Deep Dive into the Vancouver Election Results

I did a quick analysis of the Vancouver election results last night, but this morning I did a deeper dive into the data (Skyrim can wait).

I went through the 135 polling districts and tried to find interesting patterns and changes from 2008 to 2011. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Mayor Gregor Robertson’s best polls were in Commercial Drive, Mount Pleasant, and Fairview Slops – where he beat Anton by over 500 votes in 13 polls. In poll 33 (heart of Commercial Drive), he topped Anton by a whopping 822 votes!
  • Suzanne Anton’s best polls were in Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale, and south-east Vancouver, but the most she was able to beat Gregor by was 386 votes in poll 89.
  • Vision’s new super-star candidate is Andrea Reimer. Last election she had the most votes in only one poll. This time, she overcame the donkey vote to finish first in 28 polls (tied with Raymond Louie).
  • The West-End put Adriane Carr on Council. She had the most votes in 5 polls (1, 2, 5, 6, 8).
  • Despite being one of least popular Vision councillors (at least in terms of votes), Geoff Meggs had the most votes in poll 35 (Olympic Village). Geoff Meggs has taken a keen interest on the Olympic Village, blogging about it frequently, which apparently residents appreciate.
  • What’s going on in West Point Grey (polls 129 and 130)? Last election they voted strongly NPA. This time they voted for Robertson and the top city council candidates were Geoff Meggs (who was barely a factor here in 2008) and maverick NPA candidate Bill McCreery, and Adriane Carr had some of her best results outside of the West End.
  • The biggest swings to Robertson were in polls 37, 132, 104, 32, and 130 – Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, and Point Grey – where he picked up an extra 202-342 votes.
  • Robertson lost the most support in polls 88, 83, 59, 61, 82, and 89 – heavily Chinese neighbourhoods in south-east and east Vancouver – where Anton gained 223-291 votes.

Shifts in Support
Looking at neighbourhoods that Vision increased and lost support in, I think there were two large shifts in play. One, the Chinese community continued to support Chinese council candidates (from both parties), but backed Suzanne Anton for mayor. Last election more of them voted for Gregor Robertson than Peter Ladner.

Vision’s Greenest City initiative convinced environmentalists, including those living in on the wealthy west-side of Vancouver, to vote in huge numbers for Gregor and Adriane Carr. The west-side polls where Gregor improved the most were some of the best for Adriane Carr.

Adrianne Carr
Many pundits are wondering whether it was Carr’s anti-development position or her her green credentials that pushed her into 10th place. The data indicates it is likely a combination of the two. She certainly did well in the West End – the 5 polls she won were some of the best for anti-development Neighbourhoods for Sustainable for Vancouver (NSV) candidates, but they were also solid Vision Vancouver polls. Carr got the most votes, but Vision candidates Deal, Reimer, and Stevenson were close behind, and Mayor Robertson handily beat Anton in every West End riding. Carr likely was able to appeal to environmentally conscious Vision Vancouver voters and anti-development NSV voters.

Chinese Votes
There seems to be 2 strong types of voters in Vancouver. Ones that vote for a party and ones that vote for a last name. In most of the areas that Gregor Robertson did well the Vision candidates also did well. Same goes for the NPA and Suzanne Anton. But in large parts of south Vancouver (polls 81, 82, and 98) and east Vancouver (polls 60, 61, and 64), Chinese candidates like Louie, Jang, Tang, Wong, and Yuen were popular and out-polled their fellow candidates by 30-50%.

Many people are blaming COPE’s blowout yesterday on its coalition with Vision, however I think it might have more to do with dumping David Cadman. In 2008, Cadman was their strongest candidate, top vote-getter, de facto spokesperson, and a man with an awesome beard. This election, COPE members decided to replace him with Tim Louis.

Last election, David Cadman received 56,665 votes, enough for the 7th council seat. Ellen Woodsworth got 45,877 votes to squeak into the 10th seat. This year, Ellen Woodswoth received 48,557 (an increase of over 2,000), but she just missed the last seat, finishing in 11th. If David Cadman had run again and won the same votes as 2008, he would have finished in 6th place. In fact, he could have dropped by 8000 votes and still won.

How would COPE have done with Cadman on the ballot? Impossible to say, but if he won his seat and maybe pulled a parks commissioner or school trustee along with him than no one would be talking about COPE’s blowout.

Donkey Voting
It’s really difficult to quantify, because there are so many other factors in play, but there is definitely a trend for candidates listed higher on the ballot (with names that come sooner alphabetically) to get more votes than their peers – known as a donkey vote. I hope next election the order of the candidates can be randomized to help prevent this phenomenon.

Capital Spending Questions
In addition to voting for mayor, city councillors, parks board, and school trustees, the ballot also had 3 questions about capital spending. Normally these questions pass by wide margins, and did so again this year, but not with some discontent.

In 2008, every question got more than 50% support in every poll, except on (Q3 – Parks & Rec got 49.75% in poll 89).

This year, Q1 (Public Works) failed to get 50% in 9 polls – the lowest at 45%.
Q2 (Safety and Civic Facilities) failed to get 50% in 1 poll.
Q3 (Parks and Rec) failed to get 50% in 7 polls .

The 9 polls were 60, 61, 69, 70, 81, 82, 83, 89, 97, and 98 – all polls that Suzanne Anton won. The first 7 polls had significant Chinese voting blocks (top vote getters in these polls were Yuen, Wong, Louie, Jang, and Tang), the last 3 were solid NPA seats. Obviously there were some voters concerned about the amount of money being spent by city hall.


  1. Agreed this is a really good analysis. History shows everytime the center party and the left party run full slates of council candidates, the NPA takes all or nearly all of the seats. Don’t devide the progressive vote!


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