his 2014 total of 9,531 which was a 26 percent share of the total.  Even more interesting was the collapse of support for Iain Angus who as a Councillor at Large in 2014 won with 15,861 votes and who as a candidate for mayor in 2018 was only able to manage about a third of that at 5,816. 

One wonders if this signals a general rightward shift in the Thunder Bay electorate given at least my perception of the generally left of center positions of Iain Angus.  Indeed, this may reflect a weakening of the labour vote in general given that Angus was endorsed by the Thunder Bay District Labour Council for Mayor and none of the five at large candidates endorsed by the Labour council won either.   Only three of the Labour Council ward endorsements won (Foulds, Ch’ng and Oliver). Or it may reflect a shift in voter priorities towards lower property taxes given that taxation was continually brought up as an issue during this campaign.The new mayor and several of the winning candidates have emphasized that taxation rates were an issue.

Figure 1 presents the ranked votes by mayoral candidates and most starkly illustrates how despite there being four high profile candidates, it was essentially a two-person race.  Indeed, one wonders what results would have been like if the provincial liberals had won the spring election and Bill Mauro had not entered the municipal race.  It is possible that in the absence of Bill Mauro’s entry, Frank Pullia might very well be the mayor today.  
 

Much is being made of the success of the new online/telephone voting system so a breakdown by type of ballot is interesting.  While voter participation is up above 50 percent this election and voter totals are up I would not venture to say that more convenient online voting options have resulted in a dramatic surge in participation.  Those who want to vote will vote no matter what the system is and the chief advantage of the new system is that it is more convenient for many people. While 41,108 ballots were cast for mayor this election, last time it was 37,123.  The result was an additional 3985 ballots cast – an increase of 13.4 percent.  This is actually a respectable increase but whether it was due to an appetite for change or the convenience of online voting will take a few more elections to see if the increase is sustained.

Of the 41,108 ballots cast for mayor, 15,249 - 37 percent- were paper ballots while 25,775 – 63 percent – were online/telephone ballots.  The preference does appear to be for the convenience of online/phone voting.  Figure 2 shows the distributions of the paper mayoral ballots. 
 

Figure 3 shows the distribution of the online/telephone ballots and Figure 4 the total distribution.  The results for the paper and the online/telephone ballots generally parallel each other but a closer examination shows that among the paper ballots, Frank Pullia had 33 percent of the vote and Bill Mauro 32 percent while in the online/telephone results it was 35 percent for Bill Mauro and 31 percent for Frank Pullia.  Overall, Bill Mauro became Mayor with 34 percent of the total vote and Frank Pullia was second with about 32 percent.

 


 

This is quite an interesting result because it raises the question as to whether the outcome might have been different if only paper ballots (which incidentally are also tabulated electronically) had been used.  It does appear that Frank Pullia had an edge with more traditional medium voters while Bill Mauro’s edge was with online voters.  This is also interesting given that the Pullia campaign was very social media intensive meaning it was fully engaged with the new technology.

This is also an interesting result because given the overall turnout – about 51 percent – and the number of candidates splitting the votes resulting in the winner only holding 34 percent of the total vote.  It means the mayor in the end was elected by about 17 percent of eligible voters.  This is not Bill Mauro’s fault by any stretch of the imagination.  People who are unhappy with small pools of voters rather than a majority deciding their leaders should make sure they get out and vote. On the other hand, perhaps recognition of this low effective support is why the incoming mayor seems relatively low key and unambitious given that his goal is to focus on one or two soft infrastructure projects - like an indoor tennis facility - rather than roads and bridges. I suspect many voters will be surprised to find out a tennis facility is going to be one of the new mayor's priorities.

In any event, these results should provide food for thought for many analyses to come. Next time, I will take a look at the At-Large results.

Friday, 8 June 2018

Ontario: The Road Ahead


Ontario has elected a new majority government and Doug Ford is Premier Designate of Ontario.  In the end, Ontario voters have voted out the Liberals and opted for a major change in government.  Congratulations to Mr. Ford and his team on their election victory and a thank you to all candidates in this election who chose to run and campaign.  Political life is a challenge and one cannot say enough about how important it is to have people willing to run for office and serve the public interest.  In the end, any democracy is only as effective as the people who are willing to participate whether as candidates or voters.

It is the day after and as of this morning the PCs hold 76 seats with 40.6 percent of the popular vote. Their share of the popular vote was in the end higher than the polls predicted.  The NDP hold 40 seats with 33.7 percent of the popular vote and the Liberals are down to 7 seats with 19.3 percent of the popular vote.  The Liberal collapse has reduced them to virtual islands of support - three seats in the GTA, three in Ottawa and 1 in northern Ontario.  The Green Party has also managed a positive showing electing 1 – their leader – in Guelph with 4.6 percent of the vote.  It is a majority government and for those concerned about uncertainty, a minority government would have created more uncertainty than a majority government.  Any concerns about uncertainty with respect to policy direction are now entirely in the hands of the new elected government.

With respect to northern Ontario, the region has diverse representation that includes members of the governing party as well as opposition voices to air issues and concerns.  The elected PC members are also spread across the north and include Greg Rickford (Kenora-Rainy River), Vic Fedeli (Nipissing), Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka) and Ross Romano (Sault Ste. Marie).  As mentioned in an earlier post, these are good and effective members of the incoming team with proven talent and the north will be well served by them.  Indeed, there is also cabinet material among them. Vic Fedeli is in my opinion a leading candidate for the finance portfolio while Norm Miller and Gred Rickford would make good ministers in portfolios such as northern development, natural resources and transportation.

In terms of the road ahead, the next few weeks will provide some indication of what the actual direction of the new government will be.  While many have criticized the lack of specifics of the PC campaign, it should also be noted that as a campaign strategy, presenting fewer targets for criticism can also be effective.  However, the campaign is over, and after the new government and cabinet is sworn in one can expect quick movement on a few high-profile platform items such as immediate lowering of the gasoline tax in order to demonstrate action on promises made.  However, longer term action will require more methodical work not least of which will be a budget and direction on the province's finances. 

With respect to the province's finances, as a start, I would suggest an expenditure growth target of 2+1 (2% inflation and 1% population growth) which would allow provincial expenditures to grow slower than historical revenue growth rates thus bringing the budget into balance sooner rather than later.  I would also urge  the establishment of a new independent capital expenditure review process to help better assess the approval of the capital projects which have been adding to the provincial debt.  I of course as always have a few other ideas and they are available here in more detailed format. I am also looking forward to how things are going to shape up also when it comes to initiatives for northern economic development.

So, there you have it.  The election is over and there will now be a few days in which to reflect on what has happened and why, but ultimately there is a province to run and a northern Ontario economy to build.  We have been sent a new government and despite the slings and arrows and acrimony of any election campaign, hope is always greatest at the outset of any new government’s mandate.  While there are concerns about the new government being a “wild ride”, one should always remember that as important as a party leader is, under our system of government the premier is in the end simply first among equals. 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Northern Economist on the Census!

Well, the release of the 20111 Census results yesterday spawned alot of media activity for me yesterday ranging from the Huffington Post to Thunder Bay Television News to editorial mention in the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal.  Thunder Bay Television has posted part of the interview they conducted with me on Youtube which you can access here.