Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Introducing the CBC Poll Tracker

You know that thing I was saying was in the works? The exciting announcement that I was to make after I returned from vacation? Well, it's here!

ThreeHundredEight.com's federal vote and seat projections are now being hosted by the CBC in its new interactive feature, the Poll Tracker. It has all the data that I had on this site, but rather than present it with static charts, it is now fully interactive. You can compare the current standings to where they were weeks ago, see the regional breakdowns for both seats and vote, browse through all the polls that have been released since the beginning of the year, and more.

And as the election campaign approaches, more features should be added to the Poll Tracker.

I've written a brief introduction on how to use the Poll Tracker here. It's pretty intuitive though. My favourite has to be the regional breakdowns, allowing you to isolate the numbers by party or region, and directly compare them to 2011.

Staying on this site during the campaign will be the riding projections. You can find them here, where they used to be. You can also click on the banner at the top of this page. I have changed how they are presented, which should make them easier to browse through.

I will do the best I can to keep the riding projections up-to-date with the latest projections on the Poll Tracker. Before the campaign starts in earnest, the lag should only be a matter of hours as I get the graphics ready to post on my site. During the campaign itself, however, my schedule is likely to be very hectic, and updating the riding projections may slip down the priority list. Hopefully I will still be able to keep them up-to-date within a day or two.

Because the projections are moving over to the CBC website, posts about federal politics will become less frequent here on ThreeHundredEight.com. But when there is a federal topic that only you junkies could love, I will try to post here.

Of course, when the campaign starts all original posts here on the site will slow to a trickle. My plan is to use ThreeHundredEight.com as a hub for the work I will be doing for the CBC during the campaign: articles, radio interviews, television appearances, and more. I'm already busy! You can still catch me every Wednesday on Power and Politics on CBC News Network and every Saturday on The House on CBC Radio (well, just not this Saturday as the show is 'on location' in Newfoundland and Labrador).

I'll post links to all of that here once the campaign begins (I may also throw in some other interesting links from other websites as well), so ThreeHundredEight.com can still be your go-to place for all things federal polls. The only difference is that once you go-to here, you'll then go-to somewhere on the CBC's website or elsewhere.

I'm really excited about this new feature and I hope you all will be as well. Please post your comments, questions, and feedback in the comments section below. Any problems or suggestions you have I will share with the CBC interactive team. Speaking of which, thanks go to Oscar MacDonald, Alisa Mamak, Adam Foord, Spencer Walsh, and Scott Utting and the rest of the interactive team for their fantastic work over the last few months to get this ready.

I think we're now all set for the campaign!

100 comments:

  1. Wow Eric those interactive graphics are really cool. Will threehundredeight.com still be the 'hub' for provincial politics and by-elections? Speaking of which, there were 3 Provincial by-elections last night in Nova Scotia: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/nova-scotia-byelection-sees-2-seats-go-to-liberals-1-to-ndp-1.3151558

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, I'll still be posting about provincial stuff here until the campaign begins.

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  2. There's nothing like accidentally reading the first comment on a CBC story to make one appreciate the quality of the discussion we get here.

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    1. I haven't checked yet, but that is my primary concern about moving this stuff to CBC.ca. The commenters there are YouTube-quality.

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    2. There will still be the opportunity to comment here!

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  3. Doesn't work for me, all I can see is empty graphs. Tried on two different browsers .

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    1. It can take a second to load up the graphs. But can you give me more details of the problem you're having, and the browsers you used?

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    2. I had to load the page twice, but then it worked.

      I like the interactive charts. It's a bit weird to have to go somewhere else on the site to find your written analysis, and I dislike the elements of the page that undoubtedly are there to make it more mobile-friendly (I loathe mobile-friendliness), but overall it still provides the information I want, so I can only congratulate you on your success, Éric.

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    3. Thanks - they do have links to my latest articles right there to make navigation to my analysis less complicated.

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  4. Why do you have Labrador as CPC? It was quite close in 2011 with Liberals at 30% in Atlantic and an Abacus poll showed the CPC at 9% in Labrador.

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    1. Labrador's projection is based on where the polls were at the time of the by-election, compared to now. This is a bit of an anomaly, though, I'll admit. If we get a poll for Labrador closer to the election that continues to show a big difference I will incorporate it into the projection (I do include riding-level polls during a campaign, but at this stage it seems to far out to do so).

