This is my favourite kind of year: an election year. It is particularly interesting as New Brunswick will face a new electoral map. This is the first new map since 2006 and only the fourth map since New Brunswick switched to single-member ridings in 1974.
It is my hope to continue with my tradtional subjective analysis of the state of the race in each of the provincial ridings as I did in 2006 and again in 2010. I will supplement that with a more objective poll-based analysis using a seat model I have built for New Brunswick elections. I've been previewing that seat model on Twitter with each opinion poll that has come out in New Brunswick over the past while and will provide more details on it on this blog.
Both the subjective and objective analyses and the explanation of how the latter works will come closer to the election.
First, I'd like to talk about and do some high-level analysis of the new map.
New Brunsiwck has continued its recent trend of fewer districts. After peaking at 58 ridings from 1967-1995, New Brunswick went down to 55 and now to 49 ridings. We now also have a far stricter population variance between ridings, meaning the smallest riding and the largest riding are no more than 10% apart in population. In the past, this range was often around 50% or even more.
Unlike some who criticized the Electoral Boundaries Commission, I happen to think that they have done some excellent work with these boundaries.
Some areas that got considerable criticism which I think were in fact jobs very well done are:
In Fredericton, they have largely corrected the long-time flaw of having the city's immediate suburbs in sprawling rural ridings replacing them instead with urban-suburban ridings which will result in better representation for people.
Gagetown-Petitcodiac is a sprawling riding more than 150 kilometres across, but it consists only of very small municipalities and unincorporated areas with clear communities of interest. For the first time, these voters will have an MLA who can speak to their distinct issues rather than ones whose constituents primarily come from a larger municipality.
Certainly, I would not have drawn all of the boundaries the same and I have a few nitpicks here and there, but this was a very complex task that the commission did very well.
The one place I will criticize the commission is in the naming of some of the districts which is sometimes confusing (Carleton, York, Moncton East are names for previous districts that are re-used in areas bearing little resemblance to their predecessors) and sometimes heavily omit components (Oromotco-Lincoln draws 40% of its population from Fredericton, Charlotte-The Ilses goes far up the coast and includes parts of Saint John, Charlotte-Campobello contains significant parts of York County in the McAdam area). But these are minor details.
Now onto a look at the ridings. I will include a generic statement as to which party the riding generally leans. These statements are not meant to be predictive of the 2014 election, but of each riding's general character. For instance, a riding which would have gone PC in 9 or 10 of the past 10 elections would be called "solid PC", while one then went PC in 5 and Liberal and 5 would be called a toss up.
The guide to these ratings are:
- solid: this riding will almost always vote for this party;
- strong: this riding will usually vote for this party but could be lost in a moderate-to-big sweep election like 1982, 1995, 1999 or 2010;
- lean: this riding will go for this party in a close election or an election won by that party, but may be won by other parties who win with a moderate margin;
- toss up: this riding will likely go with the overall winner, be decided by local factors, or has an outcome highly dependent on the performance of third parties.
This riding which includes most of the city of Edmundston and some its immediate surroundings and is largely a successor to the old riding of Edmundston-St. Basile from which it draws about 71% of its population, with the balance (29%) coming from Madawaska-les-Lacs. Both of these ridings have been solidly Conservative in recent years, returning PC members since 1995.
This should be a solid riding for the PCs.
This is a riding that includes most of Madawaska County, including parts of the City of Edmundston. It excludes the eastern parts of the city, some of Madawska County immediately around the city and the St. Leonard area. It draws about 81% of its population from the old Madawaska-les-Lacs district, 16% from Edmundston-St. Basile and 2% from Restigouche-la-Vallée.
Like Edmundston-Madawaska Centre, this should be a solid riding for the PCs.
This is one of the ridings whose name iritates me a bit. Restigouche would be more appropriate, as this riding goes clear across the county including all of its western edge, but also most of its eastern edge as well. It excludes the corridor running from the western Campbellton city boundary through Dalhousie to the western Charlo village boundary, and the Belledune area. On the other hand, it includes Campbellton "suburbs" Tide Head and Atholville.
This is in many ways a merger of the 1974-1995 Restigouche West and Restigouche East districts. Restigouche West leaned PC, but went Liberal in good years for them (in 1987, Restigouche West was the closest seat for the PCs in a year in which they were shut out of the legislature). Restigouche East on the other hand was reliably Liberal.
