British Columbia

Internal B.C. Liberal poll projected 48 seats before election

Poll results were known by about a dozen party insiders heading into election night.
Dimitri Pantazopoulos, B.C. Liberal internal poll runner.

 While the rest of British Columbia was shocked by the B.C. Liberal party's majority victory in Tuesday's election, the man in charge of the party's internal polling was not.

Dimitri Pantazopoulos, strategist and internal poll runner for the B.C. Liberals, said he predicted his party would win 48 seats, only two off the actual result. That, in spite of the fact, that nearly every other pollster was calling for an NDP landslide.

"When you see these other polls come out, like everyone else, you start to question, maybe there's something we didn't do right," said Pantazopoulos in an interview with Stephen Quinn, the host of  'On the Coast' on CBC Radio One.

"At the end of the day you get paid to believe your own numbers and that's ultimately where we ended up, so we're quite happy about that."

Pantazopoulos says where his findings differ from the other pollsters is that he relies entirely on traditional telephone polling rather than online research. He says that approach allows him to access a wider swath of the electorate.

"Every resident of the province with a phone line has an equal chance of being selected," said the pollster. "There's probably more people who answer their phone than belong to any particular internet panel or participate in online surveys."

When asked whether traditional telephone polling excludes younger voters who do not own landline phones, Pantazopoulos responded that low youth voter turnout addresses that concern.

"The sad reality is that young people don't vote."

The B.C. Liberal pollster says the pre-election results were shared with about eight party insiders, but political candidates would not have been aware of them.

When it comes to media coverage of political polling, Pantazopoulos said it's important for journalists to look past the numbers.

"The best strategy for polling firms and for the media is not to focus on the horse race number, but rather to focus on what underlies it," said Pantazopoulos.

"At the end of the day the more important thing is understanding what motivates people to vote, and how to actually communicate with people and what are the underlying factors that will turn the undecideds one way or another."

CBC Radio One's 'On the Coast' with host Stephen Quinn is on the air every weekday between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.