A good piece by Darryl Bricker and John Wright of Ipsos Reid, given the huge swings in polling in Ontario. The grit media in Ontario is trying to give mcliar momentum by using dubious polls. The people of Ontario should not be fooled.
Evaluating the Polls: an Open Letter to Ontario’s Journalists
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Toronto, ON – We’ve all seen over the last few days a confusing cacophony of polls on the Ontario election. Depending on what poll you read, McGuinty's Liberals are on a roll, Hudak and the Tories are comfortably ahead, or the Grits and Tories are neck and neck. How can this be? It is because all polls are NOT created equally. And, in spite of what you may assume, pollsters are never held to account for their indiscretions, incompetence and mistakes (there is no “polling police”). 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. Instead of being their own biggest sceptics (which is what our training tells us to be), they've become hucksters selling methodological snake oil. Remember, the term "pollster" is derived from the term "huckster".
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. After all, if a poll is wrong it’s easy to throw the pollster under the bus and walk away with clean hands.
All of this MUST stop. We are distorting our democracy, confusing voters, and destroying what should be a source of truth in election campaigns - the unbiased, truly scientific public opinion poll.
To be clear, this is not about banning media polls during election campaigns. That would just take us back to the old days of backroom boys leaking false polling, and to the practices we see in less stable democracies around the world. What we need is better, more informed reporting of polls. Here are six easy rules to get us started.