Saturday, May 14, 2005


Which Polls Are Right?

Today's Ipsos-Reid Poll Ipsos-Reid Poll has resulted in huge headlines about the Liberal support 'plummeting' after rebounding the previous week. (Remember our disbelief last week when the Liberals appeared to be recovering?) Actually, it appears that the so-called 'recovery' was more likely a figment of Ipsos-Reid's imagination. Compare the recent poll results Poll Results and you'll notice that 3 pollsters - Ipsos-Reid, SES Research and Decima all reported increases in Liberal support between May 6th and 11th. However, the poll done by Strategic Counsel didn't show any increase. In particular, the 10 percent difference on the same day (May 11th) between the Strategic Counsel and Decima polls is far more than the normal margin of error (2-3%) and in hindsight Decima's is by far the more suspect. Were they trying to swing a new contract with Canwest Global? Do they poll too much in GTA? Are they incompetent? Who knows? And yet they got Canadians up in arms and provided the Liberals with apparently undeserved reassurances. The Decima poll undoubtedly had an effect on the strategies of the various political parties.
Polling is by definition an imprecise science. But polling has for better or worse, become an integral part of our democratic process and these companies bear a tremendous responsibility to be above reproach in every respect. For this reason, they must shoulder some of the criticism of bias that's so often directed at the MSM when they fall short - regardless of the explanation.


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