Socio-demographic factors and civic voting behaviour: the case of Vancouver

Author/s:  Michelle Vernooy

Creation date: 2009

Contact info: n/a

Senior supervisor: Patrick Smith

Keywords: elections, voters, Vancouver policies, municipal elections, socio-demographic variables, voting behaviour

Geographic focus: Vancouver, BC; British Columbia; Canada

Research question/s: Why, in the 2008 elections, did some voting divisions in Vancouver vote for a Vision Vancouver mayor more than other voting divisions?

Significance

The author investigated the relationship between support for Vision Vancouver, a centre-left party, in the 2008 Vancouver civic election and eight socio-demographic factors, including housing tenure. Although socio-demographic factors are not the only ones that affect voting behaviour, previous research has indicated that they do influence political attitudes. Within Canada, Vancouver is one of only a few cities that has political parties at the civic level. The presence of parties and the ability to categorize them as left-of-centre or right-of-centre allows for links with other research on elections for municipal or higher levels of government. While related studies on election behaviour have taken place at the federal and provincial levels, so far little municipally focused research has taken place, making this study a valuable contribution to the literature on local government elections, particularly in Vancouver.

Findings

After applying the technique of regression analysis to data from Statistics Canada and the 2008 civic election at the voting division level, the author found statistically significant differences in support for Vision Vancouver for every one percent increase in the following socio-demographic factors: Rented dwellings, voter participation and youth (ages 20 to 29) increased support for Vision Vancouver, with rented dwellings have the strongest positive impact. Conversely, support for Vision Vancouver decreased with voting division increases in university education, immigrants from China and people aged 55 or older, with university education having the strongest negative effect. Thematic maps present the voting behavior (voting for Vision) and socio-demographic data that has been found to be statistically significant through regression analysis.