Its immediately predecessors are Restigouche-la-Vallée from which it gets about 39% of its population, Campbellton-Restigouche Centre (37%) and Dalhousie-Restigouche East (24%).
This is seat leans slightly Liberal.
This riding is by far the smallest geographically in northern New Brunswick. It is about 35km across along Route 11; and generally less than 5km high. It includes the municipalities of Campbellton, Dalhousie, Eel River Crossing and Charlo; as well as a narrow strip of unincorporated areas between Campbellton and Dalhousie.
It draws 54% of its population from Dalhousie-Restigouche East and 46% of its population from Campbellton-Restigouche Centre.
It will likely feature an incumbent-vs.-incumbent battle between incumbent PC MLA Greg Davis (from Cambpellton-Restigouche Centre) and Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault (from Dalhousie-Restigouche East).
This is a seat that leans slightly Liberal.
This riding draws primarily from the old Nigadoo-Chaleur riding (about 61% of its population) but also brings in areas from Nepisiguit (26%) and Dalhousie-Restigouche East (13%).
Nigadoo-Chaleur was one of only 10 seats to go Liberal in 1999 and the only one of those that didn't have an incumbent MLA. That as well as more recent trends suggest that on paper, this should be a solid Liberal seat.
However, with the incumbent retiring and the fact that this was one of 9 ridings where the NDP would have taken greater than 15% of the vote in 2010 (23% to be precise), I'll rate it only strong Liberal. If the NDP is to hold its position of 20+% in the polls on election day, this is one of the areas where they'll need to look to convert votes to a seat.
The commission took the decision to split Bathurst in two and incorporate its nearest neighbours in urban-rural hybrids. I applaud this decision as the alternative would have been to set off 20% of Bathurst into a predominately rural riding where it would have been poorly represented. This is a predominately urban riding with 58% of its population coming from the city of Bathurst and another 30% from the urbanized town of Beresford.
This riding is the primary successor to the old Bathurst riding, taking 52% of its population from there. It also takes in about 30% of its population from Nigadoo-Chaleur and 18% from Nepisiguit.
This is a riding that leans slightly Liberal.
The commission took the decision to split Bathurst in two and incorporate its nearest neighbours in urban-rural hybrids. I applaud this decision as the alternative would have been to set off 20% of Bathurst into a predominately rural riding where it would have been poorly represented. This is a mostly rural riding with about 68% of its population coming from outside of the city of Bathurst.
It draws in its population in about a third each from Centre-Peninsule-Saint-Saveur (37%), Nepisiguit (34%) and Bathurst (26%). It also brings in a slight bit of territory from Caraquet.
On paper based on this ridings past voting history, this riding should be solid Liberal. However, we will be seeing an incumbent-vs.-incumbent battle here between PC MLA Ryan Riordon (from Nepisiguit) and Liberal MLA Denis Landry (from Centre-Peninsule-Saint-Saveur) both of whom will be facing a riding in which two-thirds of voters have never voted for them. At the same time, this is another of the potential NDP ridings, where the NDP would have had 19% of the vote in 2010. I will therefore rate this riding strong Liberal.
This is a barely changed riding. It brings 78% of its population from the safe Liberal seat of Caraquet, with 22% of its population coming from the safe Liberal seat of Centre-Peninsule-Saint-Saveur.
This seat is solid Liberal.
Long the safest Conservative seats in the northeast, this riding has expanded westward to take in some very Liberal friendly polls from Centre-Peninsule-Saint-Savuer.
If the close 2006 election had been fought under these boundaries, the PCs would have eked out a win of just 8 percentage points, compared to the 21 points it was won by under its old boundaries. If the 2010 election were re-run under these boundaries, it would have been won by the PCs by 14.7% - virtually the exact same margin as the provincewide vote.
This seat still leans PC, but it is not the bastion it once was.
This riding has been PC for a longer stretch than any other in the province, having gone PC in a 1994 by-election and stayed that way ever since. (One could argue with this, in that Carleton North went PC in a 1993 by-election, and then largely became Carleton in 1995 - however the new Carleton riding bears little resemblance to the old Carelton riding, which is generally a successor to the Woodstock riding. Most of what was Carleton North in 1993, has joined the Carleton-Victoria riding, half of which was Liberal from 1987-2010).
Despite this distinction, it has had a few close calls over the years and has gained some unfriendly territory from Miramichi Bay-Neguac (11% of the new riding's population) and Centre-Peninsule-Saint Saveur (6%). In fact, the PCs ran third in some of these new polls in 2010.
