“I’ve always been fond of dogs, and they are the one animal that knows the proper treatment to give to poles.” – From the great John G Diefenbaker 13th Prime Minister of Canada
When we see a political poll being reported in the Main Stream Media, we should take it like a grain of salt. Why? Because they’re generally skewed toward a certain result. The media has an agenda and it’s usually against anything conservative. Polls are not meant to reflect public opinion but are meant to drive public opinion.
During last year’s Presidential election in the US most polls had Hillary Clinton in the lead and predicted she would win. We all know how that turned out. The reason these media polls were so wrong is because they over sampled Democrats and under sampled Republicans and Independents thus the skewed results. The media is the US clearly supported Hillary. Also some of those polls I believe were probably “push polls.” What is a push poll?
A push poll a seemingly unbiased survey that is actually conducted by supporters of a particular candidate that intends to disseminate negative or misleading information about an opponent. Its intent is primarily to distribute propaganda rather than to understand the views and opinions of the public
With Brexit, pollsters got it wrong. The polls consistently showed the remainers were in the lead but the day of the actual referendum, Brits voted to leave the EU.
In Canada the media polls are usually done by Liberal pollsters commissioned by the Liberal media party so of course the polls always favor Liberals over Conservatives. Conservatives are always underestimated come elections day.
Important things to remember about polls:
Margin of error. The lower the margin of error number the more accurate the poll.
Sample size. The fewer people sampled, the less the poll is accurate. Smaller sample sizes usually do not reflect the population at large.
The exact wording of the questions asked. If leading questions are asked, it could be a push poll.
Who are the pollsters actually taking to? Demographics. Are they polling more women than men, maybe older people vs younger people? All that needs to be taken into account when properly reading a poll and trying to get an accurate picture.
Timing. Are pollsters calling during the day? Evening? What days was the poll conducted? Was it on the week days or on the weekend? That plays into who they are going to survey.
Something else to consider is that when someone is polled, are they being honest with the pollster? Some are actually afraid to tell the pollster how they will vote so they will lie.
You have to weigh all these factors when looking at a poll.
There are basically three methods of polling in Canada
Numbers are randomly dialed within a given area code, and a live interviewer is on the other end of the line to conduct the poll. These interviewers follow a precise script to ensure that every call is conducted in the same manner.
Another method also uses the telephone, but instead of a live interviewer the call is automated. These are known as ‘robo-polls’. A recorded script is played, and respondents are asked to punch in their responses using the telephone keypad. Press 1 for Conservative, press 2 for Liberal, etc.
The last method that is becoming increasingly ubiquitous is via the internet. Polling firms assemble a panel of internet users, often numbering in the hundreds of thousands. These panelists can be recruited in various ways, including through internet advertisements and over the telephone.
Once the panel is built, pollsters then survey among the members of that panel, ensuring that those who complete the survey are broadly reflective of the target population.
The most accurate polling in politics is when each party conducts their own internal polls. Yeah, even they could be wrong but still they are the most accurate. They usually poll more voters and ask more direct questions.
So have fun with the polls but don’t take them seriously especially outside of an election cycle. Remember a poll is just a snapshot in time. You know what they say, “the only poll that counts is the one on voting day.”