Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

How not to write poll questions, take two

Remember that cracked-out Angus Reid poll? The one showing the Liberals at 22% and the NDP beating them in Québec? Well, they've drilled down in the data a bit more to determine that "two in five Canadians pick Harper as PM," and normally level-headed conservative blogger Greg Staples is crowing over it.

Now, putting aside that Angus Reid must have been smoking something really nice the day they gathered the data for that poll, do you really think "two in five Canadians like our current prime minister" is something to smile about? Come on, even George Bush can achieve that.

What that spin on the poll glosses over is the fact that an awfully large chunk of Canadians still don't want either Harper or Dion. So a poll that makes respondents choose between those two options isn't worth the bits and bytes it's written on.


JG said...

Note further that "two in five" of Canadians disapprove of Harper's performance as PM. It'd be funny if the headline read, "Harper's approval rating marginally exceeds George W. Bush's worst ratings".

I don't really want an election, but if it would disabuse these conservatives of their echo-chamber triumphalism, it would be worth it (even if Harper keeps his minority). What I'd really like to see is an end to the bizarre personality cult surrounding Harper.

JG said...

Another interesting thing - the proportions that approve of Dion and prefer him for PM (and likewise for Harper) are nearly identical, suggesting that those who disapprove of Dion are almost certainly Harper supporters. Yet the number that disapprove of Harper actually roughly equals the number that support him.

I suppose you can read much into this poll, but it's hardly good news for the CPC.

Erik Sorenson said...

Quote: "do you really think "two in five Canadians like our current prime minister" is something to smile about? "

It's certainly a whole lot better than having to grimace about Flipper going from 19% to 17% on the exact same question. Golly, even Dumbo and Mickey Mouse could do better than that.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Yeah, there's a lot of interesting stuff you could do with these polling numbers--but I'd still argue that it would be a waste of time on such a cracked-out poll. I mean, I'd love to believe that the NDP is beating the Liberals in Quebec, but realistically that doesn't seem terribly likely.

I'm confused as to why that poll was released at all, frankly. If I'd been Angus Reid, I would have gone: "hmm...yeah, somebody screwed up."

JG said...

Dion is still an unknown - certainly existing CPC supporters aren't fond of him, much in the way that other partisans don't much like Harper.

By the way, Erik, have you noticed that the moronic nicknames you and others are giving Dion aren't sticking outside the echo chamber? I wonder why...

Erik Sorenson said...

Not enough effort on my part, I guess. I promise to redouble my efforts! Flipper, Princess, Steffi, Gecko, Dr, DoLittle, the Doormat, Weenie, the Whimperer ... whatever Dion is called, will be proud of me.

James Bow said...

Erik, this is why good people hate politics.

Jacques Beau Vert said...

Polls are difficult. I was part of that poll - I choose Harper, currently, as the best to be PM out of Harper/Dion/Layton/May(/Duceppe). While I was aggravated by Harper in Opposition, I find he's lost the Angry Persona in the PMO, and I'm quite satisfied/content with him these days.

However, I generally vote based on local candidates, and we don't vote directly for PM. So while I selected Harper in that poll, I could end up voting Green or NDP or Tory - we'll see.