Nevertheless, this riding continues to lean PC.
This is another riding with a misleading name. This riding goes far inland from Miramichi Bay, including significant portions of the city of Miramichi and parts north and west thereof. Only 64% of its population comes from the old Miramichi Bay-Neguac riding. A more apt name might simply have been Miramichi-Neguac. Alternatively, it could have been called Northumberland North, with its sister riding, the awkwardly named Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin called Northumberland South.
The riding includes the coastal areas running from Neguac down to the city of Miramichi, includes the Douglastown and Nordin parts of that city, then goes north over the city limits inland taking in communities Beaverbook, Sunny Corner, Renous and Red Bank First Nation.
As noted above, about 64% of its population comes from the old Miramichi Bay-Neguac riding, with 29% coming from Miramichi Centre and 7% from Southwest Miramichi.
Based on past election results, this riding that leans Liberal.
This riding consists of almost all of the city of the Miramichi, excluding the Douglastown and Nelson areas. It draws roughly equal parts of its population from the old city-rural hybrid ridings of Miramichi Centre and Miramichi-Bay du Vin.
This riding will be an incumbent-vs.-incumbent affair pitting PC MLA and cabinet minister Robert Trevors (from Miramichi Centre) against Liberal MLA Bill Fraser (from Miramichi-Bay du Vin).
This riding's history suggests it is solid Liberal. In 2010, one of the worst Liberal elections in memory (lowest popular vote for which I can find a record), the Liberals would have won this seat under these boundaries. They would have won by a nearly 2-to-1 margin here in 2006, while tying the provincewide popular vote.
Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin
This is one of the largest ridings geographically on the new map stretching the full width of Northumberland County from Green Hill just west of the county line through to Escuminac on the Northumberland coast.
It is principally a successor to the Southwest Miramichi riding (from which it takes about 71% of its population) with the balance coming from the non-city portions of Miramichi-Bay du Vin.
In essence, it is a merger of the 1974-1995 Southwest Miramichi and Bay du Vin districts. Based on its electoral history, this riding is a bit of a toss up. Southwest Miramichi has went PC in 1974, Liberal in 1978, 1982 and 1987, CoR in 1991, Liberal in 1995, PC in 1999, Liberal in 2003 and 2006 and PC again in 2010. The old Bay du Vin ridng went Liberal in 1974 and 1978, but PC in 1982, and Liberal in 1987 and 1991. Its successor Miramichi-Bay du Vin went Liberal in 1995, but PC in 1999 and 2003, before returning red in 2006 and 2010.
Were the 2006 and 2010 elections fought under these boundaries, the PCs would have won in 2010 while exceeding their provincewide popular vote margin, while the Liberals would have done the same in 2006.
This riding is a pure toss up.
This riding is largely a successor the old Rogersville-Kouchibouguac district (from which it takes about 78% of its population), with the balance coming from the old Kent district in the Rexton area.
Under these boundaries in 2006, the riding would have gone PC by about 5 points, but this would have been due largely to the popularity of now-Senator Rose-May Poirier. In 2010, under these boundaries, the Liberals would have won by over 10 points despite their worst-ever showing in the provincewide popular vote.
Clearly this is a riding whose voting patterns are tied closely to local candidates and local issues making it a true toss up, though not likely a bellwether, for future elections.
Here is another poorly named district. It takes in only about half of the old Kent South district, leaving much confusion for those great many voters who will cast ballots in Shediac Bay-Dieppe or Moncton East in 2014 after having voted in a much different Kent South in 2010.
In fact, the majority of this riding comes from the old Kent district. About 55% of the its population comes from Kent, while only 45% comes from Kent South.
The old Kent riding is one of three current ridings (the others being Bathurst which is being cut in two and Shediac which continues) that has never voted any way but Liberal since single member ridings were created beginning in 1967.
However, due to a solid PC history in the most populous Bouctouche area, it would be fair to call this riding leans PC.
That represents a major change from its namesake (the old Kent South) which was solid Tory country in recent years.
If the trend from the 2013 by-election continues (in which Bouctouche went 2-to-1 for the Liberals), this riding would move into moderately safe Liberal territory.
This is a totally new riding bringing together the southern most parts of the old Kent South riding (48% of its population) with significant portions of the two Dieppe ridings (28% from Dieppe Centre-Lewisville and 20% from Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe) and a slice of Shediac-Cap-Pele (4%).
