Monday, November 26, 2007

Surprise, Surprise

After the rash of polls that showed a tight race between the Liberals and the Conservatives, I was actually waiting for Ipsos-Reid to adjust their polling, lest people breakout in cynical laughter. Still an outlier, but Ipsos has closed the gap:
Liberal leader St├ęphane Dion and his party have narrowed the gap in support among decided voters between them and the leading Conservatives, a new national poll shows.

The recent survey, conducted exclusively by Ipsos Reid for CanWest News Service and Global National, revealed that the spread between the two parties has been reduced from 14 percentage points in early November to 10 points last week.

The poll said that the Tories had dropped to 39% support -- a decline of three percentage points -- while the Liberals had been bumped up one point to 29% of decided voters. The New Democratic Party held steady at 15% support while the Green party went up slightly by one point to eight per cent of the vote.

Ipsos still seems to overstate Tory support, but I see the narrowing gap as pure calculation, to remain somewhat relevant. It's all conjecture of course, but a polling firm risks ridicule if its results are so abnormal, that nobody takes them seriously. In the name of self-interest, is anybody surprised that Ipsos "tinkers" to stay on the margins, as opposed to another reality?

15 comments:

Johnathon said...

Your happy Harper is in majority territory?

SO am I.

Thanks for the post.

Steve V said...

john

When you take off the rose colored glasses, you might see the other polling outfits that suggest NO SUCH THING. Sometimes I think Ipsos' sole purpose, is too provide delusional comfort for Conservatives.

One admission Bricker makes:

"For one reason or the other, the Conservatives are still a tough-sell in Canada," said Mr. Bricker"

Gayle said...

Steve - johnathon is a troll. He spent most of last night over at RT's posting his nonsense.

I suggest you ignore him.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't trust an Ipsos Reid poll that found kids like puppies. They are propaganda not a legitimate polling firm.

It happens in "scientific" studies as well. Fortunately reputable scientific journals only print studies that can be repeated by other labs with the same results. Reputable news organizations should do the sameand not publish or cite Ipsos Reid data. it is manufactured plain and simple and has no validity.

Steve V said...

Thanks :)

Steve V said...

"They are propaganda not a legitimate polling firm."

This may sound radical, but I support an independent verification process for anyone who wants to release a public poll. These polls have impact, and Ipsos tends to get disportionate coverage, probably because of frequency. People can discount the poll, but there is no question they fuel media storylines, and by extension influence public opinion.

Polling outfits should be subject to some scrutiny, otherwise they can project an agenda, in a very devious way.

Gayle said...

On the other hand, since most people do not want a Harper majority, the IR polls may result in fewer votes for Harper.

Anonymous said...

I personally love how the media try to pump up movements of 1 and 3% as legitimate

Anonymous said...

Never fear lefties, there will be a Decima poll along soon enough to warm your cold little hearts.

Steve V said...

"Never fear lefties, there will be a Decima poll along soon enough to warm your cold little hearts."

Or a Strategic Counsel poll, or an SES poll....

Gayle said...

or an election :)

Steve V said...

That too :)

Reality Bites said...

Ipsos gets disproportionate coverage because they poll for Canwest Global - so their results hit Global, National Post, and major papers in most cities. With Strategic Council polling for CTV Globemedia they get equal TV coverage, but far less newspaper coverage. SES polls for SunMedia these days, so gets far less coverage in papers and virtually none on TV. Decima polls for CP, so everyone has access to them.

Of course CPAC and political junkie shows like Duffy and Newman will mention all polls, but mainstream news broadcasts and newspapers tend to bury coverage of the polls they didn't pay for.

Canwest used to use Compas polls, a company that made Ipsos-Reid look like a Liberal Party house organ in comparison. They are also renowned for having produced the only poll in Canadian history that didn't show a majority (or plurality depending on the undecided factor) in favour of same-sex marriage.

As always, anything you need to understand about Canadian politics can be found in the old British sitcoms Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister:

Sir Humphrey: "You know what happens: nice young lady comes up to you. Obviously you want to create a good impression, you don't want to look a fool, do you? So she starts asking you some questions: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the number of young people without jobs?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a lack of discipline in our Comprehensive schools?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think young people welcome some authority and leadership in their lives?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think they respond to a challenge?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Would you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?"

Bernard Woolley: "Oh...well, I suppose I might be."

Sir Humphrey: "Yes or no?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Of course you would, Bernard. After all you told you can't say no to that. So they don't mention the first five questions and they publish the last one."

Bernard Woolley: "Is that really what they do?"

Sir Humphrey: "Well, not the reputable ones no, but there aren't many of those. So alternatively the young lady can get the opposite result."

Bernard Woolley: "How?"

Sir Humphrey: "Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Are you worried about the growth of armaments?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think there is a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms against their will?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"

Bernard Woolley: "Yes"

Sir Humphrey: "There you are, you see Bernard. The perfect balanced sample."

Steve V said...

"Ipsos gets disproportionate coverage because they poll for Canwest Global - so their results hit Global, National Post, and major papers in most cities. With Strategic Council polling for CTV Globemedia they get equal TV coverage, but far less newspaper coverage. SES polls for SunMedia these days, so gets far less coverage in papers and virtually none on TV. Decima polls for CP, so everyone has access to them."

I would just add, that the frequency of the Ipsos polls keeps its findings on the front burner. The trouble with a reputable poll like SES, it is only done quarterly, which means the media focuses on the most recent polling.

Reality Bites said...

Oh, and we should also add that Angus-Reid is not Ipsos-Reid. Angus Reid does two things: they issue alerts about other people's polls, leading some people to report them twice, once as the original, the next time as an Angus Reid poll (this is not a matter of AR claiming credit, just people not reading. OTOH, why do they feel the need?)

They also do internet-only polling of dubious value, as their sample is recruited by advertising with provocative questions. People who CARE about politics are the LAST people who should ever be polled! :)