Friday, September 19, 2008

Canada: Polling and the elections

I used to work on doing polling so, I'm always interested in looking at polls especially when it comes to our election season. Those of us who work in politics put a lot of stock in polling. However, those who have also worked in polling and follow them closely see how inaccurate they are. Below is an example of three different polling firms from the same day from

Within the same day the range of the Bloq is 7-8%, Conservatives 36-39%, Green 6-12%, Liberal 24-30% and, NDP 16-18%. Though we get rough estimates in cases such as the Greens and Liberals there are large margins of discrepancy.

The methods of polling are also generally inaccurate. Depending on the poll the question of "Will you vote on October 14th?" isn't asked. The questions asked are usually along the lines of "If the election were today which party would you vote for?" Instead of "Who will you be voting for October 14th?" and allow for undecided voters.

Another major factor is, that most polling uses only home phones. This usually biases questions towards older homeowners as many youth use cell phones instead of a home phone. How they decide on who answer the questions can also skew the survey. Homes of one adult will always be chosen and, where there are multiple people in the home they may not be in political agreement.

Polling is quite unreliable and should be understood as such. I'm not saying do away with them completely, but be aware of the inaccuracies within them.

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Anonymous Toronto real estate agent said...

I think polling can't show much, especially in these days. News are coming too quickly and voters not able to process them so quickly. Opinions are still forming - we have gas problems, Afghanistan, Iraq, US elections, real estate slowdown, health care, Russians - and financial crisis of course, everything pressed in few months (most of it even in few weeks...).
Take care

9:00 a.m.  

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