Liberal leader Brian Gallant is running here.
Its history suggests that it is a solid Liberal seat, and would have voted Liberal by a 4 point margin despite their worst ever showing in 2010.
Following the taking effect of new ridings in 2014, this will be the last remaining riding that has a perfect Liberal voting record. It is also one of the ridings that has changed the least since single-member ridings became the norm in 1974.
It shed one poll to Shediac Bay-Dieppe and is otherwise unchanged.
This is a solid Liberal riding.
This is probably the most controversial riding on the new map. Francophone groups argued from the outset against moving Memramcook into the predominately anglophone and underpopulated Tantramar riding. For reasons I do not understand, these groups felt it would be acceptable for the equally francophone Cap-Pelé area to be absorbed instead.
In any event, despite initial threats of a lawsuit, ongoing talks with government make it unlikely that these boundaries will change before the 2014 election. That does not rule out a post-election boundary challenge as was successfully the case with the federal Miramichi district after it had been used in the 2004 election but before it could be recontested in 2006.
Despite this change, this riding is still largely the same as the old Tantramar district which accounts for over two-thirds of its population.
Historically, this riding has strongly favoured incumbents. The only incumbent to ever be defeated here was New Democrat Bob Hall in the Liberal sweep of 1987. On other occassions when it has changed hands (1982 and a 1998 by-election) the incumbent had not reoffered.
While the old Tantramar riding has gone strongly Conservative for the past several elections, the incorporation of the Liberal leaning polls from the Memramcook area suggest this riding just leans PC.
This riding is likely to see an incumbent-vs.-incumbent battle between PC MLA Mike Olscamp (from Tantramar) and Liberal MLA Bernard LeBlanc (from Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe).
This riding includes much of the city of Dieppe drawing 77% of its population from the old Dieppe Centre-Lewisville riding and 23% from Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe. While both predecessor ridings included parts that were not in Dieppe, this riding is purely made up of parts of that city.
Its recent voting history suggests that this riding would been solid Liberal, even voting Liberal were the 2006 election re-run here when the old Dieppe Centre-Lewisville riding went narrowly for the PCs.
This is another poorly named riding. Despite its name, it incorporates only 32% of the old Moncton East riding, whose majority went instead to the new Moncton Centre riding. That said, that small piece of the old Moncton East riding is the plurality population source for this riding which is wholly new, being made up of parts of 6 old ridings, including the old Moncton East (31% of its new population), Moncton Crescent (20%), Memramcook-Lakeville-Dieppe (17%), Kent South (14%), Dieppe Centre-Lewisville (11%) and Petitcodiac (6%).
Its performance in past elections suggests that it should lean Conservative.
Despite its name, this riding is primarily a successor to the old Moncton East, from which it draws about 59% of its population; the balance comes from the old Moncton North district.
Though geographically this riding is essentially in the centre of the city of Moncton, its name has drawn some criticism from those who say "centre" implies downtown (or "centre-ville" in French). Moncton's downtown is in the Moncton South riding.
This riding is a true toss up. Were the close 2006 election refought here, my calculations suggest the PCs would have won - by 2 votes! That may be misleading however, as in 2006 the PCs were benefiting from the coattails of Bernard Lord who was re-elected in Moncton East at that time. My calculations suggest the PCs would have won this riding again in 2010 but only by about 1 percentage point, while winning provincewide by about 15 points. One could therefore argue that it leans a bit to the Liberals, but that is a hard argument to make for a riding that would have gone PC in the last 4 consecutive elections.
This riding is likely to feature an incumbent-vs.-incumbent race between PC MLA Marie-Claude Blais (from Moncton North) and Liberal MLA Chris Collins (from Moncton East).
This riding is the most compact of Moncton's electoral districts and includes its downtown. It is largely a continuation of the old Moncton West district (which was once called Moncton South). It draws about 84% of its population from that district, with the balance coming from the old Moncton East (10%) and Moncton Crescent (6%).
In each of the last two elections it would have been won by the PCs by about the exact same margin as they won the provincewide popular vote, making this a true toss up riding.
This riding is in the fastest growing corner of Moncton and is largely a successor to Moncton Crescent. Moncton Crescent was carved off from Petitcodiac in 1995 removing most of the city portions of that district. It was so named, because it was in the shape of a crescent over the top of the city of Moncton. In 2006, it lost its eastern most parts losing much of its crescent shape despite keeping the name. In 2014, it will essentially be just the northwestern third of its old self and is thus quite appropriately named.
