Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A New Poll from Strategic Counsel is odd...

Strategic Counsel released a new poll today, taken in the same period as the Harris-Decima poll and involving 1000 people. The national numbers look fine:

Liberals - 33%
Conservatives - 32%
New Democrats - 17%
Greens - 13%
Bloc Quebecois - 5%

...except that the Bloc number is oddly low and the Green number is awfully high. And the Quebec numbers show why:

Greens - 26%
Liberals - 24%
Bloc Quebecois - 22%
Conservatives - 17%
New Democrats - 12%

So, apparently, the Greens have had a 22-point surge from the last Strategic Counsel poll from mid-January, while the Bloc has dropped 16-points. This despite recent Harris-Decima and Ipsos-Reid polls showing the Bloc at 40+ and the Greens at around 5%. Are we supposed to believe that the Green Party is now the favourite in Quebec?

Flabbergasted, I shot off an email to Strategic Counsel asking them about this. I'm extremely loathe to include these numbers in the calculation because of this. I'm assuming this is some sort of typo, unless Strategic Counsel was extremely unlucky in its poll of 244 Quebecers.

It is difficult to believe this is just a typo, because clearly the Quebec numbers influenced the national numbers, giving the Bloc the low 5% and the Greens the high 13%. And the report even calculated the change from last time (including the unbelievable +22 for the Greens!). To add insult to injury, the media outlet that ordered the poll, CTV, has posted it on their website, even mentioning the Green surge and Bloc fall.

We'll see how this all plays out. But I am going to have to reduce the reliability rating of Strategic Counsel unless they change or explain their result. Someone at Strategic Counsel saw these numbers and published them anyway. If they didn't realise this was wrong, they don't know what they are doing.


  1. Most polls these days include a disclaimer - accurate within 3-5 % 19 out of 20 times. In other words because we are dealing with very small samples sizes 5 % of the time the results will be meaningless. However there is no scientific way to know which polls are the meaningless ones, although in some cases it may seem pretty obvious.

  2. The Strategic Counsel poll had a 6% margin of error for Quebec. That means the Greens could be as low as 20% - or the highest they've ever polled in any province, ever.

  3. Though this is clearly the 1 time out of 20, as you allude to, you'd think Strategic Counsel would recognise that and point it out, rather than pretend that the Greens are really the favourite party in Quebec.


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