New Brunswick·Analysis

Dissecting Justin Trudeau's Liberal sweep of New Brunswick

New Brunswick voters didn’t just turn their back on the federal Tories in Monday’s election, the Liberals swept the province’s 10 seats by drawing a record number of citizens to the polls and pulling votes from their two main rivals.

Justin Trudeau's Liberals won 228,425 votes in New Brunswick and earned 51.6% of the vote in the province

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      New Brunswick voters didn't just turn their back on the federal Tories in Monday's election, the Liberals swept the province's 10 seats by drawing a record number of citizens to the polls and pulling votes from their two main rivals.

      By the time all of the ballots were counted on Monday night, New Brunswickers had made history by allowing one party to win all of the province's seats.

      Drilling down into the 2015 results, a story clearly emerges of a province swinging emphatically to one party, a clear distinction from the national numbers.

      Voter turnout increase

      Justin Trudeau's Liberals steamrolled over Conservatives, NDP and Green candidates in Monday's election. The party won all 10 of New Brunswick's federal seats. (CBC)
      Similar to the rest of Canada, New Brunswick saw its voter turnout rate increase on Monday.

      As of 8:30 p.m. AT on Monday, 442,519 votes were cast, which represented 74.6 per cent of voters. The number of citizens voting in 2015 is the highest since at least 1984, which is the last record on the Elections Canada website.

      Four years ago, 392,208 votes were counted in New Brunswick, or 66.2 per cent of eligible voters.

      Justin Trudeau's Liberals emerged with all 10 ridings in the province by winning 228,425 votes, a gain of 140,554 votes over its 2011 levels.

      The party earned 51.6 per cent of the vote, a marked increase compared its poor 2011 result when the party finished in third place, securing 22.6 per cent of the vote.

      Paul Howe, a political scientist at the University of New Brunswick, said the boost in voter turnout could be explained a few different ways.

      "Clearly in this election there was a strong appetite for change. There was a strong movement of people voting to remove the government," Howe said.

      However, the influx of new voters could have positive spinoffs in the future. If these citizens continue the cycle of voting, that could see voter engagement continue in future elections.

      "Someone voting in this election will have a higher chance of voting next time," he said.

      Overall2015 votes2011 votesVote difference
      Liberal228,42587,871140,554
      Conservative112,035170,420-58,385
      NDP81,173115,830-34,657
      Green20,59012,3178,273

      Conservative collapse

      Nationally, Trudeau's Liberals benefited from an increase in votes by drawing on new voters but also cannibalizing the NDP vote. The Conservatives lost 54,268 votes, which represented a drop of less than one per cent. The NDP lost nearly 1 million votes, a drop of 27.85 per cent.

      Conservative Bernard Valcourt finished third in Madawaska-Restigouche, losing to Liberal René Arseneault and NDP candidate Rosaire L'Italien. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)
      The Conservatives, however, fared much worse when analyzing the New Brunswick numbers.

      Stephen Harper's Tories earned 112,035 votes, a drop of 58,384 votes, representing 25.3 per cent of the overall vote. So the party lost more votes just in New Brunswick than the cumulative drop they experienced across Canada.

      When Kim Campbell's Progressive Conservatives were decimated in the 1993 election, the Tories still managed to win the riding of Saint John and earned 27.9 per cent of the popular vote in the province.

      The plummeting Tory vote from Monday's election is best represented by the northwestern riding of Madawaska-Restigouche.

      Bernard Valcourt, who served as Harper's minister of aboriginal affairs, finished in third position behind the Liberals and NDP. Valcourt won only 16.1 per cent of the vote, down from 40.5 per cent in 2011.

      Just to the south of that riding, the Conservatives also had a disappointing result in Tobique-Mactaquac.

      The retirement of Mike Allen meant the Conservatives did not have an incumbent in the riding. Under Richard Bragdon, the Conservative vote dropped to 37 per cent, which was 25.2 percentage points lower than what Allen earned in 2011.

      While the Progressive Conservative defeats may have stung in those two ridings because they had a history of winning them, the Tory vote in two other ridings also dropped and saw the party finish in third place.