It draws 92% of its population from the old Moncton Crescent and 8% from Petitcodiac. The old Moncton Crescent riding was massively overpopulated, such that 92% of the new district, is just 63% of the old, which also gave territory to Moncton East, Southwest and South. So this is not as clear of a continuation as it might sound on its face.
Nonetheless, this like the old Moncton Cresent is the safest conservative seat in the city of Moncton. Rated strongly conservative.
This riding, like the new Moncton East, is a very new district. No former riding brings forward a majority of its population, though a significant plurality (about 48%) comes from Moncton North. The balance comes from Petitcodiac (24%), Moncton West (15%) and Moncton Crescent (12%).
Its history suggest it should be a strong conservative riding.
This is one of three ridings whose origins can be traced back to only one predecessor. The old Riverview riding shed 3% of its population to Albert, the rest can be found here.
Like the old Riverview, the new Riverview rates solid Conservative.
This riding is much the same as the old Albert riding, from which it draws 86% of its population. The balance comes from Petitcodiac (11%) in the Salisbury area, and the territory it gained from Riverview (3%).
Like the old Albert, this riding should be solid Conservative.
This is another wholly new riding. It in an interesting riding which stretches nearly 200 kilometres from the Oromocto town line to the Moncton city line. It includes no towns, and a handful of incorporated villages but draws over 80% of its population from unincorporated areas.
Its predecessor ridings are Petitcodiac (45%), Grand Lake-Gagetown (35%), Oromocto (13%), Kings East (5%) and Hampton-Kings (3%).
Though people may have moved in the past 3 or so years, based on the addresses of candidates at the 2010 election - four incumbent MLAs live in this riding! These include Ross Wetmore (from Grand Lake-Gagetown) who is the nominated PC candidate here, Sherry Wilson (who is said to be running in Moncton Southwest), Jim Parrott (who would likely run in Kings Centre if he reoffers), and Jody Carr (who is said to be running in Oromocto-Lincoln).
This seat is solidly Conservative, perhaps their safest seat on the new map.
Despite the change in name, this is largely the old King East riding. It now stretches down toward the Fundy coast to take in the St. Martins area. It draws its population mostly from Kings East (78%), and also from Hampton-Kings and Saint John-Fundy (11% each).
On paper this is a solid PC riding.
This riding is actually quite a bit different from the old Hampton-Kings riding. It has lost most of its geography (including the Kingston Peninsula) and gained parts of Quispamsis and the city of Saint John.
It gets 47% of its population from Hampton-Kings, 18% each from Saint John-Fundy and Saint John East, 12% from Quispamsis and 6% from Rothesay (two rural polls to the southeast of the town).
On paper this leans slightly PC, but it was one of 9 ridings where the NDP got over 15% of the vote in 2010 and the NDP factor makes this riding a bit of a wild card.
This riding is largely the same as the old Quispamsis (and Kennebecasis before it). Since creation in 1995, this riding has been a perfect bellwether, voting with the government in every election. Its predecessor King West (which included Rothesay and Hampton as well as Quispamsis), also called the winner correctly in elections from its 1974 creation through 1991.
This riding is a toss up.
This riding has brought in some new population from Saint John-Fundy (25% of the new configuration). It goes from having been traditionally a lean PC seat to being a toss up.
Saint John East
This riding is something of a merger of the old Saint John East riding (from which it draws about 59% of its population) and the western part of the old Saint John-Fundy riding (which brings the other 41%).
This riding is one of three in provincial history to have voted NDP (in a 1984 by-election) and the NDP continues to be strong here, getting about 20% of the vote in the last election under these new boundaries.
On paper, it should be a moderately Liberal seat having been won handily by the Liberals in 2006 and lost just narrowly in 2010 beating the provincewide Liberal margin by about 10 percentage points.
Because of the NDP wildcard though, we'll deem it leans Liberal.
Saint John Portland
This riding is changed quite a bit from the old Saint John Portland riding. Its namesake does represent the majority of its population source (56%), but it also draws in population from the old Saint John East (33%), Saint John Harbour (8%) and Rothesay (3%).
This riding comes out as a toss up on paper (it would have gone Liberal under these boundaries in 2006 and was won by the PCs on about the same margin as the provincewide vote in 2010). The tossup factor comes further into play by the fact that this is another riding where the NDP would have scored over 15% in 2010.
