Friday, January 06, 2006

Leaders Neck & Neck in Poll

In a recent survey of Canadian voters 36% of them when polled felt that Paul Martin was the tallest politician. Close behind at 34% was Jack Layton, and well back was Stephen Harper at just 15%. 7% of voters were undecided at the time the poll was taken.

Accounting for the statistical margin of error, Layton and Martin are dead even at this time. The results are particularly interesting in light of the surge in Layton's number from the last time this question was asked. It represents an increase of almost 25%. This poll is deemed accurate 19 times out of 20. The 20th time, all bets are off.

In another recent poll, more voters would choose to have a beer with Layton than with any of the other major party leaders. When you dig deeper into the numbers, the results get murkier as you account for voters that prefer wine and factor in those that don't drink alcohol at all. Never the less, the poll does provide interesting results for all the parties to analyze. Eagerly anticipated are the results of the next poll which will take a major look at lasagna.

Embracing Surveys

Canadians sure do love their polls. So far in this election about 75 of them have been released. That's two polls a day and that doesn't include all the private polls that are being conducted by each of the political parties.

The media helps fuel this frenzy by commissioning many of them. It seems to help Canadians figure out what everyone else is thinking and ensure that they jump on the right bandwagon. That's part of the problem. How many people are affected by poll results and like sheep go with the crowd?

Influencing Democracy

The problem with polls and statistics is that the results could be subtly or not so subtly manipulated depending on how you phrase the questions and present the results. If you want to influence the election you could conceivably commission enough polls and massage the results to put forth whatever agenda you favor.

Another problem with polls, particularly how they are reported by the media, is that only the national results are presented. The devil is in the details but who has the time for that?

If you do then take a look at these sites:

  • One final poll result. Canadian voters were asked whether they responded to questions asked by pollsters. 63% of them said they did, 29% said under no circumstance do they ever respond to pollsters, and 8% were undecided.

    Election Tracker


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