By Harvey Oberfeld
September 8th, 2015
Sometimes you just have to laugh at how partisan party supporters selectively see the news.
It’s not that long ago that many NDP well-wishers were swearing off political polling after the last BC election saw the almost all the polls predicting an NDP win, but we all know how badly that prediction turned out.
The conclusion: many polls misrepresented true population demographics , left out voters with only cellphones; samples were too small; questions were manipulated; and even designed by media corporate owners so that over-confident DP voters would stay home and allow the Liberals to pull off their victory.
Don’t trust the polls, they proclaimed!
Until now … when almost every poll, this time right across the country, say the NDP is in the lead.
A Globe and Mail poll Friday gave the NDP 31% voters support; the Liberals 30%; and, the Tories 28%. And a Toronto Star poll was evenh better for the NDP, with 36% support; the Liberals 32%’; and the Tories 24%.
THESE polls are true, many confidently proclaim.
I believe they are, but what we must all remember is that, AT BEST, polls capture only the public sentiment at a given moment of any campaign: all it takes is one gaffe or mis-statement; one popular or unpopular policy announcement; some provincial or national event or even international event or just cold feet …. and it can all come tumbling down.
That is NOT the pollsters fault: that is simply keeping it real.
With six weeks to go in a campaign that hasn’t yet reached anywhere close to full steam … a lot can happen between now and Oct 19.
And, as in some many other races and competitions, the front-runner NDP could once more be the most vulnerable.
Call it the cold feet factor: where many people like what they are hearing from NDP leader Tom Mulcair, but fear giving him/party power at the same time; where the Liberals (despite a flawed past) offer a safer, perhaps more comfortable alternative under new leader Justin Trudeau; and, despite the polls, don’t write off Prime Minister Stephen Harper … and that silent majority voting block, who may not say so publicly, but at a time of economic uncertainty and world social unrest will prefer the status quo to major change.
Not to mention important factors that may not adequately show up in leader/party preferential polls: riding boundaries advantages; unequal riding population numbers; higher or lower voter-turnout concentrations in many ridings; and, incumbent familiarity advantages.
I still believe MOST voters will make up their minds in the last two to three weeks of the campaign.
Polls NOW indicate leanings NOW … but don’t bet on them to hold six weeks from now.