Mapping the Canadian Election Results: Technical Details

Bothered by the widespread use of Web Mercator by Canadian news outlets to show last week’s election results, Kenneth Field has posted an article that aims to address the problem. Static maps of Canada tend to use a conic projection like the Albers or the Lambert, and that’s the case for print election maps as well. Online interactive maps, on the other hand, use off-the-shelf tools that use Web Mercator, which results in the sparsely populated territories looking even more enormous. But that doesn’t have to be the case, says Ken, who shows us, with a few examples, how use ArcGIS Pro to create interactive maps using a conical projection.

Meanwhile, Mark Gargul writes in response to Ken’s critique of his cartogram of the election results. Mark describes himself as an amateur and readily admits that other cartograms are “clearly more aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, I was going for something different with my cartogram—specifically, to try to preserve riding-adjacency as much as possible.”

The other thing Mark was going for in his cartogram was to indicate the urban-rural split: metropolitan areas are given a black border: it’s easy to see which ridings are in Montreal or Toronto; seats that are partially urban and partially rural straddle those borders.

So it’s doing several things at once that may not be immediately apparent.

Previously: A Cartogram of Canada’s Election Results; More Canadian Election Maps.

More Canadian Election Maps

I hit “Publish” too soon last night. Kenneth Field and Craig Williams put together a series of maps showing the Canadian election results in a number of different ways: we have a value-by-alpha map, a proportional symbol map, and two kinds of dot density maps: one showing the winners, one showing all votes per constituency. (One dot equals 100 votes; the dots are spread evenly across constituencies, even when people aren’t. You can’t have everything.) And it’s on the Lambert, not the Mercator.

Speaking of the Mercator. Maps Mania’s roundup of Canadian election results maps notes that the Canadian media’s interactive maps (e.g. CBC, Global, Globe and Mail) invariably resorted to Web Mercator, largely because of the mapping platform used. (In-house infographics team? Don’t be ridiculous.) Web Mercator is singularly bad for Canadian election maps, because Nunavut: it’s the largest electoral district by area (1.9 million km2) and the smallest by population (31,906). It’s enough of a distortion on the Lambert: Mercator makes it worse.

As for cartograms, Ken hated the one I posted last night; Keir points to Luke Andrews’s Electoral Cartogram of Canada, which is a bit nicer, and uses only one hexagon per riding instead of seven. Keir also points to this animation that shifts between a geographical map and a cartogram. It’s hard to recognize Canada in cartograms, because it’s difficult for us to grasp just how many people live in southern Ontario.

Previously: A Cartogram of Canada’s Election Results.

A Cartogram of Canada’s Election Results

This cartogram shows the seat-by-seat results of the federal election held last Monday in Canada. It was uploaded to Wikipedia by user Mark Gargul to illustrate the 2019 Canadian federal election article, and it’s a welcome departure from the usual election results maps in this country.

(An example of the usual results map is Elections Canada’s official map of the unofficial results, in PDF format.)

Canadian election results maps generally use geographic maps, usually the Lambert conformal conic projection that most maps of Canada use (though sometimes it’s the Mercator!) rather than cartograms. Which means that Canadian maps suffer from the same “empty land doesn’t vote” problem that U.S. maps have, though it’s mitigated by the fact that vast rural and northern seats are often won by different parties: you don’t have the same sea of one colour that you get in the States.

That said, Canada is overwhelmingly urban, and so are its electoral districts. Most election results maps resort to using multiple inset maps to show the urban results. (Elections Canada’s map has 29 of them.) Gargul’s cartogram sidesteps both problems neatly; on the other hand, it’s next to impossible to find your own damn constituency (it’s hidden in the mouseover text). If the disadvantage of empty-land election results maps is that the colours aren’t representative, their advantage is that you can tell what regions voted for whom, at least if you know your geography.

