I was thinking, while I drove home today, about how close so many of the ridings seemed, and whether or not voter turn out was correlated to how contested a riding was. Are the uncontested ridings because nobody really showed up, say only the WRP supporters cared enough to vote in a given riding and so they won, but the total number of voters was super low. It seemed that the NDP had a lot of close races, was that just because they were winning a lot more seats, or was life actually harder for them?
These questions can be answered with data. And yes, I do love python so much that I more or less make excuses to fire up an ipython notebook and noodle around.
I want to know how close the ridings were, so I just count the number of votes difference between the winner and the runner up, I also take the time to store who the winner was and the total number of votes in the riding. Below are the first few rows of the election results table.
|LESSER SLAVE LAKE||0||0||0||0||0||0||3908||1950||3196||0||9054||712||NDP|
The closest riding was Calgary-Glenmore which was tied NDP/PC as of the time I wrote this
AFP 0 LIB 1344 AP 718 SC 0 CP-A 0 GPA 0 NDP 7015 PC 7015 WRP 5058 IND 0 total 21150 close 0 win PC Name: CALGARY-GLENMORE, dtype: object
The furthest riding was Rachel Notley, she trounced everyone in her riding
AFP 0 LIB 659 AP 0 SC 0 CP-A 0 GPA 0 NDP 13597 PC 2242 WRP 0 IND 0 total 16498 close 11355 win NDP Name: EDMONTON-STRATHCONA, dtype: object
I have theory that there is a correlation between how many people showed up and how close the riding was. If nobody showed up I expect it was an easy victory, people who would have voted against the winner gave up in a cloud of pessimism and apathy.
My theory is probably wrong, there is no real correlation here. Two things pop out, though:
- The total number of votes cast appears normally distributed , which makes some sense
- The "closeness" of the races is not at all normal. In fact it looks like most races were pretty close.
I can plot a histogram of general closeness and find that about a third of ridings had less than 1000 votes between the winner and the next runner up. On average, the total number of votes cast in a riding was 17066, so a third of ridings had less than a 6% difference between the leader and next runner up.
I am not a politically learned person so I have no idea how that compares to the usual, but it seems like a pretty small difference to me.
My other theory was that the NDP had a harder fight, so ridings where the NDP won should have higher "closeness" than ones where the WRP won. So I expect a histogram for the NDP to peak at a lower value of "closeness" than the WRP.
To answer that I can divide up the data based on who won and plot a violin plot.
A swing and a miss again. It looks like all three major parties fought mostly tight races, with the NDP having a fatter tail than the PCs or WRP. In fact if you were to pick an easily won riding at random, odds are it was won by the NDP.