Alberta Votes Day 11: A Wild Wave Sweeps Across Alberta

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2012 Alberta Election, Alberta Politics, Polls | Leave a comment

Dear Wildrose Party candidates,

It’s time to book a return ticket from Vegas:

While the Wildrose lead ranges from 7 to 17 points on these polls, the trend is clear on all three. Here’s a graph of Alberta polling in 2012, giving pre-writ polls a 2-week half-life, and shrinking that to 2 days within the writ period:

At this point, seat projections are going to be about as accurate as Danielle Smith’s platform costing. Using the 2008 election as the baseline doesn’t make a lot of sense when the Wildrose Party was a completely different entity, unable to crack double digits in most ridings. Toss in the 4-way splits in Edmonton, and it’s hard to get a sense of what the popular vote translates to.

That said, the end result of a double digit Wildrose lead is self-evident. Every poll shows them well ahead in rural Alberta and, thanks to our possibly-soon-to-be-former PC overlords, the electoral map favours rural ridings.

That’s not to say the outcome is inevitable. Smith’s lead will draw attention to her positions, platform, and candidates. But the best case scenario for the PCs at this point is eeking out a win, a far cry from less than two months ago when Redford’s closest advisers let it be known the “current seat total of 67 is merely a base from which to build an even bigger majority”.

Alberta Votes Day 3: Time to bring back Ed?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2012 Alberta Election, Alberta Politics, Polls | Leave a comment

In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for Alison Redford to call the election after a month of wall-to-wall scandal and controversy.

Two more polls have been released today – let’s start with the bad news for Alison Redford.

Leger Marketing confirms the statistical tie we saw in two polls Monday: PC 37%, WRP 34%, ALP 12%, NDP 11%. Keep in mind, Leger had the Tories leading by 37 points in January.

From the bad news, we move to the worse news. The Sun’s Forum poll shows the Wildrose Party leading by 10 points. The tendency when many polls comes out at once is to gravitate to the most salacious results – when the opposite is likely more appropriate. So, as shocking as these numbers are, we’re probably best to look at all four polls that have come out and conclude it’s a dead heat between the PCs and the Wildrosers, with the Liberals and NDP far, far behind.

Which is bad news for Alison Redford – especially if you share my opinion that Danielle Smith is the superior politician, and is likely to “outplay” Redford during the campaign. That’s already apparent from Monday’s ThinkHQ poll which shows Smith’s momentum score at +11 and Redford’s at -20.

The good news for the PCs – if there is any – is that there’s still plenty of time to counter punch. This is going to put a lot of scrutiny on Smith’s team and platform. The analogy I like to use is of Mario Dumont, back when Mario Dumont was still cool. The ADQ was nothing more than a one-man show, and once it looked like he might actually win in 2007, Jean Charest was able to use the prospect of an ADQ government to recover. So warning to fringe Wildrose candidates – start prepping for media calls!

The question, of course, is whether Alison Redford is as deft a politician as Jean Charest. On that question, I have my doubts.

In other polling news, the Alberta Liberals have released their internal numbers. It’s a long survey for a robo-poll so we need to look at the results with caution, but the vote numbers largely match what we’ve seen in the media, so we can likely take the numbers at face value.

Of course, the intent of the release is not to re-enforce bad horse race numbers, but to highlight the party’s platform which tested relatively well. On that score, there’s strong agreement with the ALP’s Health Care and education policies, and their revenue generation plans to increase taxes on the richest Albertans and largest corporations.

Now, the real test of a policy is not so much whether voters agree with it, but whether it moves votes – after all, the most “popular” policy tested is one giving more power to MLAs, but I’m skeptical that will motivate voters. And the results when it comes to moving votes are rather underwhelming – after hearing the entire platform, 36% of respondents are more likely to vote Liberal and 32% are less likely to.

And if all of that wasn’t enough polling data for you, Santos Sez has compiled the fascinating chart above of Alberta election polls over the past four years. Suffice to say, Redford’s recent polling numbers are downright Stelmachian. So much for that honeymoon.

Alberta Votes Day 2: Polls and Prostitutes

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2012 Alberta Election, Alberta Politics, Polls | Leave a comment

We were treated to a pair of Alberta election polls last night – both showing the PCs and Wildrose in a statistical tie. Given previous 2012 polls have shown Redford between 5 and 37 points ahead, this comes as a bit of a shock – though it’s not necessarily bad news for the PC campaign team, as it helps them frame the election as a two party race, and may prompt the media and voters to take a closer look at Smith’s platform and team.