      The Conservative campaign stumbled in Acadie-Bathurst when candidate Louis Robichaud dropped out and had to be replaced by Riba Girouard-Riordon. Girouard-Riordon finished with 7.6 per cent of the vote, compared 50.7 per cent for the Liberals and 39.4 per cent for the NDP.

      In Beausejour, Liberal Dominic LeBlanc cruised to victory with 69 per cent of the vote, followed by the NDP candidate who had 15.1 per cent. The Conservative candidate won 11.4 per cent of the vote, down from 31.7 per cent in the previous election.

      NDP sees vote drop in 9 ridings

      Federal NDP candidates Sharon Scott-Levesque, A.J. Griffin, and Andrew Graham each failed to win in their ridings as the party's vote collapsed across the province. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)
      The NDP felt the Jack Layton-inspired orange wave lap at the shores of New Brunswick in 2011. The party earned 29.8 per cent of the vote, compared to the 22.6 per cent of the Liberals.

      The NDP had elected as many MPs as the Liberals – one – in the election, but with the NDP taking over as the Official Opposition in Ottawa, there was reason for optimism for the party's future growth in New Brunswick.

      That sense of optimism continued at the start of the 78-day campaign as national polls showed the NDP in first place. The party had a high-profile candidate, Rosaire L'Italien in Madawaska-Restigouche so there was hope the NDP's popularity could spill over into the riding and elect a MP.

      The party was hoping it could also hold Acadie-Bathurst and then perhaps pick up seats in any of the six ridings that they finished in second place in 2011.

      Instead, the NDP vote disintegrated. The party mustered 81,173 votes, a drop of 34,657. In percentage terms, the NDP won 18.3 per cent of the vote on Monday compared to 29.8 per cent four years ago.

      The party's disappointing showing is masked by the fact the party still performed very well in two ridings – Acadie-Bathurst and Madawaska-Restigouche – where it received 39 per cent and 25 per cent of the vote, respectively.

      The NDP's fortunes in Fredericton reflect how far the party fell in some ridings. The NDP had finished second in the riding in 2011, but the party slipped to fourth, behind the Liberals, Conservatives and Green Party on Monday.

      The NDP saw its share of the popular vote drop in nine of 10 ridings this year compared to the 2011 vote:

      • Acadie-Bathurst: -29.7 per cent
      • Beausejour -8.3 per cent
      • Fredericton -14.4 per cent
      • Fundy Royal -9.3 per cent
      • Madawaska-Restigouche 6.1 per cent
      • Miramichi-Grand Lake -7.5 per cent
      • Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe -12.3 per cent
      • New Brunswick Southwest -10.7 per cent
      • Saint John-Rothesay -13 per cent
      • Tobique-Mactaquac -7.8 per cent  

      Biggest and smallest wins

      The resounding Liberal win meant there were very few close races on election night.

      Liberal Alaina Lockhart won the closest race in New Brunswick on Monday, defeating Conservative Rob Moore.. (Redmond Shannon/CBC)
      The closest was Fundy Royal, where Liberal Alaina Lockhart became the second Grit in a century to win the southern riding.

      Lockhart defeated Conservative Rob Moore, who had been a Harper cabinet minister, by 1,779 votes.

      In the nearby, New Brunswick Southwest riding, Liberal Karen Ludwig also won in a riding that is considered a Conservative stronghold.

      She defeated Conservative incumbent John Williamson by 1,941 votes.

      By comparison, the narrowest margin in Canada was in Winnipeg's Elmwood-Transcona, where the NDP's Daniel Blaikie won by 51 votes over Tory incumbent Lawrence Toet.

      On the other extreme, four New Brunswick Liberals won their seats with more than 50 per cent of the vote.

      Dominic LeBlanc, who was the only Liberal elected in New Brunswick in the last election, cruised to victory with 69 per cent of the vote.

      A comfortable victory, for sure, but it is a far cry from Liberal Judy Foote's victory, who won her Newfoundland and Labrador riding with 81.8 per cent of the vote.

      About the Author

      Daniel McHardie

      Digital senior producer

      Daniel McHardie is the digital senior producer for CBC New Brunswick. He joined CBC.ca in 2008. He also co-hosts the CBC political podcast Spin Reduxit.

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