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  5. Have you factored in the new regional Alberta poll into your projections for Alberta ridings? http://metronews.ca/news/calgary/1426245/poll-edmonton-support-boosts-federal-ndp-hopes-in-alberta/

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    1. No, but it will be included with the next update.

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  6. I don't see the poll weights anywhere. Did those not make the jump?

    Does that mean we're just not allowed to see how much each poll is weighted in a given projection anymore?

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    1. The poll weights did not make the jump. It is not being deliberately omitted, I honestly just never thought to bring it up as a piece of information to cart over.

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    2. It was a useful shorthand.

      I will miss it.

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    3. Eric, In the absence of poll weights on the CBC site, can you post them here in the future? I can appreciate that the CBC may not want you to be judgmental about the credibility of each polling firm. However, that is an important reality, and we poll junkies thrive on that information.

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    4. If that isn't information that CBC is showing, is it something you could share with us here? We junkies need our fix.

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    5. Let me see what I can do.

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    6. Good news: one way or another, we will be adding the poll weights to the interactive. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday and for the rest of the campaign.

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    7. Weightings have now been added.

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    8. Glad to see the weightings, but is there any reason the numbers are hidden against the graphical bars?

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  7. I really like being able to compare with the last election results. Also agree that the comment section on the CBC is wildly rabid and astroturfed.

    Haven't yet figured out how to show seat ranges in the regional breakdown.

    Does your model widen the ranges when percentage spreads are as tight as they are in Ontario?

    If they stay so tight, a couple hundred votes (or few score for that matter) will decide a dozen seats or more as they did in 2011.

    Admittedly every election has a few tight races, but with Ontario, it's looking like a whole bunch more unless the numbers shift a few more percent.

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    1. Seat ranges for the regional breakdowns are something that is supposed to be added in the future.

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  8. Two questions/comments:
    1) Post-election, do you think it will stay with CBC or come back to your site?
    2) Is it possible to adjust the scale of the line graph on the CBC site to show more vertical exaggeration? With such a close race, my eyes just see it all muddled together...could be just me though :)

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    1. 1) No plans have yet been made for the post-election period.

      2) I don't think they can change the vertical, but I think that they will be working on being able to change the time period.

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    2. It's relatively easy coding to made the vertical scale dependent on the min and max values of the data set. It doesn't inspire me with confidence if they can't manage that.

      One other think I don't like is that the Regions are alphabetical, not geographical.

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    3. I think JVB is not talking about the scale, but just the actual size of the graphic.

      We actually talked about that. All of us here think of it geographically, but it goes back to the mass vs. niche audience. A lot of people don't think of things that way, and would find it an odd grouping if it were geographical rather than alphabetical.

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    4. The alphabetical question is an interesting one. It seems immediately obvious to me that geographic sorting is better, but I can see two reasons why others might not:

      1. They don't know where the provinces are. If someone genuinely doesn't know the relative locations of the provinces, the geographic sorting wouldn't make sense.

      2. Turning the Atlantic Canada map into a linear scale might offend people. Out west, it's easy to sort of the provinces from west to east. BC-AB-SK-MB-ON-QC-NB-? Do you put NS or PEI next? For all I know, there might be strong regional preferences there.

      The first option seems more likely. Someone in New Brunswick may well have no reason to care about the relative positions of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

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    5. Since it has Atlantic Canada lumped into one, this is a non-issue.

      Then why is the Regions list for the polling graphic alphabetical, while the Regions graphic is geographical. Wouldn't the same logic apply for both?

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  9. The new format is not good. the old one was better in that it was instantly comprehensible. 308 should continue to use what it calls the old "static graphic" at the beginning of its articles.

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    1. Very nice to see this, Éric, and quite enjoy the interactive components.

      However, I have to agree with Christopher and elliswa, the old seat projection graphic would be appreciated here on 308, even if it is just on the weekly posts that link to CBC's poll tracker.

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    2. See my response to another comment below - and I'll be updating the Poll Tracker every day once the campaign begins, so I would have to do the same here. That's a lot of work duplication!

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    3. I agree completely. The static presentation of a group of graphs and tables was immediately comprehensible. In this format I can't even look at the data for different provinces side by side. Being "interactive" does not magically make something better. In this case its a significant step backwards. A triumph of gadgetry over usefulness.

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    4. PLEASE Bring back the COMPLETE old site. Some of us do not have all day to decipher / use the interactive one. I love the CBC generally, but hate that thing. Way too complicated. I already KNOW past histories, I don't need that stuff to compare...

