Canada votes 2015: why 24 riding gains didn't go Liberal

In Quebec, the BQ took nine ridings from the NDP and the Conservatives won six NDP seats and one BQ seat, while in the rest of Canada, it was the NDP that gained eight ridings from the Conservatives.

The BQ, Conservatives and NDP did gain some ridings, despite the red tide

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, left, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, right, leave the set after a debate on Sept. 24 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

In the rising Liberal tide that swept across Canada on election Monday, a mere 24 of the 169 ridings that changed hands didn't go Liberal.

Crunching the numbers for those ridings does have something to say about the overall result, but the big story of election night — the Liberal tide — was certainly a key influence on the outcome in those 24 ridings

Quebec accounts for 16 of the 24 ridings that switched hands and didn't go Liberal. B.C. has five and Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have one each.

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The eight ridings outside Quebec are all former Conservative seats that the NDP won on Monday night, the only gains for the NDP.

The numbers in this story use the redistributed numbers from 2011, so that the results match the new riding boundaries. If there was a byelection since 2011, that result counts in the number of gains, though.

The combined effect of redistribution and byelections put the number of seats the Liberals retained at 39, while they won 34 in the 2011 general election. The Liberals held on to all the seats they won in 2011 and increased their seats by a net two through byelections.

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau kisses his wife Sophie Gregoire before his victory speech on Oct. 19. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

NDP takes 8 Conservative seats

The NDP's vote went down in most provinces, but not in the North, P.E.I. or B.C.  

While the Liberals swept the Atlantic and the North, four parties won seats in B.C. However, the NDP vote in B.C. only went up by fewer than a 1,000 votes (their share was down seven points), based on Elections Canada's preliminary numbers.

Turnout in B.C. was 70.4 per cent according to Elections Canada, up 10 points from 2011.

But Conservative support went down by about 150,000 votes in B.C., a significant drop: Overall they lost only 235,000 votes across Canada.

In those eight new NDP seats, the Conservative vote and share of the vote went down in all eight.

In seven of those ridings the share of the vote for the NDP also went down, but the number of votes increased in seven of them.

The one riding of the eight where the NDP vote number decreased was Elmwood-Transcona in Winnipeg, which was also the closest race of the 338 ridings up for grabs on Monday.

New Democrat Daniel Blaikie won by 61 votes in the now validated count.

Compared to 2011, the turnout for this election was up across Canada, and by 13 points in Alberta. Calgary voters line up outside a polling station on Oct. 19. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

A lesson here is: had the Liberal tide been stronger in these ridings, and more voters moved from NDP to Liberal, it's possible the Conservatives would have held onto those seats.

A big part of the story for those eight ridings switching hands was the increase in Liberal support. While the Liberals didn't win these races, their share of popular vote went up by between 15 to 30 points in all but one of these eight ridings.

The exception was the rural area around Windsor, Ont, Essex riding. The Liberal share rose by only seven points, their total vote by 5,478. Essex was the one riding of the eight new NDP ridings where the NDP's share didn't drop.

(On mobile? View the full map of B.C. results here.)

Mostly gains for the BQ

The Bloc Québécois went from winning four seats in the 2011 election to 10 seats this time, but they did so with about 73,000 fewer votes, based on preliminary numbers. Their share of the popular vote fell from 23 per cent to 19 percent.

The BQ only held on to one of the seats it won in 2011, losing one to the Conservatives and two to the Liberals. But they won nine seats that had been part of the NDP's orange wave in 2011.

In eight of these nine ridings, both the number of BQ votes and its share of the vote went up, breaking with the Quebec-wide trend. The exception was Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères on the South Shore, across from the Island of Montreal.

The NDP vote went way down in Quebec, by about 560,000 votes, and the pattern was the same in the 16 Quebec seats that went to the Conservatives or BQ.

In the nine ridings it lost to the BQ, the New Democrats' share of the popular vote fell by between 21 and 29 points.

In eight of these nine ridings, the Conservative vote went up as well. In the one, Manicouagan, that shows a smaller Tory vote than in 2011, the Conservative candidate received just 185 fewer votes than before, finishing fourth.

The BQ may have the Liberals and the Conservatives to thank, more than themselves, for those nine seats it gained, seats where those two parties appear to have shaken loose more votes, in a losing cause, from the NDP, than the BQ vote count went up.

(On mobile? View the map of Quebec results here.)

Conservatives take 6 NDP seats in Quebec

The NDP also lost six seats to the Conservatives in Quebec. In those six, BQ support was down, the same for the NDP.

But in five of the six, Conservative vote numbers as well as its share of the vote were up, so the party can take more credit for their wins.

In the one exception, a close race in Montmagny–L'Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup, NDP losses were significantly smaller than in the other ridings, but the Liberal tide probably still influenced the outcome.

Overall, the Conservatives received 80,000 more votes in Quebec than they did in 2011.

In the one seat that the Conservatives won from the BQ, Richmond–Arthabaska, Conservative support was also up, BQ support was down and the drop in NDP support was the smallest of all the 16 Quebec ridings in this story.

Total surprise

Even though the Liberals didn't win any of these seats, when compared to their performance in 2011, their total vote numbers are surprising. 

Their combined share of the popular vote in the 24 ridings went from seven per cent to 26 per cent and the Liberal tide was strong enough to lift them to second place in 13 of the 24 ridings. 

In 2011, the Liberal Party finished fourth in 17 ridings and third in the other seven.

Adding together these 24 ridings, hostile territory for Liberals in 2011, saw them make huge gains in the their vote numbers and share. And those gains appear to come mostly from new voters, reflecting the national pattern. In the 24 ridings combined, the NDP's share of the vote was down 16 per cent, with the other parties recording little change.