Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is the Garneau "Poll" Accurate?

Ever since this morning, former leadership rivers Joyce Murray and Martha Hall Findlay have been throwing cold water upon the "poll" - actually a survey, but let's just call it a poll - that Marc Garneau cited as his reasons for not continuing his leadership bid.

The crux of their argument, or at least Joyce Murray's argument starting off, is that:

a) this was not a poll of registered voters;

b) the leadership will not be decided by popular vote, not technically.

Here's my response to those points.

a) This is a valid point. At the same time, 6,000 known Liberals - as far as I know, currently registered members and supporters - are not something to scoff at. If we assume this is a somewhat representative sample of all members and supporters, or roughly 294,000, the margin of error on it is still only 1.25%; if we assume only a third of that 294,000 will be registered, and put that to our sample, that's just under 2,000 surveyed - its still only a margin of error of 2.2%. We can go smaller and assume likely voters, but then you're splitting hairs.

The point is that 6,000 people surveyed is a big, big number, and 72% of them said they're going to support Trudeau as leader. Those are numbers to take into account when making the decision that Garneau made. I don't think Murray has much of a case here, though if you want to make an excuse up, you could do worse than point out that it isn't a poll of registered voters.

b) If Trudeau cannot win a majority of riding points with 72% of the popular vote, then the system we've used is completely screwed up and nowhere near proportional, and I would expect Murray, the person going on and on about proportional representation, to refuse the leadership.

At the same time, we can look at a very similar case - the 2004 Conservative leadership convention. In that race, Stephen Harper won 68.9% of the votes but only 56.2% of the "points," - his main competitor, Belinda Stronach, won 22.9% of the votes and 34.5% of the points, while Tony Clement won 8.2% of the votes and 9.4% of the "points."

So, already we have one case whereby its clear that a landslide win in the popular vote translated into a landslide win in the "points" category. There was, of course, a drop for the frontrunner and increased tallies for the challengers. This is because, frankly, this "points" system is kind of stupid. Very similar to the American Electoral College, except everyone has the equal amount of electors. Giving small ridings the same say as big ridings is not a good idea, as you can end up with a very skewed result.

Anyways, it would take a tremendous amount of screwing around to ensure that the 72% support Justin receives doesn't translate into majority support. He would need to end up winning vast, huge, enormous leads in a handful of ridings, and not be competitive anywhere else. Any candidate elected by this method would be illegitimate in the eyes of the vast majority of voters. And its a huge stretch of the imagination, grasping at straws, etc.

Now, the assumption I'm going off is that Murray and Hall Findlay think these numbers are wrong, and that the race is much closer. If true, then sure, they do have a chance. So why not commission their own surveys and polls, and release those? Prove to us that Garneau's survey was wrong. Then we'll take you seriously - but until that's done, I find their objections to this survey to be nothing but fluff.


  1. is there any doubt that Trudeau is going to win? Would the liberal party Reject Pierre's Son? No? it looks like another liberal coronation.

  2. What CRAP. With 7 candidates, whoever wins is NOT a coronation. Stupid CONS.

  3. Kitt

    Shhhhhh... Don't go and ruin their preferred narrative with logic and stuff.

  4. My read:
    No. The poll is off. AND, things change.

    I expect that the "real" numbers as of today are probably something like:
    65% - For Trudeau
    35% - Against Trudeau

    And with Garneau's resignation, this makes the for VS against argument only stronger.

    I also say that it is quite possible to win a majority of the ridings on a minority of the vote. It all depends on a few things; for example:

    How many members do ridings like York West or Mount Royal have? How many members do ridings like Crowfoot or Sackville Eastern Shore? If the answer is 10,000 vs 100, then you could indeed have someone win with just a third of the vote.

    1. In the end, however, I suspect that anyone who captures, say, 57% of the vote, should be able to capture 50%+1 of the "points"; AND, that this depends on the opposing candidate having campaigned specifically for those "small" ridings; AND, for the popular candidate to be unpopular in those areas.

      With Trudeau vs either Murray or Findlay, I suspect that the reality is that Trudeau only needs about 53% of the vote to guarantee a points victory.

      I also strongly suspect he will have over 58% of the vote on the first ballot.

    2. My ballot will be one of them.

      ...Unless... I decide there is no way in hell Trudeau can possibly lose. As in, so certain, that I'd be willing to bet my rent money.

      IF and only if that is the case, I may cast a ballot in support of all other candidates. IE, rank Bertshi first (since he'll probably finish last) and then rank my #2 as the person who I think will finish second last, etc etc etc, so that my ballot always counts for the person eliminated; thus raising their vote totals.

  5. Murrays camp say some really negative things about other candidates and her questioning other candidates numbers is nothing new. She questioned Trudeau's number of supporters but then wouldn't release her own number. She'll behave the same on this, questioning the poll but not showing anything to dispute it. A bit like the claim of malice - nothing to back it up.

    6000 is a big number but it does depend on the pool. On Murrays Facebook, they speculate it was only Liberal members and that Murray would look better if supporters were included. They seem to think she is not very popular among Liberal members.

    1. It isn't so much that she is not popular amongst Liberal Members, it is more about the fact that her entire strategy has focused on bringing in supporters who are not Liberal members, and she had a lot of success at that since the sampled membership was polled. The argument is valid that the poll is not representative of those who will cast a ballot. Doesn't mean she will win, but she will without a doubt do much much better than Garneau says.

    2. Greencanada, I was repeating what her supporters say on her facebook, not my own view. They think she may be at 6% among Liberal members and that Trudeau may sit at 73% among Liberal members. They also agree with you that this all changes when supporters are included.