10.02.2014 05:12 PM

In Friday’s Sun: like, no

Likely voters?

If you are likely to like what likely voters like, then you are likely to be wrong. Get it?

No? That’s alright – nobody else really understands what “likely voters” are, either. But pollsters are pontificating about “likely voters,” yet again, and all of us should be wary.

Case in point: this week, an outfit calling itself Angus Reid Global declared that, among “likely voters,” the Harper Conservatives and Trudeau Liberals are now tied.


Said the pollster: “Among those who are likely voters, the Liberals and Conservatives are tied, with both parties earning the support of 33 per cent.”

Really? That’s not what the past year-and-a-half of polls have said. In all but a few cases, in fact, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have been shown to be ahead, or far ahead. Why is it so different with a poll looking at so-called “likely voters”?

In their appended page about methodology, the Angus Reid people said they applied “a weighting structure that further adjusts our sample to reflect known variations in voter turnout – specifically across age groups – while also filtering based on respondents’ own identified reported past voting patterns and habits.”

What does that mean? Who knows. But it, um, likely means the pollster changed the results they got to (a) reflect the fact that older Canadians tend to vote Conservative, and vote more often and (b) reflect the fact that if a Canadian has voted one way in the past, they are likely to do so in the future.

If that sounds, er, like a reasonable way of peering at mountains of polling data, you’re not alone. This writer, and many others, got burned in Ontario’s election, big time, when we started to believe in this “likely voter” category hooey.

Right until election night on June 12, it made sense to us that “likely voters” were the demographic that pundits and politicos need to pay the most attention to – and, as such, the Ontario Liberals and Ontario PCs were therefore tied in voter intention. According to “likely voters,” Ontarians wanted change, and they were prepared to consider Tim Hudak’s PCs as the best vehicle for delivering it.

On election night, however, some of us were over at the Sun News Network, readying to pontificate about the results. Before the polls closed, I ran into pollster David Coletto, and asked him this: “Um, have you pollster guys worked out what this ‘likely voter’ category is, perchance?”

Said David: “No.”


The rest is history. The “likely voters” weren’t nearly as “likely” as we’d been told, were they? A (very likeable) Kathleen Wynne and her Ontario Liberal election team won a majority when (a rather dislikable) PC campaign team – a team that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with their 100,000 pink slips craziness.

Do we in the media, and sundry pollsters, learn from past mistakes? Ha! Surely you jest! Here we are, three months and a bit later, and we’re back to believing balderdash and baloney about “likely voters.”
We shouldn’t.

Once bitten, twice shy. Fool me once, yadda yadda.

Just forget about the polls, folks, which get things wrong more than they seem to get things right, these days. Justin Trudeau is ahead, full stop.

That’s what my gut is telling me, and I shouldn’t have ever stopped going with it. Hasn’t failed me yet.

You should do, um, likewise. You’re likely to be closer to the likely outcome.


  1. Windsurfer says:


    I like the way that JT referred to Harper’s Iraq CF-18’s as being showing off their big dicks instead of being more diplomatic.

    That got him into a load of trouble with the indignant CON’s (Kenney et al) and I do wonder what the fallout will be.

    Sorry to be off topic but that to me was the outrageous statement of the day on the Commons floor.

    Your opinion>>>>>>>> ?

    • Warren says:

      It was dumb. He will regret it.

      • Terry Quinn says:

        How likely is that?

        JT dissed the Harpercons and will get away with it because that’s how he will explain it. The fact he has suddenly gotten most of the headlines on the ISIL issue should tell you a lot.

        • Matt says:

          The latest Ipsos showing 64% of Canadians support Canadian jets participating in airstrikes against ISIL should tell the manchild Trudeau something.

          This has support across ALL demograpghics.


          • debs says:

            I dont believe that poll, and the most I would say is, its asking a very specific question to get that result…..say like if ISIL were to come to your bedroom and chop your partners head off, would you want canada to join the war effort.
            I call bullshit on the polls

          • Terry Quinn says:

            check the polls in a month and check a poll that asks about boots on the ground where Harpercrite will eventually take us.

      • Ron says:

        What is it with this guy ? I know there are many who would agree with the analogy but all he has to do is shut up and when the time comes, kick the door in.

        The whole Harperite structure will come crashing down.

        But this ? All it will do is give Harper’s firefighters a new load of kerosene.

