Friday, September 19, 2008

Free Press Insiders polls

Is it just me or is the Winnipeg Free Press taking some liberties in the way that it's publishing the results of its Free Press Insiders polls?

The Free Press seems to be portraying the results as if they're representative of voting intentions in Manitoba and in specific Manitoba ridings. However, the poll isn't a random sample of eligible voters; it's a large Internet panel of Free Press readers. As such, the poll results are, at best, only representative of Free Press readers.

If the panelists differ from electors in their voting intentions -- something that's certainly possible given that the panelists are disproportionately Internet-savvy newspaper readers -- then the published numbers aren't indicative of party standings.

Elections Canada has some
very specific rules associated with the publishing of election polls. These include indicating a poll's margin of error and whether the survey was not conducted using recognized statistical methods. I don't see either in the Free Press article.

Clearly, if a margin of error applies to these results, it should be indicated along with a note that riding-by-riding numbers are less robust than the province-wide numbers. If a margin of error doesn't apply because the poll isn't scientific, then that should be made clear in the article.

Even if Elections Canada's requirements were met in an adjoining article I missed, omitting the standard caveats from a presentation of the poll results threatens to mislead the voting public. For those thinking of voting strategically and relying on the Free Press to inform themselves, that's a big problem.

SEPT 26 UPDATE: Accompanying today's Free Press Insider poll results is a cautionary note that the poll results "do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire Winnipeg or Manitoba poplation" along with more information about the sample size and methodology. The inclusion of this information represents a big improvement -- it's clear and allows readers to put the poll results in context.


Johnny said...


Totally agree with the content of your post about the Free Press polls. I suspect that once the parties do some internals in those battlegrounds that they will oome out hard against the Free Press numbers if they see something differnt.

On another note...What the heck is with the NDP campaign in Manitoba this time around? The national team is doing great and we might be able to pick up Churchill but in the city why are we running nobody paper candidates in Winnipeg South Centre? James Allum in 2000 2004 and Mark Wasilwy (sic) were strong candidates and increased the voter there to almost 10000. With another serious camapign by one of those guys we might have been able to swing up to 13,000 with gives us a chance to WIN the seat.

No offense to Rachel Heinrichs, but being a lefty student radical on UMSU is not going to make the seat competitive. I suspect we will get 6000 votes this time around and lose all the ground we gained in this riding.

It sucks, cause I was hoping to have an NDP candidate win in my home riding one day.

johnny said...

Same thing as above in St. B.

Allard should have gone again. With the tight race there he could have sneaked up the middle.

Prairie Topiary said...

I haven't met Rachel before, but it does sound like the NDP got into South-Centre a little late in the game to make a good showing. Anita Neville must be thanking her lucky stars -- with a strong NDP candidate, the Tories might well have had a chance at taking the seat away from her.

Mathieu Allard was a great candidate in St. B, but I understand that, with finishing his masters and family, he has more important priorities right now.

From what I hear, things are looking very good in Churchill. Holding our other three seats shouldn't be a problem.

Anonymous said...

I echo the thoughts about Winnipeg South Centre, the central camapign for the NDP really dropped the ball here. We knew an election was coming since the spring, so we should have recruited someone with a profile to run for us. Nominating a student union person a week and a half into the campaign shows some disorganization. I doubt we could have won the riding this time around, but a strong NDP campaign would have beat Anita and elected a Conservative and if Jack layton is serious about replacing the Liberals as the Official Opp, than it is seats like Winnipeg South Centre that the Libs need to lose.

After a term of a light weight like Kennard, the NDP could have mounted a real campaign to win this seat next time around.

I'm also a little disapointed with Malloway. Judy and Pat are not going to around forever, in fact I suspect that this is Judy's last camapign, so in Elmwood it would have been great to get a high profile youngish NDP'er that could be our Western standard bearer for 10-15 years. Malloway, if and when he is ellected will be as invisable in Ottawa as he was on Broadway for the past 20 years. Not what we need to build the NDP brand back up in Western Canada (Federally).

Thoughts my fellow NDP'ers? Am I wrong on this? Hopefully Niki can win Churchill and give us a young fresh face.

Senalda said...

Interesting to know.