Health Warning: I have extracted these statistics for Newmarket Ward 5 from Elections Canada tables on voting in Newmarket Aurora at the last Federal Election in 2015 – the last time people in the Ward actually voted. The map below shows the polling districts in Ward 5 which I have married up with the votes cast.

I am sure there are errors of mine in what follows but the big picture is clear. Ward 5, like Newmarket as a whole, seems to be a pretty middle-of-the-road kind of place. 

There is, of course, no read across from the results of a Federal Election in Ward 5 and a municipal by-election.

Most obviously, the turnout is way down for a municipal election.

But the information helps us paint a picture of the Ward when used in conjunction with the material we can extract from the census and the National Household Survey.

I have not wandered into the undergrowth comparing Ward 5 voting in the 2015 and 2011 Federal Elections but I suspect Ward 5 moved to the Liberals, mirroring sentiment across the riding and across the nation that it was time for a change.

No Party Tickets

Municipal elections are, of course, not fought on Party tickets but many of the candidates have an association with a political party.

The Ward 5 by-election is fascinating. There are seven candidates and one issue that dominates – the future of a planning application to redevelop the Clock Tower in the heart of Ward 5 in Newmarket’s historic Downtown.

The northern boundary of the Ward is Davis Drive and in the South, Mulock Drive. The Western boundary is Yonge Street and on the east, just beyond the railway track, Prospect Street and Bayview.

There are 7,985 people on the voters’ list. In the last Federal Election 4,256 people actually voted (excluding rejected ballots) giving a turnout of 53.2%

At the last municipal election in Ward 5 in 2014 there were four candidates who together got 3,198 votes. The turnout was 40%

The Eagle Street divide

The Ward has fairly uniform characteristics but with some subtle differences between its northern and southern parts. The natural north-south dividing line in Ward 5 is Eagle Street. There are 4,186 electors north of Eagle and 3,799 south. The turnout is higher in the south (57%) than in the north (50.3%). 

Overall, the Liberals took 45.5% of the vote in Ward 5 with the Conservatives trailing with 38.4%. The NDP took 11.3%, the Greens 3.4% and the Rev Dorian Baxter just over 1%.

The Liberals did better in the voting north of Eagle than south (46.2% to 44.3%).

The Conservatives did better south of Eagle than north (40.5% to 35.9%)

The Greens did better in the North of the Ward than in the south (4.1% to 2.6%) as did the NDP (12% to 10.5%)

Does this help us predict who is going to win the by-election on 17 October?

Hmmmm... no

The Dark Arts

There are lots of interesting variables. We have one candidate, Bob Kwapis, whose election signs are everywhere. The entire Ward has been carpet bombed. He is, quite literally, streets ahead of the competition. And yet this impressive display comes from a candidate who freely admits he is not a politician but a newcomer to elective politics. Bob Kwapis, it is fair to say, was not a household name before the by-election was called (other than in his own household) but now – thanks to the ubiquity of his lawn signs – he is clearly seen by many as the front runner.

The level of sophistication of his campaign so far is remarkable for a municipal election - with some residents even getting robo-calls (or voice-mail as we used to say).

For someone supposedly unversed in the dark arts of politics he is proving to be quite formidable.

Some of his lawn signs apparently went up without permission and they have come down. But the numbers overall have hardly been dented.

So, can the others catch up?

We are entering a period – leading up to the all-candidates debate on 4 October – when all seven will have to spell out in detail the answers to some disarmingly simple questions.

I shall be exploring these shortly.

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