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UPDATE: Key ridings, demographics for the May 2 election

As a federal election now seems imminent for Monday May 2, it would appear that the outcome of the election – and the difference between a Conservative majority, minority or even a coalition government – could come down to a small number of ridings across the country.

The Globe and Mail reported several years ago that in 2006, “almost 15 million Canadians cast their ballots. But the decisive factor — the difference between a Conservative or Liberal minority government — came down to less than 15,000 votes in 12 tightly-fought ridings or 0.001 per cent of Canadian voters.” They noted then that, “the 2008 election…will be decided in 45 key battleground ridings in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.”

That seems to be the case for the likely May 2011 election too.

TORY TARGETED-RIDINGS: Last December, the Globe and Mail reported that, “Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have drawn up a list of about 45 opposition-held ridings across the country that would be vulnerable in a federal election. Most of them are in urban Southern Ontario. Winning a third of those seats-in-play would secure the Conservatives a majority government.”

CITIES: Postmedia News has reported that, “Toronto is in for a lot of attention in the next federal election. Picking up one or more of the city’s 23 seats is a goal that has so far eluded Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in their quest for a majority. And Toronto won’t be the only urban battleground. Harper needs to expand his party’s base in Canada’s other largest cities — Vancouver and Montreal — and the Tories have been hard at work in all three urban cores trying to do just that as speculation builds about a possible election this spring. …An analysis of voting results over the last three elections in 2004, 2006 and 2008 shows that the percentage of the total vote in Toronto has consistently dropped for the Liberals, while it has risen steadily for the Conservatives in more than half of Toronto’s ridings.”

SENIORS: Today, the Globe and Mail reports that, “At election time senior citizens are worth more than the rest of us. They vote. …About 75 per cent of Canadians over 65 are reliable voters, meaning they voted in the last federal, provincial and municipal elections, according to the Statistics Canada General Social Survey (and nearly 90 per cent vote in federal elections). Among 25- to 44-year-olds, the proportion of reliable voters is closer to 45 per cent. Targeting older voters is clearly an efficient way to campaign.”

RURAL RIDINGS WITH SENIORS: “Rural ridings…also tend to be older. That makes seniors’ votes even more significant in areas such as Atlantic Canada, rural Quebec and Northern Ontario, where several races will have a significant impact on the election. Of the ridings identified…as Conservative targets, Sault Ste. Marie, Welland, Kingston and the Islands, Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, Vancouver South, Burnaby-Douglas and Edmonton-Strathcona all have senior populations that exceed the Canadian average.”

‘ETHNIC VOTE’: “The Conservative effort to target ridings described in a party memo as ‘very ethnic’ is by now well known. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has been aggressively courting immigrant voters concentrated around the edges of Toronto and Vancouver. But the Conservatives admit they’re still losing that fight to the Liberal Party.”

The Council of Canadians is now in the process of identifying key ridings across the country to focus our efforts during this election campaign. More on this soon.