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Canadian Federal Elections and the Variables Affecting Voter Turnout A Presentation by Shaun Banke

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Question to Be Analyzed Considering Canadian federal elections between 1980 and 2004, how have national economics, socio-economics, weather conditions on vote day, the length of time the governing party has been in power, and the number of parties registered in the election affected voter turnout? Considering Canadian federal elections between 1980 and 2004, how have national economics, socio-economics, weather conditions on vote day, the length of time the governing party has been in power, and the number of parties registered in the election affected voter turnout?

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General Voter Turnout Data To make an accurate analysis of variables, must first have raw voter turnout data To make an accurate analysis of variables, must first have raw voter turnout data Voter turnout: Voter turnout: –Determined by comparing list of registered electors to actual number of votes cast –Precise measure of participation rate in federal elections

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Range: 60.3% (2004) to 75.3% (1984 and 1988) Range: 60.3% (2004) to 75.3% (1984 and 1988) Mean: 68.9% Mean: 68.9% Standard Deviation: 5.2% Standard Deviation: 5.2%

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Turnout on a decline since 1988 Turnout on a decline since 1988 Turnout on a declining curve since 1980 Turnout on a declining curve since 1980 National analysis gives good idea of trend, but provincial is better: National analysis gives good idea of trend, but provincial is better: –National groups entire population of Canada into one sample –Provincial divides population into ten groups, defined by geographic location –This gives ten trends to compare, instead of only one

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All provinces show same trend All provinces show same trend –Only a few exceptions, including Ontario’s 2004 increase and Québec’s 1993 increase This verifies that Canada’s voter turnout is on a declining trend, especially in recent years This verifies that Canada’s voter turnout is on a declining trend, especially in recent years Considering elections shape Canada’s future, it is concerning that such a trend is developing Considering elections shape Canada’s future, it is concerning that such a trend is developing What contributes to this decline? What contributes to this decline?

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Political Variables: Length of Previous Government’s Term Length of term: Length of term: –Time between returning of writs and dissolution of government, in days Writ is written order from each riding sent to Chief Electoral Officer of Canada that states winning candidate in that riding Dissolution of government is the date that the Governor General officially ends parliament and calls for an election Hypothesis: As the length of the previous government’s term increases, so does voter turnout Hypothesis: As the length of the previous government’s term increases, so does voter turnout –If the government stays in power longer, then people may be more anxious to vote –May be ready for a change in government

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Correlation Coefficient: Correlation Coefficient: –Strong positive correlation Coefficient of Determination: Coefficient of Determination: –42.94% variation in y-value caused by x-value

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Hypothesis is proven, as voter turnout increases as length of term increases Hypothesis is proven, as voter turnout increases as length of term increases Possible reasons why: Possible reasons why: –Voters might be eager to re-exercise their right to vote after a long time –Might be prepared to reward a government with a vote or punish by not voting for them after a long term –Elector might feel frustration if the term is short, as their last vote appears to have been pointless –Shorter terms allow less time for controversial issues to come up, and may not allow for issues to arise that affect more voters

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Political Variables: Registered Federal Parties Registered parties: Registered parties: –As an election is called, all federal parties wishing to run must register with Chief Electoral Officer of Canada by specified time –The parties must meet requirements outlined in the Canada Elections Act Example is nominating at least 50 candidates to run –Federal parties that meet the requirements are added to the official register Hypothesis: As the number of registered federal parties increases, so will voter turnout Hypothesis: As the number of registered federal parties increases, so will voter turnout –More parties allow for more choice that might appeal to more voters

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Correlation Coefficient: Correlation Coefficient: –Negligible correlation Coefficient of Determination: Coefficient of Determination: –Only 0.84% of variation in y-value caused by x-value

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Hypothesis is disproven, as voter turnout and the amount of registered parties have no correlation Hypothesis is disproven, as voter turnout and the amount of registered parties have no correlation –Also proven by the nine parties of 1980 and the 14 parties of 1993 having values of 69.3% and 70.9% Possible reasons why: Possible reasons why: –Even with more choice, some people still cannot find their political match –Same lack of affiliation occurs with less parties –Some electors might not care to sift through the vast platforms of many parties –Other electors won’t take the time to look at any platforms, even when there are fewer parties

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Socio-Economic Variables: Unemployment Rate Unemployment rate: Unemployment rate: –Key indicator of economic health –Low rate = ample jobs being created/strong economy –High rate = not enough jobs/weak economy –Mathematically, percentage of the labour force that is unemployed Hypothesis: A high unemployment rate will yield a high voter turnout Hypothesis: A high unemployment rate will yield a high voter turnout –Voters might blame the government for letting the economy falter

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Correlation Coefficient: Correlation Coefficient: –Moderate positive correlation Coefficient of Determination: Coefficient of Determination: –32.53% of variation in y-value caused by x-value