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  10. Congratulations Eric on your credible, professional, non-partisan approach to navigating the treacherous waters of political polling. This new enterprise enhances the great work you've already done with 308. Thank you.

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  11. That is very cool, but I miss the old table with the seat projections. It was much easier to process by seeing all the numbers there in simple columns.

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    1. Yeah, different visualizations have pros and cons. But the interactivity is fun. If you click on the arrows on the poll averages chart, you can see the little signs underneath go up and down as support changes. It's the kind of thing I could never do here.

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    2. Any plan to add in a swing bars for all the parties?

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    3. I'm not sure what you mean.

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    4. I also miss the old chart format. I had hoped you would add a "seat projection engine/ swing-o-metre" like they have at UK polling Report especially one tied to a map-that would be really cool, so that we could conduct our own seat projections.

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    5. I meant an interactive way for people to see how voter swing can effect the seat results.

      2% or 3% from one party to another can change a dozen seats.

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    6. Note that the seat projections section of the interactive is now showing the ranges for each of the parties automatically. It is currently showing the MIN/MAX ranges, but I've asked to have it show the LOW/HIGH ranges.

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  12. Merci et felicitations! A political junkie's wet dream come true! ;)

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  13. The new interactive site generally looks very good! I particularly like the regional seat projections, and the ability to compare numbers with the last election. It really helps show how and where tides are turning.

    However, I do have an issue with the new seat projection presentation. I used to look at the seat projection chart to imagine the composition of the next parliament. The old chart easily let me see what might happen if one party did very well (high or max), and another did poorly. With the new system, most of the information is hidden. I can't see the max for one party while simultaneously looking at the min of another. To me, seeing the max values for all the parties at once is not useful information, because it is not a possible election result. The old static chart gave me much more information than the new system of dots on a line.

    I also have a couple minor quibbles. I would love to see the seat projection at the top of the page. I think your seat projection is what made this site unique. We all know that Canadian polling averages can be misleading, and the interpretation of those numbers that your seat projection provides is what I most often check the site for.

    Also, the first couple times through the page I missed the links to your articles in the small window under the polling averages. These look greyed-out to me on my screen, and need to be made more visible. I also think they would be better located on a side bar, as that is where many users have been trained to look for links to articles (both your site here and CBC News use side bars in this way).

    Thanks, and I look forward to seeing and hearing more from you as we approach the election!

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    1. I'll pass along your feedback.

      For the articles, the idea is that the older ones are grayed out while the one that is tied to the latest projection update is in the darker, normal colour.

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    2. Grey print at any time is hard on the eyes, especially for those of us in our 50s or older. I'd like to see a moratorium on all print that isn't high-contrast.

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    3. Interesting, the grey headlines aren't actually links. You need to click on them once to turn them black, and only then can you click on them.

      I'm tempted to test that sit with different browsers to see what it does.

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    4. Note that the seat projections section of the interactive is now showing the ranges for each of the parties automatically. It is currently showing the MIN/MAX ranges, but I've asked to have it show the LOW/HIGH ranges.

      We also improved the colouring of the text in several places, including the article list, to make it easier to read.

      Delete
  14. I hate to pile on because the new interactive features or very cool but would it not be possible to keep the old static chart updated here as well? Or can you not do that due to a CBC thing?

    It's just the old one was more straightforward and easier to compare vote share and seats for parties

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    1. In addition to my relationship with the CBC during the campaign (it would not be a very good business decision for them to let me keep the data here as well), having the numbers on my site brings up a lot of complications.

      Firstly, it was already a lot of work to get the graphics and everything ready for this site. To do that on top of updating the interactive would be too much of a demand on my time.

      Secondly, there is the danger that there would be two sets of different numbers for periods of time. I'd have to coordinate updating my site and the CBC interactive, which would be difficult as my time constraints will be pretty severe once things get going with the campaign.

      It just isn't practical, even if it was something that I and the CBC had agreed upon.

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  15. It seems clear that the Poll Tracker is a work in progress, and as such it's very promising, and important.

    I'd just like to express my hope/request that there will ultimately be less explanation diluting what could/should be a more direct hit of readily-assimilable data. (If all the explanation is deemed essential, then this might say something about the format....)