ThinkHQ (March 22-25, n = 1320 online)
PC 36%
WR 33%
NDP 13%
ALP 13%

Ipsos Reid (n = 890 online, March 20-25)
PC 38%
WR 38%
NDP 12%
ALP 11%

I talked about Redford targeting female voters yesterday and these numbers bear that out – the PCs lead by 12 among women, but trail by 8 among men. The Wildrosers hold a 7-8 point lead in Calgary, with the two parties tied in rural Alberta. The PCs still lead in Redmonton but, most surprisingly, the Wildrose Party has jumped to second place. I haven’t seen much media commentary on that point, but that’s really a shocking development that plunges Edmonton into an unpredictable vortex of 3 and 4-way races.

Speaking of unpredictability, who would have thought day 1 of the campaign would feature an attack against the far right wing Wildrose Party for being soft on prostitution? Yet, that’s exactly what happened, when the PCs circulated a Danielle Smith column from 2003, in which she writes about the health, crime, and safety benefits a Calgary red light district would bring with it:

Even worse, one gets the impression that prostitutes are deemed unworthy of the same basic rights to protection the rest of us enjoy.

When a prostitute is raped, beaten or even murdered, her assailant is seldom brought to justice. The book Serial Killers from A-Z contains a section on unsolved multiple murders, a shocking number of which are prostitute slayings. A 2001 study of prostitutes on Vancouver’s East Side, conducted by the Prostitution Alternatives Counselling Education Society, found that police misconduct and violence towards prostitutes is also rampant — allegations include sexual and physical assaults, theft, threats and attempted murder.

Moreover, when a customer refuses to pay for the services he’s received, a prostitute has no recourse to collect on the debt. If she works for a pimp, she has no ability to negotiate wages, benefits, hours of work or working conditions, or even leave the profession. There is no access to treatment for those addicted to drugs. A john has no idea when he picks up a “date” whether she is infected with a venereal disease or HIV.

The moral crusade against prostitution has had devastating unintended consequences. It’s no surprise sex-trade workers are the most vocal advocates for decriminalization. If the status quo is this bad, legalization can’t be worse. Many nations agree.

Redford attacked Smith for taking an “uncaring” and “simplistic” approach to the issue, but when you read the full article, it’s clear Smith’s position is anything but. She studied the issue, considered the health and safety of the individuals involved, and came to a perfectly reasonable conclusion – albeit a politically toxic one.

This won’t be the last time an old article of Smith’s is going to surface – especially if her poll numbers hold. As Michael Ignatieff learned last spring, thoughtful writings get distilled down to damaging soundbites during political campaigns.

The difference, I think, is that Smith appears to be a far more talented politician than Ignatieff, so she’ll stand a better chance at fending off these attacks.

Alberta Poll Soup

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Polls | Leave a comment

The expectation in Alberta is that Alison Redford’s first budget will pass by March 21, with the writ dropped March 26 for an April 23 vote.

As for the expected outcome, the polls are predicting…well…who knows? Five companies (ThinkHQ, Forum, ROI, Abacus, Leger) have released polls in 2012, with the following ranges for each party:

PCs: 34% to 53%
Wildrose: 16% to 30%
Liberals: 11% to 18%
NDP: 13% to 14%

The PC lead is somewhere between 5 points and 37 points, plus or minus a few percent on the margin of error. Sure, we know where the NDP are at, but everything else is a crapshot.

Which shouldn’t be surprising given the three other parties all enter this campaign with rookie leaders. Voters have likely heard of Danielle Smith and know Alison Redford is the Premier, but that’s about all they know.

Toss in the fact that the second place party has basically risen from nothingness over the last two years, and you have the makings of a very unpredictable election, in a province which rarely sees unpredictable election.

The reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Polls | Leave a comment

There’s a lot of excitement in Liberal land over the latest Nanos poll:

CPC 35.6%
Lib 28.1%
NDP 27.3%
Green 3.9%
BQ 3.9%

As much as I’d love to jump up and down and chant “suck it Peter Newman“, the reality is that this poll is essentially meaningless.

We’ve just been through an exhausting few years politically and voters are thinking about hockey and Christmas and the latest Justin Bieber gossip – federal politics is the last thing on their minds.