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Hypothesis appears to be proven, as high unemployment rate yields high voter turnout Hypothesis appears to be proven, as high unemployment rate yields high voter turnout However, unemployment rate should not be looked at nationally However, unemployment rate should not be looked at nationally –Unemployment rates vary between provinces, sometimes by large amounts –This can affect voter turnouts individually by province –To get an accurate picture of the unemployment rate’s effect on voter turnout, it must be studied provincially

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Correlation Coefficient: Correlation Coefficient: –Negligible correlation Coefficient of Determination: Coefficient of Determination: –Only 0.92% of variation in y-value caused by x-value

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Hypothesis is disproven, as high unemployment rate does not affect voter turnout Hypothesis is disproven, as high unemployment rate does not affect voter turnout –Nationally it appears to affect voter turnout, but measuring this rate nationally is not accurate Possible reasons why: Possible reasons why: –Electors might not blame the government for high unemployment rates –They may think it is the fault of individual companies for not stimulating the economy –May not think it is a federally-solved issue

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Socio-Economic Variables: Rate of Inflation Rate of inflation: Rate of inflation: –Another key factor in determining the health of the economy –Measured as the percent change of the consumer price index (CPI) over a specified time interval CPI is the fluctuating cost of a set basket of common goods –Defined as the average rate of increase in prices Hypothesis: A high rate of inflation will produce a high voter turnout Hypothesis: A high rate of inflation will produce a high voter turnout –Electors might blame the government for failing to keep prices under control, and avidly vote for the party that proposes the best way to fix the problem

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Correlation Coefficient: Correlation Coefficient: –Weak positive correlation Coefficient of Determination: Coefficient of Determination: –Only 8.28% of variation in y-value caused by x-value

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Hypothesis seems to be disproven, as rate of inflation has little effect on voter turnout Hypothesis seems to be disproven, as rate of inflation has little effect on voter turnout Data is skewed by an outlier Data is skewed by an outlier –1980 has inflation rates approximately two times those of the following years Caused by a rapid climb in prices Effectively dealt with through the implementation of restrictive monetary policy, or high interest rates Prompted the federal government and the Bank of Canada to eventually create a target to keep the inflation rate between 1% and 3%, which they have done since the early 1990’s –Outlier must be removed to better see the recent trend

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Correlation Coefficient: Correlation Coefficient: –Strong positive correlation Coefficient of Determination: Coefficient of Determination: –51.42% of variation in y-value caused by x-value

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The hypothesis seems to be proven, as high rate of inflation yields high voter turnout The hypothesis seems to be proven, as high rate of inflation yields high voter turnout 1980 is definitely an outlier 1980 is definitely an outlier –Correlation coefficient and coefficient of determination both make significant jumps However, rate of inflation should be measured provincially However, rate of inflation should be measured provincially –As with unemployment rates, rates of inflation vary between provinces, often by large amounts

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Correlation Coefficient: Correlation Coefficient: –Weak positive correlation Coefficient of Determination: Coefficient of Determination: –Only 5.25% of variation in y-value caused by x-value

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Hypothesis seems to be disproven, but is once again altered by the 1980 outlier Hypothesis seems to be disproven, but is once again altered by the 1980 outlier –As with national rate of inflation, provincial rates in 1980 are about 2 times those of later years –1980 must be removed on the provincial graph to better see the developing trend

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Correlation Coefficient: Correlation Coefficient: –Moderate positive correlation Coefficient of Determination: Coefficient of Determination: –28.97% of variation in y-value caused by x-value

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The hypothesis is proven, as a high rate of inflation definitely causes high voter turnout The hypothesis is proven, as a high rate of inflation definitely causes high voter turnout 1980 is definitely an outlier 1980 is definitely an outlier –Values change significantly with its removal –Shows the more recent trend Possible reasons why: Possible reasons why: –Electors can blame government for not keeping a steady hold on economy –Will avidly vote to bring in a new government that will better deal with the problem

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Special Case Variables: Age of Elector Age of elector: Age of elector: –Important variable in analyzing voter turnout –Different age groups will have different generalized voter turnouts for various reasons Knowledge of world around them Importance of issues Opinions and views And various others Hypothesis: lower ages will have a lower voter turnout Hypothesis: lower ages will have a lower voter turnout –Less issues directly affect younger electors –Probably have less of an understanding of politics

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High/Low Values: High/Low Values: –Voted: 83.3% (68+)/22.4% (18-20) –Didn’t Vote: 77.6% (18-20)/16.7% (68+)

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The hypothesis is proven, as the lower the age of the elector, the less likely they are to vote The hypothesis is proven, as the lower the age of the elector, the less likely they are to vote Possible reasons why: Possible reasons why: –More issues have direct relevance to older electors: More taxes Social programs Economic issues –Younger electors are likely not as concerned about the importance of voting to Canada’s future

