Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lies, Damned Lies and Opinion Polls

The Toronto Star is trying a new tactic in its war on informed democracy today.

Up until now, opinion polling numbers have been reported as fraction of decided voters. So, for example, when they said that Ford had 39% of voter support, what they meant is that 39% of the 64% of the people polled said they would vote for Ford. Which actually means that 24% of the people polled said they would vote for Ford. This tactic was useful in scaring people into thinking they need to vote strategically – I would be willing to bet that almost none of the undecideds were undecided about whether they were going to vote for Ford.

But this morning, they have cleverly switched to simply reporting that second number. Before, if you added up the percentages for each candidate, you'd arrive at 100% and the undecideds would be extra. But today, if you add up the numbers for Ford, Smitherman, Pantalone and Rossi, you get 76% which is conspicuously close to the number claimed in the article as decided voters.

The Star is using this to show the runaway-freight-train-like momentum of Smitherman's campaign. Of course, if you look at the real numbers, Smitherman's current rating looks a lot like his old rating plus Sarah Thompson's rating. So basically, at this point, all the candidates are within the margin of error of their previous values. In fact, if you look back on the opinion polls, there has been basically no change since July, with the exception of Thompson's dropping out.

So again, if you want to feel all clever because your strategic vote kept the Stupidest Man Who Ever Ran For Mayor* out of office, go ahead. We all know how that ends.

Or, you can do your research, learn about the candidates plans for transit and if you still want to vote for Smitherman, we'll argue some more.

* I realize that there have probably been stupider candidates. It's even possible one of them won.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Can Clearly Not Choose The Candidate In Front Of You!

Yesterday a long-time supporter of Joe Pantalone flopped and is now officially endorsing Smitherman for mayor. Let's forget, for a moment, that the opinion polling numbers are biased, meaningless and poorly reported and just remember that voting "strategically" is a good way to get a bad mayor while feeling really clever and self-satisfied. I think that saying "I think Joe Pantalone would be the best mayor but I'm going to vote for Smitherman" puts in you a similar position to the Sicilian from the Princess Bride. And we all know how that ends:

In any case, I'm with Janet Davis who said “I am strategically voting. I’m strategically voting by endorsing Joe Pantalone, the best candidate for mayor and for the future of our city.”