Thursday, February 11, 2010

When Pollsters Attack

I have had just about enough of nouveau media celebrity Frank Graves, EKOS kingpin and suddenly a frequent correspondent on Canadian televised media, and pollster of choice for the Globe and Mail and the CBC. Do you think something is wrong when the king of all outliers is now drawing conclusions about the emotions of Conservative voters based on erroneous polling that favours the Green Party more than any other polling firm?

Jane Taber at the Globe and Kady O'Malley at the CBC are making careers out of dissecting EKOS polls. A new poll was released today with extremely detailed information. I do intend to wade into the math to verify his seat projections against vote projections later, but for the meantime I would like to address the freedom of 2nd choice. A very big deal was made by Frank about voter 2nd choices. Evidently it is a measure of bitter partisan alienation that more than half of Conservative voters don't have a second choice, where as the open minded opposition are more ready, willing, and able to vote for someone else. There is not a lot of loyalty in Liberal ranks, with 74% ready to jump ship at a moment's notice. However, Jane of the Jungle draws a different conclusion.

And he has found some underlying troubles for the Conservatives – only 9.3 per cent of respondents picked the Tories as their second choice compared to 16.6 per cent for the Liberals.
What's interesting about that result is that 18% of Liberal voters list the Tories as their 2nd choice, as do 14.5% of Dippers. Heck, even 10% each of the Greens and Bloc list the Tories as their second choice. So how does he drag the national 2nd choice number down to 9.3%? The only way that is possible is if you include existing Tory voters in the national numbers, and obviously people who already vote Tory don't list the Conservative party as their 2nd choice. It should be noted that the Tories received almost 2 million more votes than the Liberals in the last federal election. And Mr.Ekos then extrapolates the following conclusion.

This poll also examined the question of voters’ second choices among the parties. Interestingly, a majority of Conservative supporters said they had no second choice – a measure of the alienation these voters feel towards the opposition parties.

Although most opposition party supporters were able to express a second choice, relatively few pick the Conservative Party – more evidence of political polarization among the electorate. Liberal and NDP supporters were most likely to choose each other’s party as their second choice. Bloc Québécois supporters favour the NDP and the Greens over the Liberals, and in last place, the Conservatives.


  1. According to EKOS numbers, the Tories have lost over 100,000 votes to the Green Party in BC alone.

  2. True Conservatives, would NEVER vote Green but I'll tell you what true Conservatives will do, they will fudge their answers to the pollsters on a regular basis. It's a game and we love to push the envelope to see if the idiots like these people you expose, take the bait....and they never fail. It's amazing they aren't in full cardiac arrest with their hyper partisan giddiness.

    They have absolutely NO READ on Western Canada, none!

  3. It was quite revealing how Graves dismissed the rather inconvenient part of his poll where 46% prefer spending cuts as a means to tackle the deficit. He suggested a more leading question like "would you prefer spending cuts to health care and education" would provide a better result. How greasy is that?

  4. HA! I got polled by Nanos recently, and was asked who my top two parties would be. I immediately said Conservative for number one, and then paused thinking about my second choice, the pollster helpfully said, "so you don't have a second choice", to which I answered the "greens". So he was encouraging me NOT to have a second choice. I wonder how not having a second choice affects their calculations.

    Of course I would never vote for the "greens" but it was a good place to park my second vote. Which leads to the question, who gets two votes in an election? I can't ever remember being given two choices for my MP, so why do polling companies ask that question?

    Statistically second place does not matter.

  5. i don't know but his seat projections are all over the place and i don't even feel there very accurate anyways . so i'm not that concerned with them . the fact that even the liberal favoured cbc's polls have the cpc back ahead has to be good news . and bad news for liberals as no one has them ahead and even during the wrose of prorogation they couldn't come up with a lead

  6. I am working his regional and municipal numbers into my spreadsheet. At 11.3% nationally that would be an INCREASE of 614,308 votes for the Green Party. Nice pull.

  7. Iceman, I applaud you for your attempt to write a book about the CBC, but I would actually be more interested in a book about polling.

    I hope you don't stop blogging about polls because I find the analysis invaluable.

  8. Wow, his BC numbers are right out to lunch! This has the Tories down 253,739 votes (14%) province wide, but only down 72,377 (8%) in Vancouver. Nearly half of this province's votes are in Greater Vancouver. Therefore the Tories would have had to lose 181,362 votes of their 427,778 in the interior and on the island for the BC numbers to compute. That's over 40%.

    Again, I use 2008 when voters last physically voted as my baseline.

  9. In the last few elections, it's been getting tougher and tougher to knock off incumbent MPs. That makes sense, as obviously the incumbents have many advantages.

    During this prorogue, our incumbents have been free to work their constituency. Meanwhile, some of the Libs have been wasting their time, standing behind Iggy at scrums, and holding useless round-tables.