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First pie graph clearly shows how little the age group contributes to elections, and how much the 68+ age group contributes First pie graph clearly shows how little the age group contributes to elections, and how much the 68+ age group contributes Second graph shows how the inverse is true for those who don’t vote Second graph shows how the inverse is true for those who don’t vote From this data, probabilities can be calculated for voting From this data, probabilities can be calculated for voting

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As the age of the elector increases, so does the probability that the elector will vote As the age of the elector increases, so does the probability that the elector will vote –28/125 age electors will vote –97/125 age electors will not vote –833/1000 age 68+ electors will vote –167/1000 age 68+ electors will not vote Significant differences between the age extremes Significant differences between the age extremes

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Special Case Variables: Weather on Election Day In Canada, any change in weather can happen without notice In Canada, any change in weather can happen without notice –Precipitation is one of the most unpredictable –It can occur in any amount at any given time Hypothesis: High precipitation will cause a low voter turnout Hypothesis: High precipitation will cause a low voter turnout –If the precipitation is high, then it is harder to get to polling stations, and some people may think it is not worth the effort

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Correlation Coefficient: Correlation Coefficient: –Nonexistent correlation Coefficient of Determination: Coefficient of Determination: –Only 0.12% of variation in y-value caused by x-value

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The hypothesis is clearly disproven, as precipitation has no effect on voter turnout The hypothesis is clearly disproven, as precipitation has no effect on voter turnout –People who take the time to go out and vote will still do so, even in rain or snow –People who do not vote will still not vote if it a nice day outside

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Recap of the Conclusions Since 1980, there has been a declining trend in voter turnout on both national and provincial levels Since 1980, there has been a declining trend in voter turnout on both national and provincial levels There is a moderate positive correlation between the length of the previous government’s term and national voter turnout There is a moderate positive correlation between the length of the previous government’s term and national voter turnout There is no correlation between the number of federal parties registered in an election and national voter turnout There is no correlation between the number of federal parties registered in an election and national voter turnout There is no correlation between unemployment rate and voter turnout There is no correlation between unemployment rate and voter turnout There is a moderate positive correlation between rate of inflation and voter turnout There is a moderate positive correlation between rate of inflation and voter turnout As the age of elector increases, the probability that the elector will vote increases As the age of elector increases, the probability that the elector will vote increases There is no correlation between the amount of precipitation on the day of election and voter turnout There is no correlation between the amount of precipitation on the day of election and voter turnout

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Expectations for the January Election Using the drawn conclusions, probable voter turnout values can be hypothesized Using the drawn conclusions, probable voter turnout values can be hypothesized –Microsoft Excel provides a mathematical equation for each line or curve of best fit –By plugging in the required x-values, the y-values, or the voter turnout percentages, can be calculated Three lines and curves of best fit can be used Three lines and curves of best fit can be used –General voter turnout curve –Length of term line –Rate of inflation line Others cannot be used for various reasons Others cannot be used for various reasons

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Equation: Equation: –y = x^ x x-value: x-value: –Number assigned election year being analyzed, where 1980 = 1 –2006 is eighth –x = 8 Calculation: Calculation: –y = Equation: Equation: –y = x x-value: x-value: –Length of the government’s term in days –Government lasted 498 days –x = 498 Calculation: Calculation: –y = Equation: Equation: –y = x x-value: x-value: –Inflation rate as a percentage –Latest yearly inflation estimate is 2.2% –x = 2.2 Calculation: Calculation: –y = 66.22

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The expected values for the election are: The expected values for the election are: –51.72% by voter turnout trend –52.88% by length of term –66.22% by rate of inflation To obtain a possible value, the percentages are averaged To obtain a possible value, the percentages are averaged This yields 56.94%, which, when looking at the correlations, is reasonable This yields 56.94%, which, when looking at the correlations, is reasonable However, 2006’s voter turnout was 64.9%, which is the first increase in 22 years However, 2006’s voter turnout was 64.9%, which is the first increase in 22 years How can this be? How can this be?

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Many possible reasons why: Many possible reasons why: –During last election, government accountability a hot issue –Parties rallied support, promising to clean up system –This variable cannot be easily measured statistically Although quantitative statistics provide for effective mathematical correlations, the strength of the effect of important issues at the time of election cannot be denied as one of the primary influences on voter turnout. Although quantitative statistics provide for effective mathematical correlations, the strength of the effect of important issues at the time of election cannot be denied as one of the primary influences on voter turnout. However, an equation can be used to model the 2006 election, which I call “The Martin Law” However, an equation can be used to model the 2006 election, which I call “The Martin Law”

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Paul Martin winning Liberal leadership + Martin calling D-Day “The invasion of Norway” × ‘Where did all the money go?’ – Gomery’s inquiry ÷ ‘Harper ruined Christmas’ as a Liberal election slogan = More Canadians turning out to vote for Stephen Harper

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Thank You

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