Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mulcair Poll - flawed as well

Thomas Mulcair's campaign has also conducted a poll and shockingly it looks good for Thomas Mulcair!

They had a much smaller sample, 1,105 people, than the Dewar poll.   There is no mention of who did the polling.

This polls flaws:

  • This poll was conducted before the membership has been finalized, this means you are missing tens of thousands of party members that are more likely to vote.
  • There is no way that they could have ensured the sample is representative of NDP members because they do not have enough data about the individuals to correct for over sampling or under sampling.
  • No mention in the poll of how many undecideds and no mention of how many refusals to answer
  • I do not know what the questions are that were asked.   The poll should have been prefaced with whom it was for which will influence the results
  • If the results of the poll had not looked good for Mulcair, they would not have released it
  • This is a poll of the most politically savvy people in the country. People that are members of political parties are maybe 1% of Canadians. These are the people most engaged in the political process and the ones most likely to lie because they understand that a horse race makes it easier to get your supporters to act. In my case, I could have answered the poll because my home was called. I am not a member of the NDP and the poll had no way to screen me out. 
  • NDP members are being flooded with calls. My 14 year old Ben is a member and therefore our house phone is getting between five and ten calls a week. We are not answering most of them. So how does the pollster account for all the refusals of the calls? 

Releasing a positive internal poll is nine times out of ten done by a campaign because they are desperate and looking for any straws to grasp at.  Releasing a poll that is missing a large portion of the people that are likely to be voting is highly misleading so someone is trying to make use of that to tell their story in the best light.   What I take from this is that Thomas Mulcair is scared of what is coming after the memberships are all in.

Headline results

  • Candidate      1st choice   2nd choice
  • Thomas Mulcair  31.1         21.0
  • Peggy Nash      17.5         25.4
  • Brian Topp      14.9         19.7
  • Nathan Cullen   14.2           ?
  • Paul Dewar      13.6         13.7
  • Nicki Ashton     5.3           ?
  • Martin Singh     0.9           ?   

Over at Pundit's Guide, there is more data about the Dewar poll.   In looking over the data what I can see is that the Dewar poll significantly over sampled in Ontario and under sampled in BC.   Almost a third of the respondents in their poll were undecided.  Would we have seen that poll released if the results had show Dewar in fifth like the Mulcair one did?

The Dewar poll feels more and more like a hail Mary pass by the campaign to indicate they are a factor in the race.  It feels like desperation on their part.   The very fact they tried for a very large number of responses says they are trying to convince people of the accuracy of the poll and hope people believe it.

When we compare the two polls, which were conducted at the same time, we find that the results for Thomas Mulcair, Paul Dewar, Brian Topp, Nicki Ashton and Martin Singh are not within the statistical margin of error of a 95% confidence level.   I put that down to the systemic errors within the polling and the impossibility of conducting a meaningful poll in a leadership race.

All that matters in the campaign at the moment is signing up new members.  Any campaign that are putting energy into something else is wasting their energy.   A well run national campaign should see the addition of tens of thousands of new party members.   A serious candidate should be aiming for at least 50,000 sign ups before the close for new members.

So which campaign out there is signing up a thousand people a day at the moment?   The only two campaigns I have seen any evidence of large scale sign ups are Thomas Mulcair and Brian Topp and I am not convinced they are signing up enough people.  From what I can glean it seems to be Topp is leading Mulcair in sign ups.

I have had people tell me from the Nathan Cullen and Paul Dewar campaigns that they are well organized, but I ignore what people from within campaigns tell me, it is all spin.   I am listening to people in BC, Ontario and Saskatchewan that know about the NDP world and asking them what they are hearing.  
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