Hamilton matches national surge in voter turnout

A whole lot more electors cast their ballots this election nationally and in the city, and it seems many of those new votes were Liberal.

Canadians look for 'comfort' before voting in droves, says political science professor

Hamilton's voter turnout increased significantly this election, as did ballots cast for the liberals. (Michelle-Andrea Girouard/CBC)

A whole lot more electors cast their ballots this election across the country and in Hamilton, and it seems many of those new voters were Liberal.

Turnout in Hamilton for this year's federal election was 66.9 per cent among the five major ridings.

And while that's about one per cent under the Canadian average for this election, it's still up almost six points from Hamilton's previous turnout, according to Elections Canada.

Among the highest jumps in turnout between this election and last was the Hamilton Centre riding, which increased by about seven per cent from the 2011 vote. The riding re-elected NDP MP David Christopherson, but the race was significantly closer this year.

Christopherson won with 57 per cent of the vote and over 12,000 votes in 2011. Liberal representative Anne Tennier finished a distant third that year. But this election, she surged. Christopherson won with 46 per cent of the vote, with Tennier receiving 33 per cent of the ballot.

That same red wave was evident in all five ridings, regardless of who won: 

Riding2011 Turnout2015 TurnoutTurnout Increase %Liberal Vote Increase
Hamilton Centre53.63%60.29%6.66%204%
Hamilton East-Stoney Creek57.06%62.88%5.82%133%
Hamilton Mountain61.05%65.61%4.56%93%
Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas68.52%* (Formerly Ancaster-Flaborough-Westbrook)75.06%6.54%*102%*

*Ridings changed boundaries between 2011 and 2015 elections

Voter turnout numbers correspond with the Liberal's vote increase between this election and last — the more a turnout increased for a riding, the more Liberal votes were cast.

Queen's University's Tim Abray teaches a course on the Canadian Voter and commented on the phenomena during CBC Hamilton's post-election live chat. He believes the increased turnout, and particularly the votes cast for the Liberals, was about certainty.

"Voters dislike voting from a place of discomfort," he wrote. "The increased turnout speaks, I think, to a higher degree of comfort with the Liberal leader."

If comfort was an issue federally, it didn't seem as much an issue in the Hamilton East-Stoney Creek riding. That vote surprisingly resulted in the ousting of incumbent Wayne Marston of the NDP in favour of Liberal Bob Bratina. That riding had a significant shift in Liberal voting between 2011 and 2015, with an increase of over 13,000 votes.

Tyler Banham, the president of the Liberal Party of Canada Ontario and Hamilton resident, said the Liberal party benefits from being in the middle and that their situation favours Hamilton.

"Were a party that hugs the middle. That can be a bad thing if you're a mushy middle, but it's a good thing if you've got a strong middle with strong leadership."

Banham argued Hamilton has always been a Liberal town, he continued, but needed to be inspired by a strong leader.

For more discussion on the longest campaign in Canadian history, check out the entire post-election chat with Tim Abray available below.