    And I hope it's clear that most of the criticism of the Poll Tracker format reflects a consensus as to just how well-presented the data has been on this site - dense and assimilable at a glance.

    I'm guessing that being hosted by the CBC involves some expectation that the data be 'friendly' (multi-device compatible, easier to understand, requiring less of the sorts of understanding and habits of mind that political junkies take for granted.....). Lets hope it can eventually provide the density of info that this site has, while also serving those whose interests aren't as obsessive.

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    1. I appreciate your comments on my graphics, I wasn't so sure about them.

      I will pass along your feedback. You're correct that the CBC has to serve a mass audience, compared to the niche audience here.

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    2. We're all now experiencing what happens whenever a niche market product becomes a mass market product: it serves that original niche market less well.

      I don't blame you for it; that's just how things work. As someone who often finds himself among the fringes of groups, I see it a lot.

      Delete
    3. MVoicu, we've now added the ability to 'minimize' all of the explanation text on desktops, which should address your concern. It doesn't default like that, but that is because the explanatory text is necessary to put things in context for less seasoned readers.

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  16. I find it interesting that you have chosen to list Alberta separately from the Prairies, which I gather is intended to comprise only Manitoba & Saskatchewan. I wonder if you should assign that region some other label; how does "Maniskatchewan" sound (tongue-in-cheek)?

    On a more serious note, this is going to be the longest campaign in Canadian history, due to the un-Canadian fixed election date law, which is incompatible with a Parliamentary system. I wonder if voter fatigue will suppress voter turnout, which would be to the Conservatives' benefit...

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    1. Saskitoba is the usual description I've seen. The real reason is that all pollsters divide up the country in this way.

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    2. It also creates some new incentives on the dropping of the writ itself.

      Traditionally, only the government knows when the election is going to come, so they benefit by making the campaign as short as possible to give the opposition parties less time to plan.

      But now, we all know when the election will be (probably - the Governor General isn't actually bound by that stupid law), so that incentive to have a short writ period has vanished.

      I suggest this creates an incentive for a longer writ period. The parties are limited in what they can spend during the campaign, and some things (like daily polling) are only feasible in a short campaign. If the government drops the writ well before the election day, that forces all the parties to spread out their spending to avoid violating election laws. If the governing party knows this is going to happen, they can budget (and pre-buy materials).

      I expect a 60-day writ period.

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    3. I would like to see all political advertising banned until the first day of an election campaign. I would also like to see all political ads vetted for factual accuracy by an independent, non-partisan Elections Canada (the scripts and final product in the case of radio and TV ads, and mock-ups and final products of print ads) before they're unleashed on an unwitting public, in the same way the CRTC has to approve the claims of all food and drug ads before broadcast or publication. This should also apply to third-party advertising.

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    4. I'll stand right behind you and vote for this idea for sure. Plus I'm so fed up seeing taxpayers money being used for ads that actually push a specific party. Bad scene IMO

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    5. Caligirl,

      Why would the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication Commission regulate food?

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    6. CRTC regulates truth in advertising, which doesn't seem to apply to politic ads.

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    7. No Mapleson,

      the CRTC does not regulate truth in advertising it regulates TV channels, radio signals and electronic media band width. It also regulates to some degree content but, this does not equate with determining truth or mistruths.

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    8. Health Canada regulates drug ads.

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    9. CRTC regulates children's advertising and alcohol advertising.

      http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/general/codes/alcohol.htm

      Delete
  17. But when there is a federal topic that only you junkies could love, I will try to post here.

    Junkies! I resemble that remark :)

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    1. It is said with love. My guiding philosophy for this site has always been that if I think something is cool, a lot of you will as well. This site is really just something I would want to read.

      Delete

  18. Ah, I don't know if I mentioned this before.

    1) There is a daily Twitter newsletter, Canadian Politics Uncensored which works off the #cdnpoli hashtag. You can find it HERE

    I run the Twitter newsletter, and I help run the Facebook group.

    Wayne

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  19. 308 used to have a chart with 2 boxes (at the bottom of the 308 page) that showed Vote % (with ranges) and Seat Projections (with ranges) "over time". The longitudinal nature of those charts clearly illustrated the trending patterns, whereas the new seat projection graphics, while amazingly useful, have lost that "trending over time" dimension. That chart was my favourite feature of 308. .Is there any way you could recreate that "Seat Projection Over Time" chart?

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    1. I may recreate it once in awhile here if we don't have something like that added to the poll tracker.

