Thursday, December 23, 2010

Do We Want An Election Or Not?

Two polls on whether we want an election, two VERY different results. The divergent titles tell the story, from Angus Reid we get Half of Canadians Want to Hold a Federal Election in 2011 while Ipsos Reid warns Country in no mood for an election.

Strangely, Ipsos finds no fence sitters, or they leave them out- we don't know, because Ipsos doesn't publicly release the questions for their publicly released polls, that everyone publicly draws conclusions from, helping to reshape public opinion. I find it hard to believe that everyone expressed a firm opinion, particularly when Angus Reid finds almost 2 in 10 "aren't sure". This is important, because if you look at the Ipsos poll you are lead to believe that 60% of Canadians don't want an election, when really the number is probably far less, considering they just cite the firm responders. I think this is pure crap, that distorts the numbers, but hey, what do I know, pundits in Ottawa will run with the numbers without these bothersome considerations.

In the Angus Reid poll, we find only 34% don't want an election, a FAR cry from the huge majority found in the Ipsos poll. We all understand differences poll to poll, but when you have a 26% gap, absolutely massive, poll to poll, it begs some questions. Who to believe? Here I would look at past predictive records, which makes this a very easy call from where I sit. There is something instructive with these polls, that being, it is pure laziness to take any individual poll and run with it, form narratives, basically shape newscycles and with it public perception, without some SCRUTINY. People don't just use any source, which is why I am continually amazed that we just lap up every finding, from anybody, no matter the framing, who paid for it, whether or not said pollster is reliable, anything- nope just puke out the numbers and everyone runs with it, only to be stopped in their tracks with the next inevitable counter finding. I also don't like the trend graphs that include everyone equally, because some are better than others, some poll more frequently, some have higher margins of errors, drawing any conclusions is problematic at best.

Do we want an election or not? If I had to pick one, I'd go with Angus Reid. Why? They have a more realistic sample, the "don't know" crowd inclusion gives a better sense of real world views, rather than arbitary omissions which fluff up numbers. I'd add, Angus Reid poses some other questions which show the Conservatives enjoy a marked advantage, so this isn't some partisan consideration, or simply picking to support a personal preference. If one is inclined to take a more neutral position, these polls tell us the public mood isn't absolutely certain, so to say a party risks or doesn't, a speculative game at best.

11 comments:

Jeff Jedras said...

While people will usually answer that question one way or another in a poll, I'm of the firm opinion that most people don't really give a crap.

Steve V said...

That's why the "don't know" should at least be included, to get the best gauge of mood.

All these polls aside, my gut tells me that it has been long enough since the last election that there is little risk for the party that pulls the trigger.

The only caveat to people don't give a crap, is when the Libs threatened after one year, they sure seemed to. Much different now however IMHO...

Marpman said...

The question might be whether Canadian's feel we need an election, rather than whether we want one.
It does make sense from the perspective of whether the country is in the right direction.
If you support Harper, you want the chance for him to form a majority, and from a Liberal supporter perspective, I want the chance to see how Ignatieff will do.
If either are unsuccessful, then I want to see what happens then. Like most Canadians I am tired of the status-quo..things are not particularly effective right now. We have minimal governance, ineffective parliamentary sessions and a leader who continues to lead without the mandate to do so.
So, lets get on with it

Tof KW said...

"We have minimal governance, ineffective parliamentary sessions and a leader who continues to lead without the mandate to do so."

Well, Harper did in fact get a mandate in 2008 to lead Parliament. However the voters also kept him from winning a majority, which indicates they do not trust him to be in full control of government. It is Harper's failure to work well with others that creates the minimal governance and ineffective parliamentary sessions you mentioned.

So if the electorate begins to bitch and complain about our ineffective parliament, they should look to see who exactly is ensuring that is happening.

Jeff Jedras said...

They cared at the time for the moment last year, primarily due to media framing. A few days into an elxn, it would be different.

You're right on the dunno, but even with those numbers it would still understate the don't give a crap factor. Om the yes or no elxn side, I want to know how strongly you feel that, and if it would impact your vote or not.That would give a different picture, imo.

Steve V said...

Agreed. I don't think we have particularly strong feelings.

I'd also like them to start gauging strength of choice, because I'm convinced everyone just chases 20% of the Ontario electorate that change their mind on a whim.

Steve V said...

It is worth noting that EKOS found direction of gov't at 10 year low.

The Mound of Sound said...

I certainly want an election. A good friend of mine, who has been a Tory insider for more than 40-years, tells me that Harper won't survive another minority win. The knives are already being honed. It sounds like a lot of Tories have had enough of life in the Ozarks with the hillbillies. Without their feigned unity, the right could become very interesting again.

Steve V said...

Mound

And, there you go... The reason Harper is saying we don't need an election is because he knows that unless he gets a majority, this is it.

I am taking the long view here. I don't fancy our odds of winning, although possible, particularly a coalition scenario. However, if Harper has a diminished mandate, that will set the wheels in motion and we will see fissures in the conservative family, knives, jockeying, all this nonsense that plagues the Liberals right now.

Tof KW said...

Steve V said...
"...the reason Harper is saying we don't need an election is because he knows that unless he gets a majority, this is it."

And at anywhere between 4-8% below his 2008 popularity levels, he isn't very likely to win one this next time around either. And yes regardless of their bravado, some within the CPC (the smarter ones, like Jim Prentice) are starting to think of life post-Harper.

Steve V said...

Another poll, Quebec only, a sides with the Angus Reid poll:

http://www.cyberpresse.ca/actualites/quebec-canada/national/201012/26/01-4355555-les-quebecois-veulent-des-elections.php