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article imageOp-Ed: Polls in Canadian election had correct trends but wrong numbers

By Ken Hanly     Oct 20, 2015 in Politics
Ottawa - The last poll averages from the CBC poll tracker had the trends correct but the magnitude of the increase in support for the Liberals and the decline in support for the NDP was missed.
Few thought the Liberals would end up with a majority government yesterday but that is what happened and with more than a dozen seats to spare. As of now, the Liberals had 184 seats and the Conservatives just 99. The NDP had just 44 seats, a few more than half what had been projected at the last poll tracker. The Liberals went from 34 seats in 2011 to 184 last night a gain of 150 seats. The Conservatives lost 67 and the NDP 59. The Bloc Quebecois gained considerably in Quebec to 10 seats while the Greens retained their one seat.
The final poll tracker averages showed the Liberals at 37.2 percent support, a lead of 6.3 percentage points over the Conservatives at 30.9. The gap had been widening in the last few sets of polls. The NDP had fallen to 21.7 percent support with their trend increasing downward. The trends for both the NDP and the Liberals accelerated in the final poll, just before the election and during voting. The Liberals captured 39.5, of the vote an increase of 2.3 points over the final polls. The NDP fell to 19.7 percent, a further drop of two percentage points. In contrast the polls were close to the Conservative final result that was actually up one point to 31.9.
I thought that some media reports were spinning the Liberal vote to look as if the lead was larger than it was, but as it turns out it was even larger still. I thought some polls might have been underestimating the Conservative vote and also that of the NDP. I was wrong about that too. The NDP was even worse off than the polls suggested and the polls were close to the actual Conservative vote.
What counts is not just the percentage of votes a party received but how that vote is distributed throughout the country. In rural areas of the prairies, the Conservative vote is huge — but that will hardly help them in urban areas. There may have been considerable strategic voting by NDP voters who decided that the best way to ensure Harper was defeated was to vote for the Liberals. In areas such as the Atlantic, this may have helped defeat several popular NDP candidates and elect Liberals.
I had thought that the revelations of the connection of Daniel Gagnier, the former co-chair of the Trudeau campaign with his lobbying for a pipeline company, might have hurt the Trudeau campaign. It obviously did not. I thought as well that the NDP criticism of the TPP near the end of the campaign would help its cause. I was wrong. I thought that Trudeau's rhetoric about change and helping the middle class was rather dull standard rhetoric with echoes of the first Obama campaign. It seems to have worked. Neil MacDonald points out some interesting parallels between Trudeau's and Obama's rhetoric:
Barack Obama: "Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?"
Justin Trudeau: "Canadians are tired of being cynical."
Obama: "When you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Trudeau: "We're asking those who have done well to do a little more for the people who need it."
Obama: "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America."
Trudeau: "Conservatives are not our enemies. They're our neighbours. They want what's best for their country, just like we do."
The TPP deal is probably quite safe under Trudeau. Of course Canadians can feel safe too, since Trudeau supported Harper's draconian anti-liberal anti-terror bill. The Globe and Mail can claim at least half their endorsement was carried out. While the voters did not vote the Conservative Party back into power as they advised, they did manage to force Harper to resign as leader exactly what the Globe endorsed. I wonder if Justin will soon find himself following the politically incorrect tradition of his dad and telling protesters to "fuddle duddle" as shown on the appended video.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Cbc poll tracker, 2015 canadian federal election, Justin trudeau
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