Last week I described and reflected on twenty-four U.S. cities’ experiences with proportional electoral rules in the first half of the last century. That post included brief comment on similar episodes in twenty more Canadian cities.
I reported that Edmonton and Winnipeg had the longest runs with PR-STV. Dennis Pilon pointed out that I got Edmonton wrong (late-night transposition goof). It was Calgary instead. So here is the chart from last week, this time with the Canadian cities:
One interesting thing to note is that all the Canadian cases occur in the West. This is not because PR was absent from the minds of Eastern Canadian change agents. The PR Society serving U.S. constituents was even centered in Toronto for a time!
Put that next to the observation that the early U.S. PR adopters were in Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, and California (i.e., not in the industrial Northeast), and you’ve got a pattern. As with Canada, PR was on the agenda in Northeastern cities like New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston as early as 1893. At least until the mid-century adoptions in New York and Massachusetts, something about being outside the socioeconomic “core” made these places more likely to adopt PR. I suspect it was because their party systems were more volatile than back east, but more on that later.