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Do the mainstream press and public opinion firms favour the BC Liberals over the BC NDP?
  Mar 24, 2009

Two recent polls-one by ROBBINS, a private public opinion polling firm “the most accurate pollster in the World” published March 20, 2009, and another by Ipsos, a French polling firm with offices in Canada, published and discussed predominantly in regular media—provide some insight into how polls can be interpreted and might be used to inappropriately give one (or more) parties an advantage over the other.
The ROBBINS poll essentially gives (leader and party) Gordon Campbell and BC Liberals a 5 per cent lead over the BC New Democrats. However in the ROBBINS poll respondents are distilled through qualifying questions relating to ‘certainty of vote’. In the ROBBINS poll, (29%) of BC Liberal support if “fairly certain to vote”, slightly less sure than the remainder of support which is “certain”. Under those same criteria, the BC New Democrats have only (13%) “certain to vote”.
According to the ROBBINS poll if ONLY “certain” voters are counted the BC Liberals would receive (39.5%) of the overall vote, while the BC New Democrats would receive (43.5%) of the vote.
If the “fairly certain” voters are discounted by (25%) (a reasonable discount based generally on previous data), the BC Liberals would relinquish approximately (03%) of their (43.5%) according to ROBBINS, for a net result of (40.5%) based on this calculation.
If we averaged these three totals (43.5%), (39.5%), and (40.5%), a ROBBINS estimate of BC Liberal support would be (41%).
On the other hand, if the “fairly certain” voters are similarly discounted for the BC New Democrats; they would receive just higher than (37%). BC Liberals (41%), BC New Democrats (37%), a four per cent lead for the BC Liberals.
If the BC Green vote and BC Conservative vote under this ROBBINS poll and other (from historical data) are similarly considered-we would discount 14% for those parties from the 100% total, leaving (86%) remaining for the two main parties-- the BC Liberals and BC New Democrats (The BC Liberals received (46.5%) and BC New Democrats (41%) in the 2005 provincial general election-a total of (87.5%) of the total vote).
If we take the ROBBINS ‘net numbers of (41%) for BC Liberals and (37%) for the BC New Democrats (78% of total), and gross up their collective totals to (86%)—the BC Liberals would receive (45%) and the BC NDP (41%).
In the Ipsos poll published three days after the ROBBINS poll the news headline reads 11% lead for the BC Liberals—who according to this poll have (46%), while the BC New Democrats have (35%). According to the Ipsos poll BC Liberals are (70%) “very likely” to maintain their support, while the BC NDP are (60%).
After factoring in this calculation we would actually see a (14%) lead for the BC Liberals! However the Ipsos poll apparently separated the party labels from the party leaders. The conventional formula is to attach (25%) value to leader support and (75%) to party support. The values for these attached to the two main parties-Carole James (NDP) and Gordon Campbell (BC Liberals) ultimately take 2 percentage point from the BC Liberals and add 2 percentage points to the BC NDP (after factoring both leader negatives and positives).
Based on the 11 point lead offered by Ipsos and featured in the regular news the leader factor would reduce the BC Liberal total to (45%) and increase the BC NDP to (37%). The ROBBINS poll features popular support of just less than (09%) for Jane Sterk and the BC Green. The Ipsos poll has the BC Green support at (15%). We note (unrelated to polling outcomes), that the BC Green party reached a ceiling of around (10%) in public support under leader Adrianne Carr who lost nearly (10%) of support in the 2005 general provincial election.
Regular polling has a historical predilection to inflate Green support. The recent federal election was a crystal clear example of this—ROBBINS more conservative numbers for the federal Greens were revealed as correct by election day results.
If we shaved off (05%) from BC Greens from the Ipsos based on balance of probabilities, we would be left with (95%) of the respondent support from the Ipsos poll. If we grossed up the Ipsos totals for both the BC New Democrats and BC Liberals by (05%) (to increase the overall total from (95%) to (100%)—we would have the BC Liberals at (47%) and the BC New Democrats at (39%).
If on the other hand we allocated the (05%) taken from the BC Greens and allocated (70%) to the BC New Democrats (political logic cuts two ways) and (30%) to the BC Liberals—we would realize (46.5%) for the BC Liberals and (40.5%) for the BC New Democrats—totals very similar to the provincial election in 2005.
At the end of the day after factoring in all of the elements of both polls reasonably we realize that the Ipsos poll actually provides with BC Liberals (46-47%) support and (39-40.5%) to the BC New Democrats on balance a (6.5%) lead for the BC Liberals based on our interpretation of the Ipsos poll—compared with a (04%) lead for the BC Liberals in the ROBBINS poll.
Generally a (6.5%) ‘win’ for the BC Liberals would translate into little change in the number of seats for either party, while the (04%) lead assessed by ROBBINS would mean an extremely close race--.
But what about the (11%) lead the regular press has been talking about since the beginning of the week. Is this a result of selective journalism on the part of the media including the Vancouver Sun, Province and CKNW—or does it suggest that regular polling is used as a public relations tool? Is there any evidence that might provide us with some insight into this latter possibility?
Bear in mind that when Ipsos has come to www.robbinssceresearch.com their search is listed as coming from Winnipeg, Manitoba. When CanWest Global searches ROBBINS, they too are listed as coming from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
You tell me!
Subject: Invitation to Gordon Campbell's nomination
Dear friend,
Please join me on Friday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m. as I join with BC Liberal MLAs and candidates from across the Province for Premier Gordon Campbell's nomination meeting at the Hellenic Community Centre (4500 Arbutus St., Vancouver).
This is the unofficial kick-off for the election campaign, as we try to form a third consecutive majority government.
Ride in with us on a chartered bus... Meet us at 4:45 p.m. at my new campaign office (#8 – 8948 202 St., known as Langley Gardens in Walnut Grove). Reserve your seat on the bus by calling 778-298-2258 or emailing re-electrichcoleman@shaw.ca.
See you there! Rich Coleman BC Liberal Candidate Fort Langley-Aldergrove

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