In Depth

Teasing the numbers in our Road Ahead poll

We will be telling the stories of the poll, and what people in our province think, beginning this Wednesday and running for just over a week.

Imagine a spreadsheet with 66 columns and 1,200 rows

Data scientist John Santos pores over poll results. (Brooks DeCillia/CBC)

We joked about it being like Christmas — a "number nerd" Christmas — the day we got all the data from our CBC survey of 1,200 Albertans.

Imagine a spreadsheet with 66 columns and 1,200 rows. There are 700 pages of tables with almost 80,000 data points.

Just about one year out from the next provincial election, we wanted to know what people here in Wild Rose Country were thinking. What issues mattered to them, which didn't. How they feel about the economy, health care and politics. And, yes, who they say they will vote for. (Place your bets now.)

But in this survey, we really wanted to get to the "why" people say they are planning to vote a particular way.

It's all part of our ongoing Road Ahead series.

And we did a nifty podcast about this project, which you can hear here.

CBC News partnered with Calgary pollster Janet Brown to conduct the research. We gathered on a Saturday morning in her southeast office to make sense of all the data. We turned the boardroom into a "war room" of sorts. Flip charts, a project screen, and a bevy of laptops. And then we plunged into the numbers.

Data scientist John Santos, left, and pollster Janet Brown review advanced analytics from a CBC News poll of 1,200 Albertans about politics. (Brooks DeCillia/CBC)

The poll's response rate was a whopping 20.8 per cent. In this age of cellphones, and people who don't answer calls from unknown numbers, most live-operator telephone surveys average a response rate of 10 per cent.

How it's going to work

Now, we shared all this is with you as a bit of a tease of what's to come. 

We will be telling the stories of the poll and what people in our province think beginning Wednesday and running for just over a week.

Right now, there are a bunch of CBC journalists beavering away. For now, let's just say, "wow" are people worked up over pipelines, and "holy moly" is it interesting why Albertans say they know who the right person to lead the province is at this time.

You'll read all the stories here on CBC.ca/calgary and hear these stories and more on the Calgary Eyeopener and The Homestretch and see them on CBC Calgary News at 6. There will also be a phone-in (or two) on Alberta@Noon, where you can have your say on it all. We've even got another podcast coming to break down all the information. And there's a lot of it.

Thoughtful Albertans 

Trend Research, which conducted the actual phone surveys for our poll, was impressed with how thoughtful people were while taking the survey.

"Respondents were taking their time and really mulling over the statements because it was really interesting," said Anastasia Arabia, a partner with Trend Research.

And we at CBC News have followed up the survey with focus groups, to really explore why people feel the way they do about politics.

Anyway. Get set for our stories, analysis and opinion pieces about how Albertans feel about our lives, our province and our future.


Calgary: The Road Ahead is CBC Calgary's special focus on our city as it passes through the crucible of the downturn: the challenges we face, and the possible solutions as we explore what kind of Calgary we want to create. Have an idea? Email us at calgarytheroadahead@cbc.ca

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