Poll­sters were cred­i­ble in On­tario’s elec­tion

The Expositor (Brantford) - - OPINION - LORRIE GOLDSTEIN lgo­ld­stein@ post­media. com

When poll­sters blow an elec­tion call we’re on them like ugly on a dog, so when they do a pretty good job, we should ac­knowl­edge that.

On that note, in last week’s June 7 On­tario elec­tion, the polls were rea­son­ably ac­cu­rate and con­sis­tent, gen­er­ally indi­cat­ing an early NDP surge on the front- run­ning Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives that fal­tered near the end, giv­ing the PCs a com­fort­able ma­jor­ity govern­ment, with the Lib­er­als a dis­tant third from start to fin­ish.

The polls did tend to slightly un­der­es­ti­mate PC strength and over­es­ti­mate NDP sup­port at the end, and there was one ap­par­ent rogue poll in mid- cam­paign that briefly threw the elec­tion into a tizzy.

It pre­dicted an NDP ma­jor­ity govern­ment, prompt­ing com­plaints from the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives about in­ac­cu­rate polling and me­dia re­port­ing.

For com­par­a­tive pur­poses, the un­of­fi­cial re­sults from Elec­tions On­tario, with 8,410 of 8,419 polls re­port­ing for the June 7 elec­tion, were as fol­lows:

Per­cent­age of vote won: PCs 40.49 per cent, NDP 33.57 per cent, Lib­er­als 19.59 per cent, Greens 4.6 per­cent.

Seats won: PCs 76, NDP 40, Lib­er­als seven, Greens one.

Fo­rum Re­search did well over­all, hav­ing pre­dicted on June 6 that the PCs would re­ceive 39 per cent of the vote, NDP 34, Lib­er­als 21, Greens five.

Fo­rum also came close on the more dif­fi­cult pre­dic­tion of seat counts, pre­dict­ing 76 for the PCs, NDP 39 and Lib­er­als nine.

The only blem­ish for Fo­rum was a one- day phone poll of 906 On­tar­i­ans con­ducted May 23 and re­leased May 25, which pre­dicted an NDP ma­jor­ity govern­ment, with NDP sup­port at 47 per cent, PCs 33, Lib­er­als 14 and Greens four, and the NDP win­ning 79 seats, PCs 40 and Lib­er­als five.

That prompted com­plaints from the PCs that poll­sters in gen­eral, as well as the me­dia, were out to get Doug Ford, but the con­tro­versy died down when sub­se­quent Fo­rum polls re­ported re­sults sim­i­lar to the gen­eral con­sen­sus, indi­cat­ing a close race be­tween the PCs and NDP in pop­u­lar sup­port, but with the seat counts work­ing to the ad­van­tage of the Tories be­cause of their more ef­fi­cient voter dis­tri­bu­tion.

EKOS also did well, pre­dict­ing on June 6, the day be­fore the vote, 39.1 per cent sup­port for the PCs, 35.1 for the NDP, 18.9 for the Lib­er­als and five for the Greens, with seat counts of 73 PC, 45 NDP, five Lib­er­als and ( the only poll­ster I fol­lowed to do so, ac­cu­rately) one for the Greens.

Main­street Re­search was also cred­i­ble, pre­dict­ing on June 6 the PCs would win 39.2 per cent of the vote, NDP 33.1, Lib­er­als 20.1, Greens 5.6 and a PC ma­jor­ity govern­ment, although it did not spec­u­late on seats.

Ip­sos also cor­rectly pre­dicted a Tory ma­jor­ity govern­ment in its poll re­leased on June 6, show­ing the PCs at 39 per cent, NDP 36, Lib­er­als 19 and Greens and other par­ties six.

CBC’s Poll Tracker, an ag­gre­ga­tor of all pub­licly avail­able polling data re­leased dur­ing the cam­paign, fin­ished re­spectably, its fi­nal pre­dic­tions on June 6 be­ing 38.7 per cent for the PCs, NDP 35.5, Lib­er­als 19.6 and Greens 4.9, with a seat count of PCs 78, NDP 45 and Lib­er­als one.

Leger on June 5 put the pop­u­lar vote at PCs 39 per cent, NDP 38 and Lib­er­als 18, not­ing a sta­tis­ti­cal tie played to the ad­van­tage of the PCs, while Pol­lara’s fi­nal num­ber were PCs 38 per cent, NDP 38 and Lib­er­als 17.

Thus, the seven poll­sters I fol­lowed were rea­son­ably ac­cu­rate and none hu­mil­i­ated them­selves.

On an­other pos­i­tive note, voter turnout was 58 per cent, well above the 51.3 per cent recorded in the 2014 elec­tion and the high­est turnout since 1999’ s 58.3 per cent, which is healthy for democ­racy.

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