How we misinterpret election polls

In the torrent of polls reporting different results about the federal election campaign, many of us in the media have either forgotten or never learned the most basic rule of interpreting data.

That is knowing the difference between “correlation” and “causation”.

  • Xavier

    Valid points but there’s one more: magical thinking. Voters want to be on the winning side, so intentionally skewed polls can become self-fulfilling. It’s a popular trick used by the MSM to promote liberal candidates, and since there are no truth checkers anymore it can be an effective tactic.

    • Like when the Star had polls stating it was a neck and neck race between Mayor Rob Ford and their Big Gay candidate.

      Ford won in a landslide.

      As you note the MSM like to report anything that supports their candidate, consequently we get a lot of “trends” that are completely out whack as after you start divining subsets of data the margin for error increases substantially.

      • Xavier

        When reading a poll, always look for a link to the polling data. You’d be surprised how often that isn’t available – a sure sign someone is trying to influence, not inform.

      • David Murrell

        Today (Saturday October 10) CTC News is reporting that the Nanos rolling poll has the Liberals way ahead of the Conservatives, 33 to 27 percent. So I hope you a right. CTV News is hyper for Trudeau, and here their poll is favoring Justin.

    • tom_billesley

      It didn’t work for Ed Milliband.

      • Xavier

        It doesn’t always work – but they always try.

  • Ron MacDonald

    Last night the national news showed people lining up to vote in the advanced polls, most of those voting were middle-aged and older, not a good sign for the Liberals and NDP.

    • Nope.

    • Denis

      same here in rural Saskatchewan. A steady stream into the advance polls.

  • marty_p

    Surprise……….The Toronto Star and Crescent endorses Turdeau for PM:

    And the shriveled up old Mo loving C*nt Hazel McCallion in Pakisauga does too:

    Justin is guaranteed to win now!

  • ontario john

    The downtown Toronto media elites are excited this morning that the nightly poll shows the Lieberals are way out in front. Yes, soon islam and leftists can run the country and turn Canada into another socialist islamic shithole. The biggest gains are in Ontario, where we Ontarians just love our unions, debt, sharia law and public spending.

    • Clausewitz

      Most of the poling in Ontario only comes from Urban regions. The rest of Ontario are tired that all of their taxes goes primarily to issues dealing solely with Toronto. The Urban/Rural split will be maintained, and I for one am looking to re-elect our CPC candidate.

    • marty_p

      And people made fun of George Bush for being a dimwit:

      Folks I present theToronto Star’s choice for future PM.

  • Solo712

    I am wearing a niqab and casting two ballots for Harper in the advance voting at two polling stations,