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When pollsters go after each other.

As you might know if you’re a reader of this blog, I occasionally comment on polls. Today is a slightly different setting. A polling company criticizes and takes to task other “new” polling companies. Ipsos-Reid released a highly unusual statement at their site, where they question those other polling companies science and methods, and caution the news media that use them for a quick headline. A little excerpt:

Some marginal pollsters count on your ignorance and hunger to make the news to peddle an inferior product. Others are using your coverage to “prove” that their untried methodology is the way forward for market research in Canada…Journalists are no mere dupes in this process. We’ve also seen a disturbing trend of late in which questionable polls find their way into an outlet’s coverage because they appear to match an editorial line, or present a counter-intuitive perspective

Interestingly, Ipsos goes after robo-calling, online polling (which I have been leery about for years) as well as “new methodologies”. For the first 2, they say the pollster should be asked for their unweighted results as a comparison. For the last one, they say “new” polling methods should be put on hold until they are tested in conjunction with tried and true results.

I can guess what that last point is referring to. They appear to be going after Abacus, a new polling company that released a poll yesterday that was in direct contrast to other released polls, showing a 9 point PC lead in Ontario. The catch was they got those polling results by having voters rank voter preference on a scale of 1-10 – something never done before – and it was an online panel poll as well. (This poll was released to Sunmedia, and is run by David Coletto, who wrote his thesis paper at the Univ of Calgary with Tom Flanagan, who you all know as Harper’s former adviser).

Ipsos-Reid is not exactly a favourite of mine or others, as you would know from reading in the past, but they make good points.


4 comments to When pollsters go after each other.

  • sunsin

    It puzzles me why anyone would bother. It will do the PCs no good to think that they’re really enjoying a comfortable lead when they aren’t. You’d think that if anyone faked a poll, it would be faked at neck and neck to keep your own people hopeful but hard-working.

    • Polls like this could be used to try and change a developing narrative other polls show. -ie the Conservatives are dropping or stalling, and the Liberals gaining (which 3 other polling companies have shown).

      I feel, for example, that it is no coincidence this AM that David Akin of Sunmedia is hyping on Twitter another Abacus “online” poll that says 60% of Ontarions don’t like the Liberals new Canadian tax credit program

  • SteveV

    It’s a bit of a funny complaint, given NOBODY treated Ipsos with a critical eye despite their less than stellar track record. Remember when EKOS called a Ford landslide, but Ipsos said it was a statistical tie? Ipsos has overstated Conservative support during past federal elections, and yet they have the stones to mention others understating. Last election Ipsos was pretty accurate, but overall, I’d hardly put them at the top of the class, so this WHINING now for the media to scrutinize, “all polls aren’t equal”, it’s sort of laughable.

    I’d also add, Ipsos doesn’t even release their internals publicly, so this call for more scrutiny, “physican heal thy self”. Sure Ipsos, let’s open it all up, let’s let academics pour over your methodology, let’s only have polls released that come with third party stamps of approval, let’s put out every single bit of data into the public arena!!

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