05.07.2012 06:03 AM

Pollsters adopt “truthiness” (updated)

The Harper Cons aren’t truthful. They’re truthy. You know, with them, something doesn’t have to be true – just somewhat plausible. It’s the Harper way!

Pollsters who measured voter opinion in Alberta’s election have now adopted the same approach: we don’t have to tell you the truth anymore – we just have to be plausible!  That’s truthiness in action.

UPDATED: Someone famous agrees with me!


  1. Volkov says:

    But they’re right… polls are only a snapshot of a period in time. They can’t predict elections, they can only show the results of an opinion survey, outfitted with leanings and so on. It’s data, nothing more, and they went with what their data showed them.

    To say they “misinformed” the public is itself misinformation, because data does not lie, it’s only data. It’s the public that should stop ascribing so much worth to polling in the first place. Polling data is there for consumption and subjective interpretation, you can’t sit there and say pollsters lied to people! Only pundits do.

  2. Dan says:

    The thing is that it’s possibly true: who are we to say that voters didn’t change their minds en masse at the last minute?

    But if that IS what happened, then the pollsters should be able to release stats like “when did you make up your mind”. Barring a heroic number in the last 24 hours, I think they’ll find that there was never any real Wildrose lead, and it was a fiction created by someone over-weighting certain demographics to prove a point.

  3. Patrick Deberg says:

    I think that in Alberta you are really not too free to speak your mind. So people say what the questioners want to hear. So the push polls are skewed. Then the truth is told at the box. Right wingers are like this. The ezra’s of the world don’t really believe in free speech. It’s a paradox that exsists only in Alberta. People use the ballot box to tell the “paid media consultants” what they really think of them…….

    • Kelly says:

      Well, the problem doesn’t ONLY exist in Alberta, but I agree you aren’t really free to speak your mind about politics. It’s kind of the same in Saskatchewan. It think it’s a prairie thing. Having grown up and lived in Saskatchewan and gone to school for a while in Alberta and spent a lot of time in Alberta visiting relatives, I think there’s a traditional sense of not wanting to rock the boat with your neighbours because there are so few people around and you have to rely on them if anything goes wrong. I think that was the case in the early days of settling the place and was carried forward by everyone right up to my generation since we were raised by parents who still remember the great depression and who counted on neighbours. You couldn’t afford to build up resentments. I think that’s why there’s such strong traditions of political dynasties there — whether the So-creds, PCs or CCF/NDP.

      Things are changing now, as more and more and more and more people move to Alberta from other parts of the country. The rednecks like Levant, who grew up in rural Alberta are losing control of the province — and it’s driving them crazy.

      • “more and more and more people move to Alberta” Yes, people are moving to Alberta, but they tend to be moving here for the money, and as such they feel obliged to back the social and politcal status quo. Alberta in some ways absorbs all the right wingers from the ROC. (You could at least say “thank-you,” ROC.)

        Meanwhile Alberta is a net exporter of progressive thinkers and artists, Tegan and Sara, Fiest, Calgary Grit, and Warren Kinsella, for example. There are no stats to back this, but I strongly believe that there are thousands of GLBTs, for example, who got the heck out of Alberta in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even the 90s and went to Montreal, Toronto and esp. Vancouver. (The exodus stopped, I think, when Joe Clark won Calgary Centre in 2000.) Had folks felt welcome in Calgary sooner, we would have had our Nenshi moment decades earlier.

    • “In Alberta you are really not too free to speak your mind.” Stupidest thing I`ve read in a very long time.

  4. Anon says:

    It is surprising to read the above comment from Volkov who I suspect is the same person who has a great interest in political polls.

    Here is why I find Volkov’s comment surprising. Without sounding patronizing, there is “good” data and there is “bad” data. The former come from the proper use of unbiased statistical methodology and analysis. Bad data come from their improper use, whether advertently or not. Volkov evidently has great confidence that all these polls had been properly done. However, I am not so sure that Volkov’s confidence is justified.

    Online polling usually draw from pools of pre-registered voters, thus it would be a stretch of the imagination to argue that the data coming from them are unbiased. It is even more of a mystery how margin of errors, which fundamentally have been designed for random, unbiased data, are calculated from these polls. The difficulties associated with IVR polling are also well known. Telephone polling is perhaps more reliable if properly carried out but it has its own issues (land lines versus cell phones). In the Alberta election, all three methodologies agreed that WR was significantly ahead. Clearly, there were only two possibilities: either “great minds think alike” or “fools seldom differ”. Hindsight being 20/20, we now know that it is the latter.

    Thus it is surprising for the pollsters, and it seems Volkov too, to now suggest that the polls did not sctually capture bad data. Granted that polls are snapshots, the shift to the PC should have been picked up by at least some of these polls since it is implausible (that infamous word again) that all that tsunamic shift to the PC was last minute.

  5. Kelly says:

    Don’t forget, Harper’s hand-picked candidate for Calgary Mayor also got his ass handed to him on a platter by a smart, cosmopolitan, guy who doesn’t fit the phony Alberta stereotype. Nobody supposedly saw that coming either.

    Having lived and studied there and still having relatives there, Alberta is nowhere near as conservative as some people would have you believe. Oh yeah and the next time someone tells you that your belief that there is a positive role for a progressive government in Alberta is “un-Albertan”, just tell them that everyone who voted for Nenshi, and for the NDP, Liberal, GREEN, Alberta and REDFORD PCs in the last election has basically told them to go get shagged.

  6. Olmanhall says:

    Polls my ass!! I beleive these particular ‘polls’ were propaganda telling the voters ‘Wild Rose is going to win big and if you vote for anyone else you will be a LOOSER! You don’t want to be a LOOSER do you?’ The voters saw through it and now the ‘pollsters’ are trying to restore any credibility they might have had by saying people lied to them.

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