What Just Happened?

The Poll Report: Whole Lotta Polling Goin’ On

Polls. Polls. Polls. The problem with polls is that some of them have results that look suspiciously swayed by the polling company’s desired outcome. Call them push polls or call them propaganda fodder, they get in the way of accuracy.

The companies and agencies that release these polls use all sorts of tricks to rig the results. They hand-pick demographics. They ignore margins for error. Sometimes they just deliberately use unreliable polling methodology. This is why it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into when you consult polls for voting advice — there’s a lot of junk information out there.

It’s a bigger issue than usual this election. Though a lot of Canadian voters choose to ignore polls, they play a huge role in the race to rule Canada. It’s a close race, and lefties, greenies, social democrats, centrists and even old-school red Tories are so desperate to oust Harper that they cling to the poll numbers like they’re the last lifeboat on the Titanic. Voters need to remember to follow quality polls and poll trackers — such as Ipsos, the CBC Poll Tracker and Pollcast, as well as threehundredandeight.com.

Ipsos ranks third in global research firms, and is updated regularly; political brain Éric Grenier is manning CBC’s Poll Tracker and Pollcast, and also helming threehundredeight.com. These are my go-to poll websites.

With that out of the way, where are we at?

According to the CBC Poll Tracker, which combines data from major public opinion polls into a weighted average, as of Aug. 17, the New Democrat Party leads with 32.3 per cent of the popular vote, while the Conservative Party is down 0.8 per cent to 29.3 per cent. Liberals are hanging in at 27.3 per cent.

It’s a tight race and the possibility of a minority government looms strong, with the leading NDP still requiring an additional 49 “projected” seats to take a majority (which requires 170 seats).

There are a total of 338 seats since the new ridings were designated. Liberals stand to take 95 and the Conservatives 120.

That’s if an election were held today.

So what does this mean?

The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not the centre-left will align and form a majority coalition should the Conservatives weasel into a minority government. The Liberals officially denounced a possible coalition between the two governments, but in the event of a Conservative minority win, Ipsos polls report 63 per cent of voters support an NDP-Liberal coalition.

The tight race also has voters discussing strategic voting; which is odd because generally speaking, voters only vote strategically when there’s no chance of their party forming government. Seeing as all three parties are neck and neck, it seems a tad desperate and premature to abandon your principles just yet.

Voters need to realize that in a tight race, it’s important to stick to your guns and vote for the party you believe in. I know it’s scary following your heart sometimes. /Ashley Rankin

Be like me and follow Éric Grenier’s seat projections on CBC’s Pollcast and follow the CBC Poll Tracker online, too. Grenier also has his own site, threehundredeight.com, which provides in-depth poll tracking.

This article has been updated since publication.

2015-08-20