Riding Profile and Analysis: Newmarket-Aurora
In the weeks and months following the 2008 federal election, I began to prepare the following page as an analysis of electoral results and trends in the riding of Newmarket-Aurora, Ontario. This page will be updated as future elections occur. Please feel free to add your comments and insights about this riding.
The riding of Newmarket-Aurora is located approximately 20 km north of the City of Toronto. The riding, which has a population of 121,924, is comprised of the town of Newmarket in the north and Aurora in the south. Newmarket-Aurora is bordered by the riding of York-Simcoe in the north, and the riding of Oak Ridges-Markham to the east, west and south.
Newmarket, which has the highest population density of the nine municipalities in York Region, accounts for 61% of the riding population but only 43% of its land area.
The riding, pictured below in the official Elections Canada map, is largely rectangular in shape, with Highway 404 serving as the eastern limit and Bathurst Street in the west. The riding stretches just under 12 km from north to south, and about 7 km from east to west.
Source: Elections Canada
The map below shows the location of Newmarket-Aurora relative to the rest of southern Ontario.
Manufacturing is the major industry within Newmarket-Aurora, with auto parts maker Magna International as the largest manufacturer. Median household income in 2005 was just over $85,000 per year. 14% of residents identify themselves as a visible minority.
Voting Patterns by Geography
Do you live next door to a Liberal? If you can locate your house on the maps below, you just might get a feel for the odds on such a situation!
I produced the following maps from poll-by-poll data over the last three federal elections. Results from each poll are graphed based on the margin of victory of the winning candidate. The darker the colour, the stronger the win in that poll. Only Conservative (blue) and Liberal (red) are represented on the maps, as these two parties dominate Newmarket-Aurora. Candidates from the other political parties did not win any polls.
To identify consistent areas of support for each party, the map below shows polls that voted for the same party in each of the past three elections. The darker the colour, the stronger the average support for that party over the past three elections.
From studying each of the maps above, we can see that Newmarket tends to show stronger Conservative leanings than Aurora. Another clear trend is that in both towns, voters at advance polls are more likely to vote Conservative.
Areas of consistent Conservative support (mostly Newmarket):
The area north of Davis Drive on both sides of Main Street. This area includes a mix of demographics with many areas of semi-detached bungalows from the 1960’s in the $250,000 price range as well as 2,500 square foot detached homes from the 1980’s in the $400,000 price range.
The area north of Mulock Drive across from the Magna Centre known as College Manor. The community features detached homes from the late 1990’s in the $400,000 to $500,000 price range.
The area east of Bathurst Street and south of the Glenway golf course. This community features homes similar to those in the College Manor area.
Parts of the Quaker Hill area off of William Roe Blvd in Newmarket. This area includes smaller 1960’s era homes in the $300,000 price range.
The area where I currently reside, south of Mulock Drive and west of Leslie Street in Newmarket known as Stonehaven. This is a community of homes ranging from 12 to 20 years old. This area features homes ranging in size from 3,500 to 5,500 square feet. Housing prices here range from $500,000 to over $1 Million.
The area in the south end of Newmarket along the St. Andrew’s Valley golf club. This area features larger homes worth well over $500,000.
The area south of St. John’s Sideroad and east of Bathurst Street in Aurora. This area is similar to Newmarket’s Stonehaven community, featuring homes ranging from $500,000 to over $1 Million.
The area north of the Beacon Hall golf club. This prestigious area of Aurora features large multi-million dollar homes, and is among the most expensive real estate in the riding.
Areas of consistent Liberal support (mostly Aurora):
The Park Avenue area north of Eagle Street in Newmarket. This established area features older detached homes in the $400,000 price range.
The newer area on the east side of Yonge Street off of Savage Road in south Newmarket. This area is comprised of newer detached homes in the $400,000 price range.
The Heathwood Heights area in northwest Aurora. This area features larger detached homes in the $500,000 price range.
The area along Old Yonge Street in the north end of Aurora. This area includes mostly detached homes in the $350,000 price range.
The area south of St. John’s Sideroad and west of Bayview Avenue. This area is relatively new and consists of mostly single-family homes in the $350,000 price range.
The area along Aurora Heights Blvd. around Machell Park and continuing well past the community centre. Mostly bungalows and split-level homes from the 1960’s, this established area includes homes in the $300,000 price range.
The Yonge Street corridor in Aurora between Wellington Street and Henderson Drive and stretching east past Industrial Parkway. This area is well established and features a big mix of property types across many neighbourhoods.
The area off of Henderson Drive mid-way between Yonge and Bathurst Streets. This area features homes from the 1960’s to the 1980’s with prices ranging from $300,000 to $500,000.
Other generalizations are that newer developments in both towns, at both upper and lower home prices, are more likely to support the Liberals more than the more established areas. That’s not to say that those areas consistently vote Liberal, or that there are no exceptions to the rule, just that the Liberal support is typically stronger there than in the older communities. As an example of this, look at the intense Liberal support in the 2006 election in the newer developments along the Bayview Avenue corridor in Aurora.