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  20. Eric, will there be a post here to notify us when the projection in poll tracker is updated?

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    1. Not as a rule, no. You can follow me on Twitter, though, where I always post when I have new stuff.

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  21. While I think some of the interactive features of the new CBC site are quite neat, I do miss the seat projection as some have commented above. But I'm glad to hear additional content you may not think is appropriate for the CBC site will be posted here. Either way, good job with the CBC site!

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  22. Is Frank Graves always this funny?

    The newest EKOS report is an enjoyable read.

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    1. Ira, what is it about Frank Graves report that humours you so?

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    2. The headline "Harper – Grr! Mulcair and Trudeau – there’s a difference?" is certainly funny.

      I also found the tone of the conclusion really quite amusing.

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  23. This is all extremely disappointing.

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    1. Why are you 'extremely disappoint(ed)' Marc?

      Teacher, teacher, do embrace this opportunity to explain yourself ;-)

      Otherwise I dare say the falling Liberal fotunes underpin your current emotional/intellectual state.

      Say it ain't so, joe.

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  24. No sure where to list errors for the cbc page but on the current write up says; The Liberal Party had the largest change, up 0.5 points since the last poll average calculations.

    But they have lost 0.5 points and the NDP is the only party to gain on the average +0.4

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    1. Yes, it was a bug that had popped up earlier. It has been fixed!

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  25. Looks to me as if the NDP is on an unstoppable run ??

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    1. Peter,

      I'll bet you when they write the history on why Harper lost, reason 1 will be because the Conservatives waited too late to set their sights on Mulcair and b) failed in intensity once they did.

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    2. I think you may be right Ron and certainly hope you are !!

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    3. Harper is well on the way to re-election, one of the the paths to victory for the Tories is another election with a low popular vote for the Liberal party. Remeember the old Rhinocerous party saying: You can fool some of the people all of the time; And All of the people some of the time but; You only need to fool a plurality of people during election time!

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    4. Long-term expats can’t vote in federal elections, court rules

      The Appeal Court ruling means more than one million Canadians living abroad for more than five years cannot cast ballots.

      Tor Star Breaking News

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    5. That's probably good news for the NDP. I imagine that ex-pats are more likely to vote according to long-held party allegiances, and that generally means Liberal or Tory.

      Delete
  26. Just a suggestion:

    Maybe separate SK and MB on the infographics. I know its common for data to be clumped together for that region of Canada, however, there are two very different statistical situations in each of those provinces. The numbers for NDP are much more positive in SK than they are in MB and amalgamating the numbers ignores this reality.

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  27. I guess you had to sell out to get a more functional site and better pay, good for you, but now all your data becomes suspect and eventually you will be asked or told to do something that is shady, or you shade things to please those you work with.

    Whatever, your numbers are now and always will be suspect.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Believe it or not, I'm not some neophyte. I worked for the Globe for four years and have worked with the CBC for 10 months now. And you know what? I was never asked to do anything 'shady'.

      And you know what? I never will because it is completely stupid to think that is how things actually work.

      Delete
    2. "sell out" "shady" "your numbers are now and always will be suspect".

      These are very pejorative terms. What is your basis for these comments?

      Delete
    3. Éric, I'm gonna take a stab in the dark, judging by his profile info, that Mr. Milne thinks that by joining the state-run CBC you are a raving Stalinist.

      Delete
    4. Éric,

      If his post doesn't cross a line, I don't know what does. I thought it was Leninists that populated the Mother Corp. Silly, silly, me!

      Delete
    5. It was, but then there was a coup, and...

      Delete
  28. Eric,

    Have you ever done any analysis of polling related to the election cycle?

    I always considered 4 distinct period:

    1) a 6 month to 1 year honeymoon period - where the elected party retains their popularity
    2) a roughly 2 to 3 year period where people park their support in the centre of the political spectrum.
    3) a 2 to 4 month period before the election where people start to think about their upcoming vote, and
    4) the final week in the campaign when fear, rather than logic, move a block of voters based on desparate negative advertisements.

    I wonder if you have noticed any such trends and which parties get support in each period?

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    Replies
    1. That sounds about right, but every election is so different it is probably impossible to find consistent patterns where they always fits.

      Delete
  29. Where are the riding-by-riding predictions? I don't see them any more.

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    1. They are here! I have a link in this post, but you can also access them through one of the banners at the top of this page.

      Delete

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