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Claire Hoy Slams Pollsters...


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Basically, Graves can't separate his own bias from his so-called "scientific research"...

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I'm no pollster worshipper

By Claire Hoy

TORONTO--As somebody who has not worshipped at the shrine of public opinion pollsters, your correspondent was pleased upon reading three recent columns by nationally-known writers questioning the wisdom of believing everything a pollster says.

In The Toronto Star, both Ottawa columnist Chantal Hébert and freelancer Rick Anderson, former campaign director of the Reform Party, and in the National Post, Edmonton Journal columnist Lorne Gunter, all took strong exception to the latest anti-Alliance ramblings of Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research Associates.

While it happens to be Graves this time, it could be any pollster. The notion that they are non-partisan "scientists" dealing with just-the-fact-ma'm, is absurd, even worse than believing judges have no personal axes to grind.

Yet despite tons of evidence to the contrary, the media for years has been far too willing to accept what has been deemed to be an almost omnipotent wisdom possessed by pollsters. Not only are they normally portrayed as the ultimate authorities on what people are thinking at the moment -- a vision which conveniently overlooks numerous built-in shortcomings of polling as an "art" -- but they have even been elevated as seers of what the future holds, a future which, obviously, they have not even polled, and are no better equipped than anybody else to predict.

But back to Graves. His latest EKOS poll puts the Alliance at 11 per cent support nationally, a result which prompted Graves to tell CanWest News Services that, "The Alliance is in serious trouble. I believe they have no chance of contending seriously on the national stage in the next election and I believe they will be very hard pressed to achieve opposition status."

Why? Well, for one thing says Graves, Alliance Leader Stephen Harper just "ain't connecting" with voters "he seems like a kind of grumpy young man."

How does Graves know this? Did he get this take on Harper from "scientific" polling? Ah, no. Instead, it's just Graves the pollster -- once again -- projecting his own view of Harper. He is, of course, entitled to his view. What he isn't entitled to, however, or at least what the media should not do, is report his personal views as if they had a scientific basis.

Graves -- like most pollsters -- has often been completely wrong in his predictions, but as Anderson wrote in his Star column, after listing a host of Graves' poor prognostications about the Reform/Alliance (not to mention the Mike Harris Tories in Ontario), it's not just the iffy record of Graves, since he "is not alone in such (poor) forecasts," it might be a good idea if the media began reporting on the track record of pollsters rather than simply accepting their latest findings and reporting them without further comment. Amen to that.

Graves was way off on Alliance/Reform in both the 2000 and 1997 elections. Alliance MP Dale Johnston wrote that, "Given that Ekos did more than $21-million worth of federal government business in the past five years, maybe it's just wishful thinking for Graves to hope that the Alliance will disappear." Maybe. Maybe not. But things of that nature, along with the track records, are worth reporting on all pollsters. Yet they hardly ever are. Why not?

As for his specific predictions that the Tories have a better chance of forming the official opposition than the Alliance, Hébert does a masterful job of pointing out that the notion "is handicapped by an Olympian leap in logic." Even if his figures are correct, she writes, "with their [Tory] support spread a lot more thinly than the Alliance's, the Tories could win more votes in the next election and still emerge with fewer seats than the 15 they now hold."

Hébert is not arguing that the Alliance is doing well. She is simply using Graves' own regional breakdowns to demonstrate the fact that he's speaking through his hat. His own numbers show that Alberta and the Prairies, heartland for the Alliance, are still their strongest regions -- and the Liberals' weakest -- while in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, two regions where the Tories are stronger than the Alliance, the Liberals are strong.

Gunter uses the same regional breakdown to show the absurdity of Graves' predictions, characterizing his "gushing predictions of Tory success" as "more evidence of -- [his] inability to de-link his personal political views from the polling done by Ekos."

Let us hope that such critical reportage of our hitherto sainted pollsters will become standard media fare. It's about time.

The Hill Times

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Claire Hoy is one of the few truly conservative commentators in Canada. (Along with Don Cherry)

If you want to know more about conservatism you can learn a lot about it from Mr. Hoy. Although I obviously don't agree with him on everything, he was always my favourite on Michael Coren's show- back when I used to watch it.

