What's in a poll?

  Posted in Anu Online Posted by CBC News on May 4, 2009 08:09 AM |

Okay at the beginning of the election campaign, a poll showed the BC Liberals had a big lead over the BC NDP. A seventeen point lead to be exact.

But a more recent poll says ...the lead isn't as big. It's only 3 points.

So are people changing their minds or is something else at play?
Well it could be that people are having a change of heart....
But I'd put my money on the "something else".

Both these polls talked to British Columbians.
And asked them similar questions.

But the difference was "how" the polls were conducted.

The first poll showing the BC Liberals with a big lead was done by The Mustell Group. It conducted the poll the good old-fashioned way, by phone.

The most recent poll was done by Angus Reid Strategies...and conducted entirely online!
This isn't the first election Angus Reid Strategies has taken on.
In the last federal election the company says it had the closest numbers to the actual results of the election.

So are online polls better?
Not necessarily according to Evi Mustell. She says about 90% of British Columbians have a land line...so when it comes to election polling, the phone is the better way to go.

But Mario Canseco with Angus Reid Strategies says...no way! Online polls are better.
It's simple...the people they use to poll are more likely to want to complete a poll, since they've signed up for it. And Mario says online polling is more convenient, complete it at your own pace and time, which means no more calls at dinner time. Now that's a plus!

But Mustell says the pool of people the online pollsters pull from is flawed...because the people have signed up. Okay, I can see where she's coming from.

But Mario says the people who make up the pool are the same type who would answer a poll on the phone. It just means they don't have to deal with hang-ups. Makes sense, no?

Confused yet?

I still don't know which way of polling is better or should I say more accurate?
I guess we'll all just have to wait until Election Day to see who has the closest results.

In the meantime, which method of polling do you think is better, online or by phone?
I'd love to hear what you think!