Dr.Dawg

Poll-dancing

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No doubt Barbara Yaffe’s column this morning—dissing Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and pretending the Liberals are once again in second place—would be seen by her and her collegial in-group as “analysis,” even “punditry.” For the Creationists out there, who have much in common with journos who take such deficient stabs at seriousness, this is why God made bloggers.

I have already noted the odd lacuna in corporate media coverage of the EKOS poll that was conducted at about the same time as the Nanos one that has the journamalists buzzing at the moment.

The EKOS poll was conducted February 21-28. A random sample of 3,699 Canadians aged 18 and over was surveyed. Some technical stuff for the journos: the margin of error is +/-1.6%, 19 times out of 20. In other words, it was a pretty authoritative sondage.

The Nanos survey polled 1,203 Canadians between February 25 and February 29. The margin of error is +/-2.8%, 19 times out of 20. Not bad, but not as reliable as the EKOS poll either.

The Nanos poll, however, essentially reinforces corporate media groupthink. The Liberals are still the real Official Opposition, the fluke-y NDP are the third party and always will be. Nik Nanos himself, Yaffe gleefully reports, pronounces the NDP interim leader a “dud.”

Frank Graves (EKOS), meanwhile, summarizes his findings:

Nearly a year after the election, Stephen Harper’s majority government is well short of its May 2 position and now tied within the margin of error of the leaderless and supposedly floundering NDP. Note that CPC support may well be understated since this poll covers 100 per cent of eligible voters — not just the 60 per cent who will actually show up to vote. Even still, with a two-point lead, it’s highly unlikely the CPC would retain its majority in the remote and hypothetical world of another election. Instead, it would be relegated to opposition with an NDP-led coalition.

The third-place Liberals have improved slightly since their disastrous performance last May.

The Greens are also up, though largely with younger voters who are less likely to vote.

The rebirth of the near-dead Bloc Québécois is significant.

So, NDP and Conservatives in this poll are neck and neck—and the Liberals are well behind, in third-party status, at 21.7%.

Yaffe wields the Nanos poll to affirm that the Liberals are making a strong comeback, while the NDP is allegedly losing ground—the universe, in other words, is about to right itself.

The CTV/Globe/Nanos poll placed governing Conservatives at 35.7 per cent support - where they’ve been for a while. But it reveals a noticeable uptick in Liberal backing, sufficient to put Liberals, at 29.5 per cent, ahead of the official Opposition New Democrats.

The NDP, perceived to be on a roll following the last election, now claims only 25 per cent support, a marked tumble from the 30.6 per cent of the popular vote received last May.

Now, recall that +/-2.8% margin of error. We can see, in fact, that the “tumbling” NDP and the “upticking” Liberals are in fact in a statistical dead heat in this poll (i.e., their margins of error overlap).*

I am not qualified to compare sampling methodologies, even if I were privy to them. So I’m not arguing “for” the Graves poll vs. the Nanos poll. I’m taking exception to journamalists leaping upon polls they like and ignoring ones they don’t. And I’m taking particular exception to false conclusions being drawn from the data. Such as this one:

…That the federal Liberals have surged ahead of the New Democrats breaks down a psychological barrier for the beleaguered Grits, demonstrating for all to see that there’s life in the old jalopy yet.

“Surged ahead?” Good grief, maybe in Barbara Yaffe’s dreams. And, who knows, perhaps even in reality—but that’s not what the Nanos poll shows. And it certainly isn’t what the EKOS poll shows. The only thing showing here, in fact, is more of the same lazy corporate journamalistic bias that substitutes for serious political commentary in this country.

Chin up, my tumbling NDP! There’s life in your new bones yet.

*On the other hand… “Statistical dead heat” is overstating things a tad. Yaffe’s hyperbole notwithstanding, the Nanos poll does show the Liberals statistically ahead. I can only speculate regarding the significant differences between that poll and the EKOS one.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr.Dawg published on March 7, 2012 9:47 AM.

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