        • Terry Quinn says:

          I would bet money this will raise his numbers because it pokes fun at the Harpercons. Watch for his next explanation on his original comment

          • G McRae says:

            I am getting tired of the “this is what I meant to say” approach. Shoot from the hip, regroup with advisers, brush up on some cute soundbites, and then trot them out the next day. Stuff like this might not hurt him immediately, but it adds to the CPC narrative. For example, his admiration of the Chinese dictatorship is looking pretty bad right now given what is happening in Hong Kong. Can you imagine if the Chinese government cracks down with a show of force? The ads just write themselves.

            The real world does not work this way. International leaders and media won’t be as forgiving as his national media Fan Club.

    • debs says:

      it was a hilarious comment, and really how different is this theatre, next to the con theatre of Paul Callendre being a total fool.
      I thought that comment was at least witty and showed intelligent. Unlike the cons and their crap, which shows only contempt they have for us the voter. Trudeaus contempt was for Harper and many people share it these days, I say it will score pts.

      • MississaugaPeter says:

        “I say it will score pts.”

        So if you were JT’s advisor, you would encourage him to make more remarks like this?

        • debs says:

          well I would tell him that being boring, staid or dishonest isnt the way to go, as then he is no different from Harper. He shows passion and like his dad makes outrageous statements but they sometimes resonant with the populace.

      • Bobby says:

        Yeah, IF you’re 16 and in high school it’s funny. If you’re the guy leading the country and in charge of the military – it’s a stupid ass comment that he will regret. Junior just gave both Mulcair and Harper pretty good oppo. ammo. for some truth ads.

        • Kaspar Juul says:

          Correction… Truthy ads

          • Terry Quinn says:

            Libs are not broke any longer and will more than counter anything the other two try on him. they have already built an excellent set of ads to address any situation that comes up. And, if you look closely you will see that for several months almost every JT/LPC ad on FB is followed by a Harpercon ad. They are that scared but cannot dent the Lib lead because people want change and JT will show his very serious side when the time is right.

  2. Sean says:

    “What do you call a campaign that is relying on unregistered and undecided voters? A losing campaign” James Carville

  3. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Some leaders win because of themselves. Others win despite themselves. Justin is quite candidly, a little of both. His comments amount to background noise in the end.

    Liberals will win in Ottawa — as they did in Quebec City –because of the ruling party’s consistently high disapproval rate as a government. The numbers already have Harper cooked. They are clearly in their sunset days and Justin will probably be the accidental beneficiary of that. To massacre a newsroom quip — if he breathes, he leads.

    • Matt says:

      You mean like the numbers showed Christie Clarke, Allison Redford and Kathleen Wynne “cooked”?

      Premiers Dix, Smith and Hudak might agree with you.

      Oh wait……..

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        Apples and oranges. Dix, Smith and Hudak lost because they ran lousy, even crappy campaigns. On the other hand, Pauline ran a better campaign but the numbers had already sealed her fate.

        Ask yourself why my leader continues to lead in the polls despite repeated verbal gaffes — look to the government’s negative numbers and you will find the answer.

        • Matt says:

          And in between elections, people “park” their vote with the opposition, only to come back to support the government when the election is on.

          • Terry Quinn says:

            Matt, when the underlying choices are made because people want change that is not vote parking. The polls have been constant for about 16/18 months now and the distrust of Harper will not change. If Harper polls start to move north the opposition will take care of that with leaks of his past sins; he is now clearly the underdog and even his prominent supporters are now showing signs of abandoning him or suggesting its time to go. That alone will take on a life of its own and people will begging to believe it as fact. Then, if he stays, the distrust will have grown even more

      • ottlib says:

        Mr. Dix lost because he let his opponents define him. Something the Conservatives and the NDP have failed to do despite 18 months of effort.

        Ms. Smith lost because in their hearts Albertans are conservative (note the small c) and they were not yet ready to hand the reigns of power over to a newly minted political party. The Liberals are well established with a long history and an enduring Brand.

        Mr. Hudak lost because he broke the cardinal rule of running against a tired and unpopular government. He rocked the boat when all he had to do was appear non-threatening. If Mr. Trudeau does not pull a Hudak next fall he will be in a very good position to win power.

  4. graham watt says:

    People still don’t get it. He speaks like the country speaks. The fogeys don’t like it. Get over it, everyone.