Claire Hoy is a good example of why conservatism usually beats modern Leftism on the merits of the arguments. And this article is a classic example of it. Frank Graves and his ilk will keep on trying to sell us a bill of goods. Claire Hoy and his will keep on trying to debunk it.

I think its kind of a shame their aren't more conservatives in the public eye like Mr. Hoy. Well, maybe someone will come along and provide conservatism with more public acceptance in this country - or at least bring it out in the open. In the States, there was really no one before Rush Limbaugh entered the scene in the late eighties. (A fact which might dispel the myth that the States has always been home to extrem right-wingism. Before Reagan came along, Republicans were supposed to be moderate - just like Alliance members here are always chastised for apparently not reflecting the moderate Canadian voter. We'll see.)

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As for his specific predictions that the Tories have a better chance of forming the official opposition than the Alliance, Hébert does a masterful job of pointing out that the notion "is handicapped by an Olympian leap in logic." Even if his figures are correct, she writes, "with their [Tory] support spread a lot more thinly than the Alliance's, the Tories could win more votes in the next election and still emerge with fewer seats than the 15 they now hold."

pellaken says this, and nothing,

mrs hoy says this, and its the law

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Actually, it's Mr. Hoy..... and I do agree with you that too much weight is ascribed to the pundits, the vast majority of whom are liberals> (It's a vast LEFT wing conspiracy!)

If people stopped reading their drivel, and thought for themselves, listening to what comes out of polits mouths, instead of falling for spin, there'd never be a Liberal government again.

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I find polls really interesting but typically I rate them just a step above horiscopes. I always try to remember that pollsters are not scientists, researching their field to understand it. Instead they are paid money, by someone with a vested interest, to conduct a poll that will support that interest.

I actually would like to see the report card on the predictions of pollsters along with the end-source of the funding for the poll, included in every poll.

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I am biassed toward the right, and have no shame in admitting it.

IN Canada, however, I dispute your claimn that there is an equal and opposite effect from the right. The Candian media is overwhelmingly liberal. Most of the few "conservatives" left out there have lost the right to call themselves conservatives. (Most) . Many formerly staunch conservatives have watered down their views in exchange for a paycheque signed by the Aspers.

When you get the likes Barbara Yaffe coming out in favour of gay marriage, and gushing over Paul Martin's iminent rise to power, then I don't see how you can claim that the right has much of a voice in the Canadian media, which, for the most part is FIRMLY in the hands of the Liberal Party of Canada.

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Actually just an observation, Kanada Dry. I don't give much faith to the polls, in fact I doubt I've ever made a post on this site with a 'in a recent poll' comment. What I do see, however, is that an CA supporter such as AF or SirSpringer will refer to a poll that 'shows' that support for the CA is growing, Harper is popular, etc. They see what they want to see, and take it as fact, a confirmation of beliefs, you might say. Then there are people like Pell that refers to polls 'showing' that NDP are growing stronger and that the CA are getting weaker, or something to that effect. I would guess that this is what he may want to happen, so he accepts it as accurate. Nothing wrong with doing this, but I think it's more usefull to be critical of polls and other 'proofs' you encounter in politics.

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"Then there are people like Pell that refers to polls 'showing' that NDP are growing stronger and that the CA are getting weaker, or something to that effect. "

HEY

I've been saying, over and over and over and over that all 3 parties, PC, CA, and NDP are at 15% how many times to I need to say it before it sinks in?

you say that I have said the NDP is higher then the alliance, I never did so. I also SAID that even if the PC's had 20%, they may not win any seats. the worst part of the whole thig is that when I say the alliance is at 15%, you guys claim its not, when the alliance's OWN newsletter, puts the party at 15%, along with the PC party and NDP.

enough with this bull, I'm right, and its about time someone reconogized it.

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Lost in Man.

Fair enough.

I don't put too much stock in polls as they will be rendered meaningless once the election campaigns begin and many Canadians once again tune back into federal politics.

However, EKOS consistently undervalues C.A. support so I don't put any stock in their numbers.

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try re-con o gize

imagine...

a hot august day

a gentle breeze blowing through your residence.

you flick on the TV

and bush is talking about bin laden.

"we will get him. we will reconogize the entire area"

you know it'll happen :lol:

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