Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Election Prediction ONE

Four things to watch in the next six days. As a Political Scientist I can safely say that the following factors are not being properly accounted for:

1 - The Undecided.

Each poll continually shows that there is at least 15-20% who has not made up their minds. You could look at it two ways: they will not vote for anyone and that is likely true with less than half and the remaining half is in play. Those that are in play are likely to vote for the governing party. Why? Because if after 13 years of governing, four electoral victories and numerous scandals, if you still need a little time to "weigh the options", you aren't comfortable with the alternatives.

2 - The Liberal Embarrassment Factor (The hiding voter).

Jean-Marc Leger of Leger Marketing, who is a good source for Quebec polling - even if he is a separatist, figures that in Quebec the Liberal Party always has a few percentage points in storage. Why? Because Liberal supporters are embarrassed during polling to indicate that they are in fact voting for the red machine in the upcoming election. This is usually a provincial phenomenon; however, he has indicated that it is play here in this federal election.

3 - The Surging NDP, the Courtship and the Runaway Bride

The New Democrats have run a good campaign and have their best platform in twenty years. They have avoided any serious mistakes and Jack has not made any embarrassing, ludicrous statements - see homeless deaths in Toronto in 2004 for an example. Their support, however, is largely being drawn from voters vacationing there, not firm committers.

In the last election, the NDP's vote - particularly in Ontario - collapsed with 36 hours to go before E day. There are signs that this will not happen again, however, I would not bet against it. In fact, many of the NDPs usual supporters are encouraging voters to Think Twice and vote wise. This will not mean increased support for the dippers. It will drive voters to the Liberals. Does this mean that the Canadian Federation of Students is encouraging their members to vote for Liberals in ridings where the NDP doesn't have a chance? Interesting, very interesting.

4 - Polling Methods

All polls show the Conservatives ahead by a safe margin - between 7 and 13 points and I am not suggesting they will lose - however, I am saying that there are flaws in the polling methods in 2006.

Usually polling companies conduct their polls by the random selection of respondents based on national telephone surveys. However, changes in communication technology have thrown a monkey wrench into this process. The telephone has become an imprecise instrument for random probability samples. This is because, at one time, everyone had land telephone lines at their homes or offices. These landlines made it fairly easy to reach the respondents. But now, with call waiting, call display and voice mail, polling by telephone has become much more difficult.

Also, more and more individuals no longer bother with landline telephones at all, but rely solely on their cell phones for communication. Even if the pollsters could reach a cell phone owner (U.S. law, for example, forbids polling companies from calling without consent because the respondent pays for the airtime), since cell phones are portable, pollsters never know if a phone's area code actually reflects where the owner resides plus since cell phone users often pay for airtime - this is no go since who wants to be called by a telemarketer for those precious minutes.
Cell phones also make many potential respondents unreachable. Polling companies can make some adjustments to data to take into consideration cell phone users who tend to be younger and more mobile, but this is not a very exact process.

The primary holders of ONLY cell phone are younger, urban and more affluent individuals who IF they voted would likely vote either NDP or Liberal. It is a BIG if, but a factor to consider none the less.

All and all it should be an interesting lead up to January 23rd.

So...what is your prediction? How many seats for which party?

The best NDP platform in 20 years? Please. People with progressive values but intelligence and realism will continue to ingore the NDP because they refuse to put real thought into there platform. They remain a party that is a coalition of self-serving interest groups and thoughtless socialists.

With all your expertise in PSE, you of all people should demand that they learn the constitution and how federalism works before laying down such policy planks. They show the same disrespect for federalism in their Childcare platform.

And while I support their efforts to get more EI money to go to training, most of the rest of their EI platform is rubbish too. Extending more benefits to seasonal workers is only creating a subsidy for seasonal work. A lot of good would be done for Canada's economy if a large number of seasonal workers instead seeked full time employment in places with labour shortages, like Alberta. Though the workers would have to move, they would end up earning more and the government would have more money to spend on other social programs. Instead the NDP continues to advocate proping up areas of the country whose economy can't support their population. Sometimes you got to be cruel to be kind.

Lastly their trade policy of taxing energy exports to try and gain leverage in softwood lumber, just punishes Alberta and shows very little understanding of the politics causing the softwood lumber duties from the US.

These are but a few examples.

We need a progressive voice in Canada, but by continually playing brokerage politics on the left, the NDP cheapens this voice and disappoints many.

Well... it's hard to say...

All I am saying is that compared to previous platforms (2004 was a train wreck) this one is actual good.

Sure they are weak on training, research and education - everyone except the Liberals are weak and even the Liberals are using the wrong levers on getting money to students.

Sure the NDP doesn't understand the Canadian constitution and federalism, but it is election time and voters want all things from the federal government. They aren't the only party who are trampling on provincial and civic responsibilites.

Do I like the constant nattering about corporate tax cuts. No. All individuals and businesses need to see tax relief - large or small. High-income or low-income.

I do, however, see some merit in their arguement that Canada needs to address infrastructure and training in order to ensure competitiveness and productivity.

I really like their electoral reform package. It would fundamentally change the way this country runs it's elections and would move to clean-up government.

I like their ideas on homecare and the fact that, unlike the Liberals and the Tories, they are actually targetting their monies on childcare and tax credits, to those who need it the most - low-income Canadians.

Finally, unlike the Tories, their plan for transportation makes sense. The idea of tax credit for transit is great, if it is part of an overall strategy. However, when it only addresses one side of the economic equation - demand - it is wrong. The problem with public transit in most major Canadian centres isn't getting riders to take transit, it is making sure there are enough buses, street cars and subway cars to shuttle them here and there.
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