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Stability and change in electoral patterns : the case of the 1972 British Columbia provincial election in Vancouver Rumley, Dennis

Abstract

This dissertation demonstrates how variables previously neglected in voting studies - the political culture of the political system, migration, models of political space, area integration, and the geography of campaigning - can increase our understanding of the stability and change of electoral patterns. The variables are examined in three local areas in Vancouver, Canada, for the 1972 British Columbia Provincial Election. Data were obtained from personal interviews of inhabitants of the three local areas, and by personal interviews of representatives of the competing political parties. The argument is presented that B.C. political culture is essentially class-based and this provides a background understanding to the development of particular political norms in the three areas studied. The 1972 election is seen in the context of B.C. political history as an election of reaction against the Social Credit Party. Areas of consistent voting habits (political norms) are identified in Vancouver and a model of political space describing these consistencies is presented. Migration data are used to show that individuals tend to move to areas whose political norm is the same as their own political preference. A variety of latent and manifest measures of functional integration are used to show differences in the level of integration in the three areas under study. Status and voting behaviour are found to be associated. Associations between latent integration measures are found at the aggregate and individual levels. Individuals with a high degree of attachment to their area of residence are shown to vote in relation to the 'area norm'. Differences in the spatial organisation of political party campaigns and differences in the degree of spatial competition of canvassing are shown to be associated with differences in electoral outcome. Polls for which parties competed strongly tended to vote disproportionately in relation to the area norm, although this varied with the degree of integration of the area concerned.

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