10 September 2008

Anything But Clear: poll

If the latest poll by NTV News is any indication, the Premier has a gigantic job of work ahead of him just in his own province to make the Family Feud relevant to the federal election let alone taking the thing across the country.

Of the 1200 likely voters polled, 27% hadn't heard of the Premier's Anything But Conservative campaign.  That's two years after he started it and despite more than a few references to it on the news.

The poll, conducted by Telelink for NTV, then asked the voters who were aware of ABC - that's 919 respondents for those keeping track - if they though it was appropriate for the Premier to be engaged in it in the first place.
45.6% said yes, 34.5% said no, 19.9% were unsure. The margin of error is +/-3.3 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
Whip out those calculators, ladies and gentlemen, and do some math.  Sensitive people may avert their eyes at this point.

That's 45.6% of the 73% who indicated they'd heard of the Premier's campaign.

A couple of clicks on the old calculator later and you see that works out to only 33% of all respondents.  One third of the public think it's appropriate. 

That's all.

But it gets worse, at least for the ABCers:
Telelink had more difficulty than usual getting people to answer the survey, and those who did -- 55% -- were undecided. Meanwhile, 19.1% said they would vote Liberal, 14.3% said they would vote Conservative and 8.8% said they would vote NDP.
Now it's almost impossible to understand if that means 55% of 1200, 55% of 919 or 55% of some other small number who answered the question but any way you put that together, it should make some people in the province very nervous about the outcome of the election in some of the seats.

Like say the three on the Avalon peninsula that are really the only ones up for grabs.

And through this you have to bear in mind that Telelink's survey during the last provincial election was eerily accurate.  We're talking off by a few percentage points as opposed to the widely quoted CRA poll which was off by a country mile and then some.

People aren't indicating their unquestioning and everlasting support for the crusade.  Who would ever have believed such a thing possible, take one step forward.  Certainly not your humble e-scribbler who has contended that at the very least survey respondents in these parts are adept at concealing their real intentions. 


Other times, they describe themselves as undecided when they are thinking of doing something that goes against the perceived popular or dominant opinion.  It used to be - not so very long ago - that people in the undecided column were usually those ticked at government about something but either parking there until the matter resolved or leaning toward the opposition party but not sure if it was safe to say it openly.  About 15 to 20% can be genuinely undecided or won't vote.

In this case, a significant chunk of the 55% who were undecided could very well be potential Conservative voters or more likely are Conservatives who have made up their minds but just don't want to say. There may also be a bunch of undecided Liberals who are unsure of the vote or who might be looking at another option.  Heck, with numbers like that, pretty well all three major parties have some softness in their support.

The parties have a job of work to do. In many instances, that job won't be made easier by mixing around party allegiances among workers or by having candidates from one of the provincial parties cuddling up to people they usually don't agree with let alone work beside on a campaign. 

If Telelink and NTV released the full data set, someone could crunch some numbers and give you a much more accurate view of the poll and the electorate than the online story does.  Even as it is, though, this first poll of the campaign should really shake up the popular perception of what has already turned out to be a campaign of surprises.