November 30, 2006


The Liberals should remain leaderless

(I wrote most of this post a couple weeks ago, and figured I'd better post it before the convention is over and done with...)

A fun exerpt from the SES poll results on how the different candidates would affect votes
A victory by Michael Ignatieff would make me:
...more likely to vote Liberal: 16%
...less likely to vote Liberal: 20%

A victory by Bob Rae would make me:
...more likely to vote Liberal: 20%
...less likely to vote Liberal: 24%

A victory by Stephane Dion would make me:
...more likely to vote Liberal: 14%
...less likely to vote Liberal: 23%

A victory by Gerard Kennedy would make me:
...more likely to vote Liberal: 12%
...less likely to vote Liberal: 21%
Note that every candidate has a higher negative effect than his positive one. Therefore, the obvious conclusion is that the Liberal Party will be better off if they never choose a leader at all. :)

Seriously though, this is a good example of how an leadership race tends to boost a party's poll numbers above what any individual candidate could receive. The supporters of each party each believe their guy can/will win, so their support for the party overall is firm. After a winner is declared, however, many supporters of the losing candidates are likely to leave. For example, a win by Ignatieff would drive the most left-wing Liberals to the NDP, while a Rae victory would drive away... well, pretty much anyone who set foot in Ontario between 1990 and 1995.

The artificial boost from having multiple potential leaders, combined with the extra media attention from the race and upcoming convention, have boosted the Liberals' poll numbers over the past few months. Once the reality of leading the Opposition sets in, I suspect those support levels will drop.

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November 25, 2006


Live leadership results

Dinning 29,470 (30.2%)
Morton 25,614 (26.2%)
Stelmach 14,967 (15.3%)
Oberg 11,638 (11.9%)
Hancock 7,595 (7.8%)
Norris 6,789 (6.9%)
Doerksen 873 (0.9%)
McPherson 744 (0.8%)
Total: 97,690

Dinning 24,688
Morton 22,796
Stelmach 13,948
Oberg 10,479
Hancock 6,970
Norris 5,960
Doerksen 816
McPherson 638
Total: 86,295

Dinning 20,837
Morton 18,897
Stelmach 11,523
Oberg 8,646
Hancock 6,387
Norris 5,324
Doerksen 764
McPherson 558

Dinning 13,659
Morton 10,781
Stelmach 9,241
Oberg 5,265
Norris 3,885
Hancock 3,595
Doerksen 579
McPherson 366

Dinning 10,281
Morton 8,364
Stelmach 5,747
Oberg 4,227
Norris 2,612
Hancock 2,269
Doerkson 526
McPherson 264

Dinning 5,545
Morton 4,406
Stelmach 3,193
Oberg 2,801
Norris 1,418
Hancock 1,324
Doerksen 144
McPherson 143

Dinning 2,724
Morton 2,573
Stelmach 1,689
Oberg 1,465
Norris 705
Hancock 496
Doerksen 97
McPherson 72

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November 03, 2006


The least worthless poll so far

If you've been following the Alberta Conservative leadership race, you probably know that the publicly-released polls consistently show Jim Dinning in the lead, with Lyle Oberg a fairly close second, and everyone else well behind.

Sounds like a two-way race, right? Wrong. Even a casual examination of the polling methodology reveals that they are simply asking Alberta residents in general who they like best, when the race will be decided entirely by the small fraction of Albertans who bother to buy a five dollar party membership in order to vote.

Polls like the one above essentially measure nothing but name recognition. Candidates like Dinning (who has been campaigning for the Premier's chair for close to a decade) and Oberg (who gets himself lots of free media via the Garth Turner method) do well in them, simply because the general public has actually heard their names.

A good example of how this method fails is the current federal Liberal leadership race (which happens to end on the same day as the Alberta PC one). Shortly before the delegate selection meetings, a similar poll showed Ken Dryden in the lead with 19% of the vote, Michael Ignatieff a distant third with 10%, and Gerard Kennedy waaay behind with 4%. Dryden, of course, was a famous NHL goalie, while Ignatieff was a university prof who has been out of the country for most of the last 30 years and Kennedy was an Ontario cabinet minister with little exposure outside of that province. However, when the ballots were counted, Dryden got less than 5% of party members' support, while Ignatieff received 30% and Kennedy finished third with 17%.

The Next Alberta Premier blog has an excellent analysis of what's wrong with these polls and the various factors which will make the actual results quite different.

So, what would be a good poll? So far, there's been only one poll that's even remotely worth considering. It was conducted by the Progressive Group for Independent Business, and was restricted to only those respondents who were PC Party members, and thus actually eligible to vote. The results were as follows:
Lyle Oberg: 17.2%
Ted Morton: 17.2%
Jim Dinning: 16.0%
Mark Norris: 8.1%
Dave Hancock: 7.5%
Ed Stelmach: 3.0%
Victor Doerksen: 1.3%
Gary McPherson: 0.7%
Alana Delong: 0.2%
Undecided: 16.1%
Wouldn't Say: 12.7%
Of course, this poll still has significant problems. For starters, it did not include any respondents from northern Alberta. More importantly, a leadership race means thousands upon thousands of membership cards will be sold, and so all the existing members at the beginning of the race will only be a minority of the total by the time it ends. As the media is starting to acknowledge, the race will be won by the campaign that sells the most memberships and gets them out to vote.

Nonetheless, by limiting their poll to those Albertans who are actually party members, the PGIB eliminated the single biggest problem with leadership race polling. This earns their poll the honour of being... The Least Worthless Poll So Far (tm).

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