    I certainly feel confident that Harper has got the Big Blue machine firing on all cylinders, ready for whatever the coalition of losers has in mind. Meanwhile, Libs face the prospect of going into battle behind their rookie, with no coherent, consistent narrative, and a hodgepodge of fuzzy, uncosted "policies".

  10. Dang it, lost my post hit wrong button!

    The CPC have the best demographics with the groups who actually show up to vote.

    Seat prediction without an actual campaign is funny. Campaigns matter. BM destroyed John Turner on stage. Kim Campbell imploded with the negative ads.
    Martin ran a bad campaign, Dion repeated the same mistakes.
    A ground team makes a difference. Will the Ontario and Quebec premiers risk going against Harper?
    I think it is easier to have a CPC in Ottawa for Ontario and Quebec as they have a willing partner. If both levels were Liberals the province would be ignored.

  11. Frank Graves donated to the Conservatives in 2006. If anything Graves is Conservative.

  12. Frank Graves is a Conservative? Forget the conflict of interest pollsters making political donations, I can neither confirm or deny who he donated money to in 2006. I am just running his numbers through the matrix. Perhaps he is jaded because he was expecting government contracts for his donations that he never received.

    And gather together all the "outlier" polls, and it is EKOS with the greatest frequency. If the error rates truly were random, there would be a more even distribution of the outliers among the various firms.

    Thank you for your contribution Scott Ross.

  13. Right after your visit Scott Ross, I noticed that raising taxes received its second vote...

  14. Haha, yeah I did that just to mess with your poll. Hey I don't hide that I'm a Liberal...

  15. As a Conservative in BC, I do believe we are in real trouble here. EKOS' BC poll numbers do not surprise me a bit. While I live in the southern suburbs of the GVRD, I have many Conservative friends in the Southern Interior and they are furious with the CPC over the HST, the deficit, out of control spending, the growing size and excessive pay and pensions for the bureaucracy, and the lack of broad based tax cuts. Many feel Harper has abandoned conservative principles to try and get Ontario liberal votes. It doesn't surprise me that many BC Conservatives are telling pollsters they will vote Green as a protest vote out of their anger with the CPC. Whether they actually follow through and do so in an election is another matter.

    It will only get worse for the CPC as the HST implementation date approaches on July 1, 2010. Harper had better bring in a budget that dramatically slashes spending and the bureaucracy and provides some income tax relief while still reducing the deficit. If he brings in another Liberal/Keynesian budget like last year's, there will be real trouble for him in the West and BC in particular. This discontent is serious. I have already heard people talking about a rebirth of the Reform/Alliance or a federal Wildrose type party for the West - even if it means a Liberal minority government. If Harper thinks he can keep moving to the centre left because the conservative base has no where else go, he will be courting disaster for himself and the CPC.

    And if you don't beleive me on this, just look at the fundraising numbers just released for the CPC for the 4th quarter of 2009. The amount of donations is down to $4.9 million from $6.3 million in the same quarter last year - or 23%. The number of donors is down to 40,000 from 49,000 for the same quarter last year - or 18%. Members are withholding their money because they are not happy with the direction of the CPC.

  16. Anonymous, do your friends realize that the Prime Minister gave Gordon Campbell the option of not adding new tax to goods previously exempt from the PST, and Gordy declined? I have been against the HST from the start, but the PMO gave Campbell an out from adding new taxes to new goods and services. Gordy said no, he needs the money. The carbon tax and tripling of the parking taxes are not enough to pay for all his projects.

    Also, if your friends expect the Liberals to cut taxes, you had better slap them across the face and tell them to wake up. The Liberals are the ones talking about raising taxes.

    I have heard in the past, beware of callers/messangers who begin their statements with "as a Conservative" (especially when they are anonymous).

    Thank you for your contribution.

  17. Ha! Mr Anonymous' comment came from the United States of America, but the 4 "comment form" page views (before, during, and after) came from different American IP addresses, and smudged right in between them all is a hit from my old friend Dupmar from Etobicoke.

    C is for "cookie", that's good enough for me!

  18. Anon@11:29pm, ordinary, severely normal Canadians don't approach or connect to politics in the way that you just described. If the EKOS numbers are accurate (and I doubt they are), the likely reasons for the drop in CPC support probably has more to do with media hype over Copenhagen, Afghan detainees, and prorogation.

  19. Sounds like someone's been playing with proxies. Silly little left-tard, Trix are for kids.

  20. I have a question re the "second choice".

    Is it possible that the "second choice" is factored into the final tally and because Tories have fewer second choices, their numbers are showing an inordinate drop while the others, who do have second choices are shown rising.

    Is this a way to manipulate polls?

    My Stats 101 25 years ago doesn't allow me to wrap my head around that - lol!

    Thanks for the analysis - and yes, keep it up, it makes us breath a sigh of relief to find out that things aren't as bad as the media make them out to be - talk about driving public opinion, huh!