Do Canadians really want an election?

Two polls on whether we want an election, two VERY different results. The divergent titles tell the story, from Angus Reid we get Half of Canadians Want to Hold a Federal Election in 2011 while Ipsos Reid warns Country in no mood for an election.

Strangely, Ipsos finds no fence sitters, or they leave them out- we don’t know, because Ipsos doesn’t publicly release the questions for their publicly released polls, that everyone publicly draws conclusions from, helping to reshape public opinion. I find it hard to believe that everyone expressed a firm opinion, particularly when Angus Reid finds almost 2 in 10 "aren’t sure". This is important, because if you look at the Ipsos poll you are lead to believe that 60% of Canadians don’t want an election, when really the number is probably far less, considering they just cite the firm responders. I think this is pure crap, that distorts the numbers, but hey, what do I know, pundits in Ottawa will run with the numbers without these bothersome considerations.

In the Angus Reid poll, we find only 34% don’t want an election, a FAR cry from the huge majority found in the Ipsos poll. We all understand differences poll to poll, but when you have a 26% gap, absolutely massive, poll to poll, it begs some questions. Who to believe? Here I would look at past predictive records, which makes this a very easy call from where I sit. There is something instructive with these polls, that being, it is pure laziness to take any individual poll and run with it, form narratives, basically shape newscycles and with it public perception, without some SCRUTINY. People don’t just use any source, which is why I am continually amazed that we just lap up every finding, from anybody, no matter the framing, who paid for it, whether or not said pollster is reliable, anything- nope just puke out the numbers and everyone runs with it, only to be stopped in their tracks with the next inevitable counter finding. I also don’t like the trend graphs that include everyone equally, because some are better than others, some poll more frequently, some have higher margins of errors, drawing any conclusions is problematic at best.

Do we want an election or not? If I had to pick one, I’d go with Angus Reid. Why? They have a more realistic sample, the "don’t know" crowd inclusion gives a better sense of real world views, rather than arbitary omissions which fluff up numbers. I’d add, Angus Reid poses some other questions which show the Conservatives enjoy a marked advantage, so this isn’t some partisan consideration, or simply picking to support a personal preference. If one is inclined to take a more neutral position, these polls tell us the public mood isn’t absolutely certain, so to say a party risks or doesn’t, a speculative game at best.

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