August 28, 2015

Learn how to read election polls in five minutes

Brian LilleyRebel Co-Founder
 

As a long time political and campaign reporter, I've had to learn interpret all the sometimes contradictory polls that we're inundated with during every election campaign.

Different methodology makes some polls more reliable than others.

Don't take any polls at face value. You have to dig deeper, below the headlines, to determine how useful they are.

(Always remember, for example, that regional differences will skew national results.)

So let's look at the latest polls about the Canadian federal election:

Is the NDP really in the lead?

Who has the all important "path to victory"?

Watch and I'll walk you through the results.



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Comments
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commented 2015-09-18 01:00:47 -0400
It is no wonder the rest of Us get tired of Quebec.. they are so tribal… For years they were all liberal… then The BQ was the big boy… now they are all NDP….not sure why they dislike the Cons they give more to Quebec than anyone.
commented 2015-08-31 15:37:07 -0400
The only ones I pay attention to are anything over a 1500 sample. Small samples are practically useless. Since the CPC vote is highly committed, very unscientifically I moved 2 points off the NDP, giving 1 each to the Grits and CPC. Doing that in August and using the larger polls it is pretty much a 3 way tie. Depending on the poll there is a large number of undecided, about 12%. Capturing this 12% will yield the winner. What will matter in the end of course will be the polls in the last month, when most Canadians finally pay attention.
commented 2015-08-31 02:51:40 -0400
What you also have to look at is who paid for the poll. Nowadays pollsters have enough information in their database that they can skew results however they want by calling numbers they know in the past have supported the customer they are calling for.
commented 2015-08-30 20:59:55 -0400
Jimmy – Ooooohh!! Make sure to video tape that and post it here for us all !! What great fun !!

Sorry, though, fellas, Environment Canada has forecast a milder than usual winter for Ontario due to the prevarications of Her Majesty, El Nino.
commented 2015-08-30 13:25:31 -0400
Jimmy, why in the hell would that be an important thing anyway? Or are you just trying to stir the cauldron again?
commented 2015-08-30 09:53:30 -0400
I’m ‘on the lists’ so I get called by pollsters quite frequently. All too frequently [I ought to keep track] it quickly becomes obvious that the pollster is fishing for certain kinds of answers, and that the poll is slanted right off the bat. I seriously question what good polling data really is under these circumstances. Does anybody keep track of what kind of polls, or what pollsters are consistently correct in their findings, year after year, election after election? The data shouldn’t be that hard to find.

Personally I regard public polls as misleading and manipulative, and harmful to the voting process. How many voters are swayed, not by convictions, not by history or debates or independent views, but by the kind of horseracing stats and attitude the polls feed? If I believed in banning things, I’d ban publication of polling data…I’d even investigate and prosecute ‘leaks’ of polling info.
commented 2015-08-29 22:51:06 -0400
Peter,

I should be OK. It’s usually mild/refreshingly cool even well into December. Doesn’t really start snowing until January.
commented 2015-08-29 18:33:36 -0400
“You might want to consider doing that before winter sets in. Could be uncomfortable otherwise.” I would add. VERY UNCOMFORTABLE! My friends in TO tell me they would love to see some of that “Global Warming, sorry Climate Change” that the lefties keep wailing about instead of the brutally cold winters they have been experiencing. Wynne’s policies on energy/electricity have driven up the cost of heating their home substantially and they are struggling!
commented 2015-08-29 15:19:16 -0400
Jimmy said, “Peter, If Harper is still Prime Minister – I will take my clothes off in public and chain myself to a tree in protest.”

You might want to consider doing that before winter sets in. Could be uncomfortable otherwise.
commented 2015-08-29 13:19:52 -0400
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commented 2015-08-28 23:47:13 -0400
Peter,

If Harper is still Prime Minister – I will take my clothes off in public and chain myself to a tree in protest.
commented 2015-08-28 22:37:44 -0400
I think CW is right that September polls will show quite a shift.

Lots can happen before 19 October, don’t forget. Life is a game of snakes and ladders. You can’t control the hand you’re dealt, only how you play it.

But despite who wins the election, we will all be okay. Canada will be okay. Our system of government may not be perfect but it takes time to change laws and society so, short of an invasion and/or enemy coup, one term by the opposition – worse-case scenario – would not destroy us.

No election day suicides, okay, rebels? And yes, that includes you, Liberals. :-)
commented 2015-08-28 22:30:07 -0400
Glenn Craig – Don’t forget the cranky old women who answer the phone and tell the pollster what to do with his/her poll. We chicks got the vote now too, ya know !!
commented 2015-08-28 19:17:56 -0400
And what if the Conservative talk office, Jimmy?

Will post a comment on this website eating crow?
commented 2015-08-28 18:02:25 -0400
Good analysis Brian. We are sunk as a country if the NDP win. Great to hear you on CFRA. Just came back from NL where the conservatives are toast provincially.
commented 2015-08-28 17:31:11 -0400
I can’t wait to see people here saying – what the hell happened!!! Canada is doomed!!!!

The mocking that liberals will do on conservatives will be EPIC!
commented 2015-08-28 17:26:23 -0400
“This is the kind of job that Muslims would be drawn to.” I wonder how many calls are lost when the opening phrase is “Allah Akbar”!
commented 2015-08-28 16:48:47 -0400
A lot depends on the politics of the Pollsters, the people who pick up the phone and ask the questions. This is the kind of job that Muslims would be drawn to. Muslims hope for a weak Canada, Trudeau and Mulcair are both experts on weakness. That is just fine, for the Muslims.
commented 2015-08-28 16:38:32 -0400
I said this before…I will say it again…the pollsters never factor in that the ones who say “fuck off” and hang up are the cranky old white men who are going to vote tory.
commented 2015-08-28 14:55:21 -0400
Translation – please God, don’t let the polls be right and Harper loses.
commented 2015-08-28 14:16:15 -0400
@ Adam Rule
So if voting is futile, then what is your suggestion?
commented 2015-08-28 13:57:11 -0400
“Quebec really has to start joining the rest of Canada” Quebec is not interested in “joining” the rest of Canada. Quebec is only interested in how much benefits/monies they can extract from the other Provinces and the Federal Gov’t!
commented 2015-08-28 13:51:21 -0400
My prediction:
Atlantic Canada : Liberals first, NDP second Conservative third.
Quebec is a 4 way split, NDP will be down but will lead. the Bloc second, Liberals third, Cons forth.
Ontario, because of Wynne’s influence on Trudeau: Conservatives sweep with gains inside Toronto, , NDP second, Liberals third
Across the west: Conservative sweep, NDP second, Liberal third.
BC: NDP first, Conservatives second, Liberals third

Result: Conservative majority, weakened NDP opposition, Liberals and Bloc tied, Greens gone completely.
commented 2015-08-28 13:49:15 -0400
The bias of a poll can be determined by the questions asked, how they’re asked, and in what order. Remember, in the last B.C. Provincial Election, pollsters were predicting a landslide victory for the NDP! Look how that turned out! The only poll that really counts is on election day.
commented 2015-08-28 13:37:02 -0400
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commented 2015-08-28 13:18:34 -0400
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