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Byelection Day in Ontario – grading the pollsters polls

Interested political observers and partisans will be looking at today’s by-elections here in Ontario to see what message the voters will be sending the Ontario Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne.

I’ll be interested in the results for more then one reason. We have had 2 polling companies – Forum, and Campaign Research – doing polling in some or all of the ridings, and I will be curious to see which of these 2 were closer to the mark (or if both are). Both of these pollsters used IVR (Interactive Voice Response) technology to get their polling results, so it will be a test of how their demographics and random sample fared.

For example, in Ottawa-South, Campaign Research has their final poll saying the PC’s lead the OLP 42-35 in the riding, with a Margin Of Error of +/- 4.6% (and a warning caveat that Liberal support is traditionally underestimated in this riding), while Forum has this much more of a blowout – PC 52, OLP 36, with an MOE of 4%.

In very basic terms (and this is a simplification of their polls, make no mistake), Campaign Research is saying the PC’s could be as high as 47% (rounding up the MOE to 5%), and as low as 37%, while for the OLP, the range is from 30-40%… therefore still in theory a competitive race going into today’s voting. Forum, on the other hand, has the PC range from 48-56%, the Libs at 32-40%, and are calling this one “in the bag” at their site.

It’ll be geeky stuff like this that will be interesting to me tonight. We’ll see how well these 2 pollsters have done in each riding – a bit trickier perhaps in a by-election, where turnout is uncertain and “Get out the vote” efforts in a traditional low-turnout event by the parties will be very crucial.

It’ll also be a good way to test Threehundredeight.com’s Election Barometer, as well as their turnout model, and I know from chatting with Eric on Twitter he will also have a post-election analysis on Friday on how the polling companies did, and perhaps on how his site’s 2 measures just mentioned stood up.

UPDATE: New article on Threehundredeight’s byelection barometer on the 5 by-elections here.

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