02 October 2011

CBC torques poll coverage #nlpoli #nlvotes

Think of it as another form of poll goosing.

As an example of how news media can take a piece of information and make a false statement out it, consider CBC’s online version of the story about a poll released Friday by the same company that polls for the provincial government’s energy corporation.

“Liberal support in free fall” screams the headline.

The first sentence is less dramatic:

A public opinion poll released Friday suggests that Newfoundland and Labrador's Liberals have lost even more ground leading into the last half of the Oct. 11 election campaign.

There’s even a graphic that uses the numbers from the news release.  They show a drop of five percentage points in decided Liberal support, according to the poll.

The only problem for CBC is that the headline and the lede are false.

The combined margin of error for this poll and the one before it is more than the five point drop shown in the report numbers in the two polls..  Therefore, the actual numbers for the Liberals fall within a range of 4.5 or 5 points above or below the figures given.

This is why polls with such large margins of error tend to be useless for most meaningful purposes.  And for detecting trends, you’d have to see a huge drop between polls – like more than 10 points -  in order to get something that could conceivably be called a significant change.

What would free fall look like? 

Well, certainly a hell of a lot more than what is shown.  10 points or more would be a likely candidate for such dramatic language, especially over the course of a mere 10 days or so.

m5It’s also interesting that while CBC mentioned a relationship between MQO and advertising company M5, they didn’t mention that MQO is also Nalcor’s pollster because it is owned by M5. The advertising company is Nalcor’s agency of record.

mqCBC also said MQO was “affiliated” with M5.  That’s not even close to correct either. 

According to the provincial registry of companies, the same three men are the only directors of M5 (above), MQO (right)and all the companies within the M5 Group.

MQO is owned by M5. 

That’s factually correct.


That would be misleading bordering on deceptive.

- srbp -