Estimating Voter Migration in Canada
Using Generalized Maximum Entropy
WERNER ANTWEILER
University of British Columbia
 
 
   
Non-Technical Summary
 
Do the non-voters decide elections? Voters don't so much swing as bounce on a long elastic tether. They may abstain from voting when they're unhappy, but they don't necessarily switch parties. Studying patterns of voter migration in the three most recent federal elections in Canada and the three most recent provincial elections in B.C. provides significant evidence that voters maintain long-term political preferences, a kind of "tethered partisanship", and are less prone to float and drift between political preferences than often thought. Political strategists haven't yet taken this lesson to heart, as much political campaigning is still directed at the elusive "swing voter", and much less at getting the "affinity voter" sufficiently motivated and into the voting booth.
 
Research Paper
 
Electoral Studies 26(4), December 2007, pages 756-771. (also access the journal via ScienceDirect or Ingenta if you or your university are subscribed; direct link to full text of article via ScienceDirect)
 
• The first version of the paper is available as SSRN Research Paper 930232, August 13, 2006.
 
News Coverage
 
Re-engaging non-voters key to election victory: UBC Study by Lorraine Chan, appeared in UBC Reports 54(10), 2 October 2008
 
Charts and Figures
 
Voter Migration Estimates
British Columbia Provincial Elections 1996-2001
B.C. Liberal Party New Democratic Party B.C. Green Party
click on each chart to retrieve the full scale PDF file

Voter Migration Estimates
British Columbia Provincial Elections 2001-2005
B.C. Liberal Party New Democratic Party B.C. Green Party
click on each chart to retrieve the full scale PDF file

Voter Migration Estimates
Canadian Federal Elections 2000-2004
Liberal Party New Democratic Party Bloc Quebecois
Progressive Conservatives Canadian Alliance Conservative Party
click on each chart to retrieve the full scale PDF file

Voter Migration Estimates
Canadian Federal Elections 2004-2006
Liberal Party New Democratic Party Bloc Quebecois Conservative Party
click on each chart to retrieve the full scale PDF file


 
Data Sources
 
Election CSV Data FileAdj.
Canadian Federal Election 2000 download301::308
Canadian Federal Election 2004 download308
Canadian Federal Election 2006 download308
British Columbia Provincial Election 1996 download75::79
British Columbia Provincial Election 2001 download79
British Columbia Provincial Election 2005 download79

The column "Adj." indicates the number of constituencies used in the table. Where two numbers are provided, separated by a ::, the original number of electoral districts of this election was transposed to match the number of electoral districts in the subsequent election.
 
Useful Links
 
• The GME estimator is implemented through PROC ENTROPY in the SAS Language; also see pp. 731-782 in the SAS/ETS 9.1 User's Guide for further information on methodology.
 
• Maximum Entropy estimators are discussed extensively in the book Maximum Entropy Econometrics: Robust Estimation with Limited Data by Amos Golan, George G. Judge, and Douglas Miller, Wiley: 1996.
 
Elections Canada, Information on Past Elections
 
Elections B.C., Provincial Election Results
 
 
 
 
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