The CBC Pollcast, hosted by CBC poll analyst Éric Grenier, explores the world of electoral politics, political polls and the trends they reveal.


Kevin O'Leary is the favourite for the Conservative leadership, says one poll. Only he can defeat Justin Trudeau, says another. A majority of Canadians aren't familiar with most of the 14 contestants in the running, according to a third.

But do these polls tell us much about who will actually win the Conservative leadership race?

While most leadership race polling takes all Canadians or supporters of a party as its sample, in the end the only people who will cast a ballot in the upcoming Conservative and NDP leadership votes are party members.

A small and dwindling portion of the population, members are difficult for pollsters to find — so the potential for pollsters to gauge a leadership race correctly is limited.

And it isn't much easier for those in the midst of a leadership campaign.

To discuss the challenges of polling a leadership race, as well as the role of the media in reporting on these polls, host Éric Grenier is joined by Paul Adams, associate professor of journalism at Carleton University and David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.

Listen to the full discussion above — or subscribe to the CBC Pollcast and listen to past episodes.

Follow Paul Adams, David Coletto and Éric Grenier on Twitter.