Mapping India’s Elections

If you’re interested in election results maps from around the world, you really ought to be following Maps Mania, where Keir provides first-rate coverage. Case in point, his post about maps of the recent elections to India’s Lok Sabha, its lower house of parliament, which points to interactive maps from The Indian Express and Reuters (also The Financial Times, but that’s behind a paywall).

United States of Apathy

United States of Apathy (Philip Kearney)

In April amateur cartographer Philip Kearney created “United States of Apathy,” a map that imagined the 2016 U.S. presidential election results if nonvoters were counted as a vote for “nobody,” in which case “nobody” would have won the electoral college by a landslide. Esri cartographer Jim Herries recently collaborated with Kearney on an interactive version that explores the phenomenon of apathetic voters in more depth. [CityLab]

xkcd’s 2018 Midterm Challengers Map

The web comic xkcd has done maps before (and I’ve covered most of them) but Friday’s iteration was a departure all the same: an interactive map of the challengers in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections: the larger the candidate’s name, the more significant the office and the better their odds of winning. Remember, these are only the challengers: no incumbents are listed.

Electing the House of Representatives, 1840-2016

There’s a lot of stuff relevant to our interests on the website of the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, and it’s hard to know what to begin with. One of the more recent projects, which CityLab saw fit to link to yesterday, is an interactive map showing elections to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1840 to 2016. It’s the kind of project that the user can get very, very lost in. In addition to the usual map of U.S. congressional districts, the site can also visualize the districts as a dot map to minimize the empty-land-doesn’t-vote problem (they call it a cartogram: it isn’t). There’s also a timeline showing the overall results over time at a glance; selecting a district gives shows how the district voted in past contests as a line graph. In other words: quite a lot of data, economically presented.

An Interactive Map of the Quebec Election Results

CBC News’s interactive map of last month’s provincial election in Quebec gives us a detailed look at who won each poll, and by how much (percentages, not raw numbers), and compares those results with those from the 2014 election. The map highlights where the pockets of support for each of Quebec’s parties can be found; comparing those pockets with the 2014 results is quite revealing. (The 2018 election was a bit of a watershed, as support bled from the established Liberal Party and Parti Québecois to the upstart CAQ, which won, and Québec Solidaire.) Here’s the accompanying story from CBC News.

Previously: Mapping the Quebec Election Results.

What If Only … Voted: 2018 Edition

FiveThirtyEight looks at the polling data for the upcoming 2018 midterm elections and imagines the results for the U.S. House of Representatives if only women, men, nonwhite voters and white voters by education level voted. It’s a thought exercise they’ve indulged in before, with the presidential race in 2016, and it serves to indicate the demographic divide in voting intentions. (Cartographically, the maps suffer from the usual problem of U.S. election maps of congressional districts—large, sparsely populated districts in the middle of the country dominate the map.)

Previously: Trump, Clinton and the Gender Gap; What If Only … Voted?

Mapping the Quebec Election Results

CBC News

These CBC News infographics explore the results of last week’s provincial election in Quebec, comparing the vote share of the political parties among key socioeconomic and linguistic populations where there were the highest correlations. The maps are constituency level and use a modified hexagon grid to control for population density. [Canadian Geographers]

Mapping the 2018 Colombian Presidential Election, First Round

The first round of Colombia’s presidential election was held yesterday. Reddit user jesaub posted this map of the first-round results to r/MapPorn; unlike other maps I’ve seen, it drills down to the municipal level, but as a static map (and fairly low-res at that) it’s not able to show much else. For an interactive map of the results, see El Tiempo’s page, which maps by department but provides municipal-level results via search.

The New York Times Maps the Virginia Governor’s Race

The New York Times

The New York Times’s graphics department generally does very good election maps, and their work on yesterday’s gubernatorial election in Virginia is no exception. I particularly like how the interactive map toggles from a standard choropleth map to maps that better account for population density, show the size of each candidate’s lead and the shift in vote since the 2016 presidential election.