Monday, February 13, 2012

Dewar poll, the flaws I see

Paul Dewar's campaign has done a large poll of NDP members to see what the voting intention are of the people.   I think this poll is very, very flawed, here is why:

  • The final party membership is not yet set, new sign ups are still coming in.   A smart campaign holds back a lot of their supporters till the last minute so that other campaigns can not phone them as much
  • The poll can not be sure that the sample is a representative sample of the membership and since it can not know that, there is no way to correct the results to reflect the actual party membership.  They weighted based on provinces but nothing else that I can see
  • I see nothing on the Dewar website indicating who did the polling
  • The poll does not state how many respondents did not know who they would vote for - I tired to work backwards from their margin of error calculation to see what their decided vote response rate was, but when I did so, their margin of error numbers do not work out for their stated numbers
  • The poll lists a margin of error, but that only works if the sample is actually representative of the NDP membership as a whole.   They are using a large number of responses as a way to add legitimacy to their results.
  • 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?
  • Finally, this poll was released by one of the campaigns.  Any poll released by a candidate normally is an indication that they results are 'wonky' but show the sort a favourable result for the candidate.  Though the poll has had the result Dewar's campaign wanted, coverage of the campaign.

So here are the headline results:  6,373 calls to 56,522 NDP members

  • Candidate     1st choice  2nd choice  1st + 2nd
  • Thomas Mulcair 25.5        16.7        42.2
  • Peggy Nash     16.8        19.4        36.2
  • Paul Dewar     15.1        21.2        36.3
  • Nathan Cullen  12.8        14.4        27.2
  • Brian Topp     12.7        12.4        25.1
  • Nicki Ashton    9.5        10.7        20.2
  • Martin Singh    4.1         1.8         5.9
  • Romeo Saganash  3.6         3.6         7.2

Where do I start with these results?

I am not sure of the polling dates and they may have happened after Romeo Saganash left the race.  I do not know how to count his results.

The second choice results are suspect because there should be a significant "no second choice" as part of the poll.  Actually the second choice results are meaningless because what is needed is to know how the second choices of supporters of any candidate break out.

The Martin Singh results - they are simply and completely beyond any possible credible belief.  Martin Singh is going to be lucky to break 1%, he is not at 4.1%.

So out of nowhere this poll has Paul Dewar in third, where is that coming from?   BC, the province with the most members, I see no evidence of any sort of strength on the ground.   I do get the sense that Brian Topp is doing well in BC.  I do not see the party heavy weights coming out to back Dewar either.   Could he be signing up tens of thousands of members and winning through that?  I doubt it because I do not see any names among his core campaign team that indicates they can do the mass sign ups needed.

Nathan Cullen ahead of Brian Topp is simply not what is going on out there.   I like Nathan Cullen but there is no team behind him and clearly does not have the financial resources to be doing well in the race.   I will admit it was odd getting a robo-call on his behalf from my friend Corky Evans.

My dead reckoning of the race, and I admit I do not have enough data points to show how I get to this.

  1. Brian Topp - 28%
  2. Thomas Muclair - 28%
  3. Peggy Nash - 20%
  4. Paul Dewar - 13%
  5. Nicki Ashton - 7%
  6. Nathan Cullen - 3%
  7. Martin Singh - 1%

I do not see Peggy Nash getting enough support from the four below her to be able to be on the final ballot.  

This is a closed race and only party members get to vote.  Polling is more or less useless in actually predicting the race because the only thing that really matters is getting new members signed up and then getting them to vote.  

The poll was a very cynical attempt by the Paul Dewar campaign to make up for their lack of support in volunteers and money.   The worst part is that the media has covered it as much as it has.


Anonymous said...

No team behind Cullen?
Where are you living?

His top advisor is Jamey Heath, Jack long time and original strategist.
The campaign has robust social media campaign, second to only Team Nash in measure.
There is also a large ground team in BC.

I would be happy to place a friendly wager that Cullen beats Topp in the race.
If you have done any phone canvassing, you will have a pretty good idea that T0pp is getting much grassroots traction.

Bernard said...

I will take that wager.

Let me point out that Jamey Heath has not been able to get the donations for Nathan Cullen. In 2006 he could not even win the nomination for himself, something that any serious political insider should be able do if they are any sort of organizer.

As I said, I like Nathan Cullen but I see no hope of him doing well in the race.

When you look at the social media aspect, Nathan Cullen does not have a lot of twitter followers, not a lot of facebook fans, certainly not more than an other leadership candidates. None of them are doing well using social media.

Bernard said...

I should have added, tell me who you are and we can put some money on this race

David said...

Hey Bernard --

I got a kick out of you blamed the media/us for buying Dewar's poll (which we didn't I might add) and yet your "dead reckoning" of the numbers is based on ...? Thin air? A hunch? Need to source those numbers out!

Anonymous said...

So, Nathan was had raised 86K in the first quarter of reporting, just behind Dewar and Nash.

He is doing extremely well since then $'s wise. Not trying to insult you, but you honestly have no idea what you speak of.

Nathan has the 2nd most Facebook followers and 3rd most Twitter followers.

Bernard said...

$86k - that is not a serious amount, that is what a person spends on a race to get elected as MP.

I admit my numbers are my pure guess at the moment, I am not claiming them to have the accuracy of a poll. But the poll released today is not only no better, I am certain it is less accurate than my guess. Whoever did the poll has no understanding or background in how to do polling.

Anonymous said...

So, looking at this, who has a "serious" amount of money, based on whatever logic you may be using?

Brian TOPP 304 $156,597
Thomas MULCAIR 621 $145,863
Peggy NASH 347 $108,223
Paul DEWAR 456 $93,931
Nathan CULLEN 442 $86,109

Notice 140 more people donated to Nathan than did Topp.

I think you may need to re-think

Cfournier said...

You are dead wrong about Singh, He has tonnes of support in the Silk community which is about one third of the BC NDP's membership and one tenth of the national membership. I wouldn't be surprised if he polls at 7-9% on the first ballot.