    • Terry Quinn says:

      Les, you always draw the wrong conclusions. People don’t care about his past professional background. They like him the way he is now and neither you or the Harper war room are going to change that. If everyone thought about Harper’s comments before he was elected he would not be there now. He got there only because the Libs got caught in an internal war and Adscam. Harper has a bagful of those scandals to be brought out at the right time and his own party is starting to squirm over his continued leadership. Those internal politics are more brutal than running for election.

  5. Joe says:

    Its always easy to be ahead in the polls when there is no election happening. I can’t think of a government that wasn’t less popular than the opposition at this time in their mandate and surprisingly enough many of them came back to win a majority at the next election. IOW its too far out to make any kind of prediction.

  6. Matt says:

    Trudeau must like the taste of his shoes, because he just stuck his foot in his mouth again in the HOC.

    Justin Trudeau:
    “Canada has better things to offer than a few aging aircraft”

    Retired RCAF Brigadier General Don Macnamara on the CBC:
    Mr. Trudeau’s comment was ignorant, ill informed an irrelevant. The CF-18′s are 30 years old, that’s true however they are constantly being upgraded and Mr Trudeau has despairaged all those who work to keep those planes ready to fight with his remarks.”

    • Bobby says:

      The Liberal leader clearly disrepects our men and women in uniform.

      • Blue Grit says:

        Clearly he did no such thing. He did take a swipe at Harper and the Conservative government. (Trudeau should not do this, as he does not need to)
        However, the Conservative government did spend the first half of this year ‘clearly’ disrespecting the men and women of our armed forces.

      • Kaspar Juul says:

        Namecalling, always the resort of those without a point

    • ottlib says:

      General McNamara should know better. A half dozen Canadian F-18s are not going to tip the balance of any conflict with ISIS considering the Americans and Brits have deployed scores of combat aircraft to the theatre of war.

      On the other hand using Canada’s upgraded strategic airlift capability, which ironically the Harper government acquired, to provide logistical support to the states fighting ISIS would be much more useful.

      There is no such thing as being oversupplied in a military conflict. There are countries and political entities on the ground who will be the ones who will be doing the actual close combat with ISIS. Canada might be more useful in that fight if it contributed more of its substantial strategic airlift capability to it. It would not be showy or high profile but it would be much more effective.

      • Patrick says:

        Well said.

      • socks clinton says:

        Harper’s slow response to commit military support is not giving him any brownie points with the United States and it showed last week when Obama walked out on when it was Harper’s turn to speak at the UN conference in New York last week. Just making claims of support will not get him that pipeline.

  7. e.a.f. says:

    they can say and conclude all they want but its the “unlikely” voter who frequently makes the changes. Hello NDP in Quebec. Some one ought to find Jack Layton’s play book. See how it was done. ya, ya, ya, hard work and a lot of personality.

    Watching him walk by in a local parade on Vancouver Island, with his cane, reminded me of Tommy Douglas speaking on Maine Island back in the early 1970s, at a small island event. What both men knew was an election was not won or lost on election day, it was won or lost on all the other days during the 4/5 yrs between elections. What amazed me when I was young was how Tommy Douglas was always out and about.

    Interesting on the CTV national news last night, out here in B.C. gave all sorts of air time to Mulcair and his support for the Champlain Bridge. Went out and interviewed people and reminded them how they have to pay tolls in B.C. and those in Montreal won’t because of Mulcair. It looks like the fun has started and the real attacks on Mulcair have begun here in B.C. (some in B.C. are a tad tired of harper and his herd and not all are happy with the B.C. Lieberals. the word Liberal may not go over so well here, unless Trudeau the younger can separate himself from the Christy Chrunch B.C. Lieberals.

  8. socks clinton says:

    So whatever happened to that “peace dividend” that will should have got after the military cuts. We didn’t get one after the Cold War ended and neither with any of the Persian Gulf conflicts. The Western economy flourished under the Cold War but yet today despite all these cuts to the military it now costs me twice as much to mail a letter.

  9. scot says:

    Lance, if you don’t know the difference between a traditional Conservative and this new breed of reform Conservatives then you are just a run of the mill coolade drinker.

    • Lance says:

      Yeah yeah, a “traditional Conservative” is something a Liberal drone like you defines.

      (eye roll) Whatever.