On top of that, the Liberals are leaderless, the NDP are leaderless, and we’re almost four years away from the next election. The popularity of a Nicole Turmel led NDP is simply not indicative of how popular a Brian Topp or Thomas Mulcair-led NDP is going to be.

So yes, this is great for rallying the troops, and it shows there’s at least some life in the Liberal brand – but it’s by no means a sign that the Liberals are on the road back to power.

“The Tories are not going to win. This campaign is all but finished"

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Ontario Election, Polls | Leave a comment

Those are the words of Ipsos’ John Wright.

If Tim Hudak is worried about a Liberal-NDP coalition, there’s only one way to prevent it at this point – and it’s not by voting PC.

Ipsos (Sep 30 to Oct 3; n = 1200 phone)
Lib 41%
PC 31%
NDP 25%
Green 3%

Nanos (Oct 1 to 3; n = 826 phone)
Lib 38%
PC 33%
NDP 26%
Green 2%

Ekos (Oct 2 to 3; n = 1065 robo dial)
Lib 39%
PC 29%
NDP 25%
Green 6%

Quick! Someone get Dean Del Mastro to run a poll to prove these numbers wrong!

UPDATE: No need for Del Mastro. Angus Reid shows the PCs leading by 3.

Dean Del Mastro: Champion of Democracy and Scientific Polling Methodologies

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Polls | Leave a comment

The biggest fireworks so far in the sleepy Ontario election campaign have not come between the candidates, but between the pollsters. And there’s a new pollster on the block – Dean Del Mastro:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s parliamentary secretary has stepped heavily into the Ontario election for the second time, this time commissioning a 1,000-person poll because he felt a local newspaper underplayed the popularity of the local Progressive Conservative candidate. […]

The Peterborough This Week telephone poll suggested Liberal candidate Jeff Leal had a 45.5-per-cent share of the vote compared to 28 per cent for Progressive Conservative candidate Alan Wilson.

“I was deeply concerned that publishing numbers in the fashion as presented on the cover of a weekly large circulation paper could significantly suppress voter participation,” he said. “The methodology was not released and the responses could have just as easily been provided by six-year-olds as registered voters.” […]

“I dispute that I’m heavily involved in the provincial election, I want people to vote in each and every election,” he said. “When information is published that suggests the election is decided based on flawed methodology it runs contrary to one of my core democratic values which is that people need to exercise their right to vote.”

Yes, whenever a poll that doesn’t “feel” right is published, you can count on Dean Del Mastro to settle the issue. It’s just one of the many things Dean does to help protect democracy in Canada.

So what cutting-edge methodology did Del Mastro use, to ensure that (natoriously pro-Liberal) six-year-olds were not skewing survey results?

Well, he surveyed 1,000 voters over the course of an hour Sunday night…presumably using the exact same push-button polling technology as the Peterborough This Week poll. But what sets Del Mastro’s survey appart are the unbiased questions he posed before asking respondents which candidate they intended to vote for:

1. “Given that jurisdictions like the United States and Europe have invested billions of dollars trying to create green jobs with disappointing results, do you believe that the 7 billion dollar Samsung deal will create 16,000 jobs in Ontario?”

2. “Given that families and seniors are struggling today in Ontario, do you support eliminating HST from energy bills as well as income splitting for families to reduce their provincial tax burden?”

Sadly, Del Mastro did not ask the most important question on the minds of voters – “Given Dalton McGuinty is a poopy head, do you support his secret puppy genocide agenda?“. Sadly, we may never know what the residents of Peterborough think on this burning issue.

So again, thanks to Dean Del Mastro for championing democracy, one demon dialled push poll at a time! I salute you sir.

On Top

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Ontario Election, Polls | Leave a comment

Yes, we all had a good snicker at last week’s Decima poll which showed the Liberals 11 points up in Ontario. But lo and behold, a double dose of polls last night, both showing Dalton McGuinty back on top:

Nanos (Sep 10-11, n = 507 phone)

Lib 38%
PC 35%
NDP 24%
Green 3%

Ipsos (Sep 7-11, n = 800 phone)

Lib 38%
PC 37%
NDP 24%
Green 1%

Sure, we’re only in the third inning, but this is encouraging for the Liberals for reasons beyond the obvious. It will energize the ground troops and, most importantly, will shift the media narrative in McGuinty’s favour. No doubt, had the polls shown Liberals losing ground, we’d have seen stories about a Liberal campaign in turmoil over its controversial immigrant tax credit proposal. Instead, it’s Hudak who will likely be on the hot seat.