Saint John Harbour
This riding is not substantially changed, having just brought in a piece of the old Saint John Portland district to correct for its underpopulation.
Its recent history suggests it should be rated moderately Liberal. However, the strong NDP history here and the fact that this was the NDP's second best riding in 2010 under both old and new boundaries calls that into some question. It will therefore be rated leans Liberal.
Saint John Lancaster
This is the least changed riding in the Saint John region, with 97% of its population coming from the old Saint John Lancaster.
This riding is prone to wild swings, having gone heavily Liberal in 1995 and 2006, heavily PC in 1999 and 2010. It must therefore be rated as a toss up.
This riding is quite different from anything on the last map, but is somewhat similar to the old Kings Centre riding which existed from 1974 to 1995.
It consists of Grand Bay-Westfield and surrounding areas, then crosses the river and runs up the Kingston peninsula and includes Norton.
The riding draws most of its population from the old Fundy-River Valley district (55%) and also from Hampton-Kings (39%); a small section of population - the Norton area - comes from Kings East (6%).
It rates as moderately Conservative.
Here is another poorly named district. Its predecessor got its name because it was part of Charlotte County including two of the three Fundy Isles. Now the riding runs well up the Fundy coast taking in a significant chunk of Saint John County and including a part of the city of Saint John. A better name might have been Charlotte-Fundy.
It takes 71% of its population from the old Charlotte-The Isles ridng and the balance from the old Fundy-River Valley (29%) whose southern/coastal parts it absorbed.
It would have gone Liberal in 2010 - the worst election in Liberal history - meaning it must be called solid Liberal.
Again, this riding is poorly named. The riding now stretches well into York County and contains McAdam, which will be the third largest municipality in the district. Charlotte West-McAdam would have been a better name.
It draws 75% of its population from the old Charlotte-Campobello riding, 15% from York and 10% from Charlotte-The Isles.
The riding rates as lean PC, having generally voted just slightly more in favour of the Conservatives than the province as a whole.
Like many seats in the Fredericton region, while I agree with where the lines were drawn, I find the names wanting. This riding draws nearly 40% of its population from the city of Fredericton, yet Fredericton is the only community that goes unnamed here. A better name might have been Oromocto-Fredericton Southeast.
This riding amounts to essentially a merger of the old Fredericton-Lincoln riding and the old Oromocto riding, taking 50% of its population from each. This represents 58% of the population of the old Oromocto riding and 55% of the old Fredericton-Lincoln riding.
The riding rates as lean PC, having generally voted just slightly more in favour of the Conservatives than the province as a whole.
This riding is probably the best named of the Fredericton districts, but to be clearer on what part of Fredericton is involved a name like Fredericton Northeast-Grand Lake or Marysville-Grand Lake might have been better.
This riding leans Liberal, and would have been lost by the Liberals by only 6 points in 2010, while losing the provincewide vote by about 15 points.
The old riding of New Maryland-Sunbury West was probably the safest PC riding in the capital region. This riding is safer still, taking in the Tory bastion of Geary and area.
It rates as strong Conservative.
This riding is misleading named. It contains only a small portion what would regularly be considered "Fredericton South" - running only only about 4 km across, while the southside of the city is about 15 km across. A better name might be Fredericton South Centre.
One also needs to be careful not to conflate it with the old Fredericton South riding which existed from 1974 to 2006, and particularly the version of it that existed from 1995 to 2006, as this riding includes much territory that was not in the latter, while excluding much of its territory.
While the old Fredericton South (and its successor Fredericton-Silverwood) had a perfect track record going back to 1974 of voting with the government, one should not expect this riding to be a bellwether.
It is the worst possible riding for the PCs in Fredericton, and it would never have been won by them, not even in their sweep of 1999. The riding would have gone Liberal in 2010, while the Liberals suffered their worst ever defeat. But it would not have been a perfect Liberal riding either. Had this riding existed in 2003, Elizabeth Weir would have been joined by a second New Democrat in the legislature.
On paper this would rate as a strong (but not solid) Liberal riding. However, the strength of both the NDP and the Greens here could make for interesting vote splits. This would have been the Greens best riding in 2010 - nearly 14% of the vote - and it was also a good NDP riding (21%). The PCs could have a hope here in the right election due to vote splits, though their ceiling is likely around 35% of the vote.
Based on these factors, rather than rating it strong Liberal, it will be rated leans Liberal.