While many of the expensive areas of the riding have Conservative tendencies, we cannot conclude that the Conservatives have the support of higher income earners. There are many expensive areas of town that changed party support over recent elections. We also see that Aurora generally has stronger Liberal support than Newmarket, but Aurora has a higher average household income than Newmarket.
Voting Trends and Patterns
One of the myths trotted out by many commenters on various political forecasting blogs (DemocraticSpace and Election Prediction Project, for example), is that Newmarket-Aurora is basically a Liberal riding by default. The fact is, that just isn’t true, and such commenters simply haven’t studied the numbers in much detail. It has elected many Conservatives and Liberals in its history. Relative to the rest of Ontario, Newmarket-Aurora is generally Conservative, even though it is situated in the Greater Toronto Area.
During the course of a federal election, we are constantly bombarded with polling information, often on a daily basis. Most of these polls prove to be very accurate, and based on a collection of opinion polls in the days leading up to voting day, the overall national or even provincial results of the election are rarely a big surprise. However, the local results in any specific riding are more difficult to guess. Due to the high cost of opinion polls, it is rare to see a poll conducted specifically for one riding. Therefore, I have analyzed the results of past elections, and have generalized a formula to roughly predict the outcome of an election in Newmarket-Aurora, based on available polling data for the province of Ontario.
Local Conservative support =
Ontario Conservative support + 7% ± Star Factor up to 5%
Local Liberal support =
Ontario Liberal support + 0% ± Star Factor up to 5%
An analysis of past election results in the riding show that, in the absence of a so-called ‘star candidate’, Newmarket-Aurora tends to support the Conservative party by about 7% more than the provincial average. Liberal support tends to mirror Liberal support for the province as a whole, and the other parties are generally under-represented in the riding results.
The tables below compare the results for the past five elections. The only ‘star candidate’ in the riding, who had the ability to noticeably move local voter opinion beyond the general support for the party, was Belinda Stronach. While she was not a highly skilled or talented MP, her family name carries a lot of weight in the area, and in Aurora specifically. No other candidates of similar personal status have appeared on a local ballot in recent memory. This effect can be seen in the 2004 election where local Conservative support grew beyond its traditional margin over the provincial support level, and in 2006 where local Liberal support increased after Belinda defected to the Liberal party.
A review of the 2004 and 2006 results seem to suggest that a star candidate in Newmarket-Aurora has the potential to swing local support by up to approximately 5%. To move support beyond that range would likely require the power of a very big name that a ballot in this riding has not seen in living memory. It would also need to be someone with a significant base of support in both Newmarket and Aurora.
2008 Federal Election - Winner: Lois Brown, Conservative
2006 Federal Election - Winner: Belinda Stronach, Liberal
2004 Federal Election - Winner: Belinda Stronach, Conservative
Prior to the 2004 election, the Newmarket-Aurora electoral district did not exist. Therefore, the tables below are compiled from election results from two different districts. Newmarket results are pulled from the results of polling data within the Town of Newmarket from the old riding of York North. Aurora results are taken from the results of polls within the Town of Aurora from the old riding of Vaughan-King-Aurora.
Also prior to the 2004 election, the Conservative Party of Canada did not exist. The tables below show the combined results of the two parties that merged to form the current CPC. While one cannot assume that a supporter of the predecessor parties would necessarily support the current CPC, the primary purpose of the following tables is not to compare past support to current support, but rather to compare results within the riding to overall Ontario results.
2000 Federal Election
*Combination of Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative votes.
1997 Federal Election
**Combination of Reform Party and Progressive Conservative votes.
Star power is certainly not everything, but in close races it can make the difference, as it did for Belinda Stronach twice. Looking at the above tables, and using the local election prediction formula mentioned above, we can speculate that the results of the 2004 and 2006 elections could have been very different without Ms. Stronach in the race.
Would the Conservatives have won in 2004 without Belinda? Probably not. Conversely, would the Liberals have won in 2006 without Belinda? Again, probably not. If Belinda ran again for the Liberals in 2008 would she have retained her seat? Probably not, because the Conservatives had too great a lead overall in Ontario, although Belinda would have given Lois Brown a closer race. We’ll never know the answers to those questions for sure, but it is fun to speculate.
And what can we say about the most recent election? Many people thought that Tim Jones would be a star candidate for the Liberals. However, the election results certainly don’t support that theory. Tim Jones is a former mayor of Aurora, but he lost the last mayoral election, so how popular could he be? Would anybody in the Town of Newmarket care about a former Aurora mayor? He certainly wasn’t liked enough to move the voters. There was a slight Liberal gain in Aurora beyond the provincial Liberal average, but it was exclusively at the expense of parties other than the Conservatives. Furthermore, what little Tim Jones may have gained locally in Aurora, he appeared to give back in Newmarket support, with Lois Brown surpassing the provincial Conservative support level by over 12% in her town.
Now we can only wait until the next election, whenever that may be, where it will be interesting to see if my prediction formula holds up!