We shouldn‘t let polls dictate the narrative, but it’s foolish to think they don’t. For a party down 10 points earlier this year, this buys McGuinty a few days of positive coverage.

Predicting the Unexpected

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Polls, Seat Projections | Leave a comment

I’ll announce the winners from my election pool later this week. One of the questions there asked which polling company’s final poll numbers would hit closest to the mark.

You can browse the numbers here. To pick a winner, I simply added up the difference between their numbers and the results, producing the following:

Angus Reid: 5.2%
Nanos: 5.5%
Ipsos: 6.0%
Decima: 6.4%
Leger: 7.2%
Abacus: 9.0%
Forum: approx 9% (BQ and Green numbers extrapolated)
Ekos: 10.3%
Compass: 14.0%

So congrats to those of you who picked Angus. The top 6 companies on that list were within the margin of error on their numbers, so they too deserve a round of applause.

As for the seat projections, here’s the total seat miss:

Riding by Riding: 52
Calgary Grit: 56
Ekos: 58
Democratic Space: 58
Trendlines: 59
308.com: 98
Election Prediction Project: 118

So a similar performance by all the mathematical models, except for 308 who has already offered a brief post mortem. I will add that my prediction was further off the mark from my projection – I made the same faulty assumptions as the EPP did, assuming strong incumbents could hold their seats.

The largest problem with my projection was the polls it fed off – specifically the low Conservative numbers (which I did foresee as a potential problem). If I plug the actual numbers in, my model projects: CPC 168.8, NDP 94.6, Lib 34.0, Bloc 10.1. The regional splits break down nicely too, except for Quebec where I’m a bit high on the Bloc and low on the NDP.

But this model was supposed to handle pollsters missing the mark. A few of the results fell outside the 95% confidence interval so this is, as Jack Layton would say, a hash tag fail.

I’ll put this one to bed for a bit and start tinkering again over the summer, but I think this speaks to the limitations of any seat projection model. They’re useful tools, but it’s incredibly naive to assume they can predict the total seat count, much less individual riding results.

But that’s ok. If they worked, it would make election nights a bore.

Polls, Projections, Predictions

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Polls, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A round-up of what might, but probably won’t, happen tonight:


Leger: CPC 36%, NDP 31%, Lib 21%, BQ 7%, Green 4%

Angus Reid: CPC 37%, NDP 33%, Lib 19%, BQ 6%, Green 4%

Ipsos: CPC 38%, NDP 33%, Lib 18%, BQ 7%, Green 4%

Nanos: CPC 37%, NDP 32%, Lib 21%, BQ 6%, Green 4%

Ekos: CPC 35%, NDP 31%, Lib 20%, BQ 5%, Green 6%

Decima: CPC 36%, NDP 30%, Lib 19%, BQ 6%, Green 6%

Forum: CPC 35%, NDP 33%, Lib 19%

Abacus: CPC 37%, NDP 32%, Lib 18%, BQ 7%, Green 7%

Compass: CPC 46%, NDP 26%, Lib 17%, BQ 7%, Green 4%


308.com: CPC 143, NDP 78, Lib 60, BQ 27

Riding-by-Riding: CPC 142, NDP 114, Lib 39, BQ 12, Ind 1

Trendlines: CPC 148, NDP 92, Lib 50, BQ 17

Ekos: CPC 138, NDP 113, Lib 41, BQ 15, Green 1

LISPOP: CPC 144, NDP 98, Lib 51, BQ 15

Democratic Space: CPC 155, NDP 86, Lib 47, BQ 20

Calgary Grit (projection): CPC 151.0, NDP 90.9, Lib 46.9, BQ 18.5, Ind 0.6

Calgary Grit (prediction): CPC 146, NDP 83, Lib 55, BQ 22, Green 1, Ind 1

Election Prediction Project: CPC 146, Lib 63, NDP 65, BQ 33, Ind 1

A few of the readers from this blog have made their predictions in this thread – feel free to join them there, or post yours below. The average prediction from ya’ll so far is: CPC 143, NDP 88, Lib 54, BQ 22, Ind 1, Green 0

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