USING OLD POLLS TO SWAY VOTERS

I did a web search the other day which led me to a story on the latest polls, or at least the latest polls to be published in the Globe and Mail. You can imagine my surprise, (not), to find that they published two polls in two consecutive days that gave entirely different information.

On October 19, 2005, in a story written by Brian Laghi, entitled “Liberals Widen Gap in Poll”, the Globe and Mail declared that the Liberal government was heading for a majority government. I haven’t decided yet whether these people are just trying to demoralize conservative voters, or whether they are just plain deceitful. The poll, conducted for the Globe and Mail and CTV, showed the Grits with a commanding 13 point lead, and in fact a 20 point lead in vote rich Ontario. It further states that this is the largest lead they have enjoyed since before Gomery broke. What Mr. Laghi fails to mention is that this poll is old.

At the bottom of the page, it gives the Liberals 38% and the Conservatives 25% of decided voters in their survey. It also states that these are voter intentions on October 14. I have said that this is an old poll. I don’t consider 5 days old to be too old, but I must admit I am a little confused about the whole thing, and here is why.

On October 20, 2005, the very next day, the same newspaper was kind enough to publish another poll. This column was written by Alexander Panetta and proclaims “Liberal lead shrinking, new poll shows.” It claims that a new Decima survey gives the Liberals a mere 5 point advantage, hardly a lead and definitely not anything resembling a majority, should an election be held today.

Now the very important part. It goes on to say that “Decima found a 13-percentage-point lead for the Liberals in a survey at the start of the summer, but said subsequent polls have indicated a declining trend.”

If the Grits had a 13 percent lead at the beginning of summer, which is June 21 in Canada, and subsequent polls have them losing ground ever since, how does the paper explain their earlier proclamation just a day earlier? Either the information given was incorrect, and an error was made, or there was a deliberate attempt to once again cast favor on Liberal support and to deceive and demoralize the opposition. I will give the Globe the benefit of the doubt, and will assume that this was only an error made on the part of a less than careful journalist.

In either case, one would expect an apology or retraction. What are the chances of that happening?