      By the way, nice captcha – lib1, LOL

  10. graham watt says:

    Poor JT. Nobody likes him but the people.

  11. Lance says:

    And just wondering…………

    Which party does everyone think is going to whip their vote tomorrow or not and why?

  12. Al in Cranbrook says:

    David Akins reminds us how another PM handled a terrorist threat back in 2001…


    Thought it relevant seeing as, you know, Trudeau…and quite few here, too… like to live in the past so much.

    • Terry Quinn says:

      al, I keep hearing trudeau saying he is not his father and that he lives in different times. So much for that ;piece of BS from you.

    • Blue Grit says:

      Wow! “Thought it relevant”? Sorry Al, but I’ve got to call BS on this one. Maybe you do not understand the difference, or maybe it’s just blind partisanship.
      In Oct. 2001, the public was well aware of all issues concerning the threat, politics, and who the enemy was. We knew the history, and the complexities & challenges of combat in Afghanistan. Everyone understood why Chretien made his decision, and the public supported it, wholeheartedly. There was nothing partisan about it. Rightly or wrongly, this issue of ‘lack of partisan support’ is a product of the environment cultivated over years, by the Conservative government.

      Back in the fall of 2001, there was no need for the ‘call to arms’ and war justification rhetoric you are hearing today. Look it up. Lots of information available.
      You see……There is a big difference between “perceived threat” and “confirmed threat”.

      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        What? You think the public is not well aware of what ISIS is doing? Of what they are threatening to do? To the west? To specifically Canada?

        Why does the left eternally have such difficulty sorting out morality? Or what to do about gross and flagrant immorality?

        Let’s see now…they’re marching human beings by the thousands into mass graves a la Nazi treatment of Jews, they’re selling women by the hundreds into sexual slavery, they’re even beheading hundreds of children for reasons apparently only Allah knows, etc, etc, etc. Just exactly what does it actually take to finally motivate “the left” to take serious action? More to the point, accept responsibility to take action?

        Does it have to get right down to people in black hoods and waving ISIS flags as they behead people on your own street in Any Town, Canada before the lights finally come on??? And you think that could never happen in Canada? Like it recently did in Britain? Or like these bastards were planning in Australia before security services busted them???

        They’ve made no secret of their desires and plans, pal. Indeed, they’ve gone out of their way to make sure everyone one of us knows only them too well.

        I’ll take them at their word, you don’t have to hit me in the face with the butt end of an AK47 to get my attention or wake me up.

        • Blue Grit says:

          Wow! They have certainly scared the shite out of you!
          I guess I should have seen this coming, challenging your delusion that way.

          However, kudos to you for managing to capture every stereotypical atrocity that occurs in this region, in one sentence. You even managed to draw a comparison to Nazis, and reference the holocaust. That was impressive. It would seem that you have a subscription to the ISIS Channel. I hope you realize that these videos that they make, are specifically for people like you. Who needs bombs and anthrax, when they have talented video production personnel.

          If you had a clue, you would be advocating a “boots on the ground”, full scale assault and bug hunt. Hell, with your discourse of the ‘facts’; you should be strapping the boots on as well, as it sounds like your on a bit of a Jihad yourself.

          Lastly…..I usually do not look to the man cowering under his bed, to act as my moral compass.

          For God’s sake, turn off your TV and get a grip!

        • Blue Grit says:

          Well……..They have certainly scared the shite out of you!

          However, kudos to you for managing to capture every stereotypical atrocity, that occurs with regularity in this region, in one sentence. You even managed to draw a comparison to Nazis, and reference the holocaust. That was impressive. It would seem that you have a subscription to the ISIS Channel. I hope you realize that these videos that they make, are specifically produced for people like you. Who needs bombs and anthrax, when they have talented video production personnel.

          If you seriously wanted to achieve your objective, you would be advocating a “boots on the ground”, full scale assault and bug hunt. Hell, with your discourse of the ‘facts’; you should be strapping the boots on as well, as it sounds like your on a bit of a Jihad yourself.

          Lastly…..I usually do not look to the man cowering under his bed, to act as my moral compass. Get get a grip!

          • Al in Cranbrook says:

            You think it’s as simple as producing horrific vids? That’s as deep as it goes? Got it all cased and neatly wrapped so you can live with your conscience?

            You’re an idiot.

            And you wouldn’t know a moral compass if it was hanging out your ass.

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