Green Party leader David Coon is running in this riding.
Like Fredericton South, Fredericton North is misleading in its name. Over 42% of northside residents actually live in other ridings. Fredericton North Centre or Nashwaaksis-Devon would have been better names for this riding.
This riding, like Fredericton South, is more Liberal friendly than its predecessor districts due to it being a city centre riding. Its past history suggest it leans Liberal.
This riding wins the prize for the worst named riding on the map. This riding includes 12% of the City of Fredericton and 16% of York County. From its name, you might assume that it includes all or most of these areas. We would be just as well served calling this "electoral district 42" as it would be as helpful in its description.
The original proposal of Fredericton-Stanley would be better, but the commission changed it in its amendment to its final report as some of those not in Fredericton and not in Stanley were offended by the name.
Other alternatives might be Fredericton-Nashwaak Valley, Fredericton-York Northeast, Fredericton-Douglas-Stanley, etc.
The riding draws 47% of its population from the old York North district, 38% from the old Fredericton-Nashwaaksis district and 15% from the old Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak district.
The riding leans PC.
This district isn't terribly named, though Fredericton Southwest-Hanwell might be clearer. Fredericton-Hanwell-Kingsclear might also be a good name for this district.
The district is essentially a merger of the old York district (excluding Harvey and McAdam) and the old Fredericton-Silverwood district (excluding Fredericton's downtown). It draws 56% of its population from York and 44% from Fredericton-Silverwood.
This riding is a toss up on paper. It would have gone Liberal in 2006 but Conservative in 2010. It is also a strong riding for the NDP; they would have gotten 17% of the vote here in 2010.
NDP leader Dominic Cardy is running here.
This riding is also named poorly. It includes just 17% of the old riding of York, causing confusion for all concerned. It also includes significant portions of southern Carelton County.
A better name for this riding might have been York West.
This riding is strongly conservative.
This riding is named poorly too. It includes just 42% of the old riding of Carleton. A better name would be Carleton South or Woodstock-Hartland.
The riding is solidly conservative. Premier David Alward will be running here.
This riding is not terribly named, but Carleton North-Victoria would be a clearer description.
This riding is a merger of most of the old Carleton riding (58%) with nearly all of the old Victoria-Tobique riding (86%).
The new riding's population is 57% from Victoria-Tobique and 43% from Carleton.
The riding would have gone Liberal in 2006 but Conservative in 2010, by a much larger margin than provincewide. It is therefore deemed a tossup.
This riding name is a bit odd. It can be traced back to 1995 when the riding of Madawska-la-Vallée was created, getting its name because it contained the part of Madawaska County along the St. John River Valley before that river becomes the border with Maine.
In 2006, when parts of that riding were merged with Restigouche West, the name Madawska-Restigouche was tentatively given to the riding. But because there was a federal riding of the same name that covered much more territory they came up with Restigouche-la-Vallée instead. This made a little bit of sense but less than Madawska-la-Vallée.
Now the new commission has continued this trend, but the problem is that unlike Madawaska and Restigouche counties, Victoria County runs largely along this valley. So, it doesn't really make any sense.
A better name would have been Grand Falls-St. Leonard, Grand Falls-St. Leonard-Drummond or Victoria-Madawaska South.
Interestingly, this riding merges an area that has traditionally been reliable PC territory (St. Leonard) with one that has tradtionally been leaned to the Liberals (Grand Falls).
The result is a riding that is a toss up. It would have gone Liberal by 11 points in 2006 (an election with a virtual tie in the popular vote), but Conservative by 20 points in 2010 (beating their provincewide share by about 5 points).
Overall assessment of the new map
To sum up, we see that this is a pretty fair map with no inherent advantage to either of the main parties. I've labelled 18 seats as favouring the PCs, 18 as favouring the Liberals and 13 as tossups. This equity is mirrored in my seat model. If I plug in for the sake of experimentation an election where the PCs and Liberals each get 50% of the popular vote, the result is 25 seats for the PCs and 24 seats for the Liberals, that slight edge for the PCs is very slight as an election with a popular vote of 50.5% for the Liberals and 49.5% for the PCs models a result of Liberal 25, PC 24.
In the coming weeks, I'll explore areas of potential strength for the NDP and Greens, explain the seat model and begin my subjective "brief look at the ridings" as I did in 2006 and 2010.
Enjoy! I look forward to hearing your thoughts/reactions on Twitter, in the comments section or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org