Madness behind the Method: What this Blog Is/Isn’t
He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass.
-Edgar R. Fiedler
This is not a blog about predicting election outcomes.
This is a blog that looks at opinions, attitudes and Canadian voting behaviour from a historical perspective.
As a researcher and student of public opinion I felt there was a shortage of analysis and content that took into account how different issues were viewed by the Canadian electorate in past elections and to what extent those issues helped influence why voters casted their ballots the way they did.
I find that pollsters are really good at answering the question: where are we today as voters? What I intend to do with this blog is dig into the question: where were we as voters?
Today’s consumers of news media are provided with copious amounts of opinion data from pollsters (who might I add take their job very seriously and are mentors as much as they are competitors) who focus their efforts on encapsulating public opinion in the present. That present data is subsequently misused and misinterpreted on a frequent basis as predictions about future outcomes and not as snapshots in time.
What’s missing from the overall discussion is an understanding of how we got to where we are today.
Those who know me know that I eschew the use of polling as a predictive tool. Predictions about the future made with today’s data are subject to unforeseen variables and unknown unknowns. My use of polling as a public affairs professional is not to find out who’s ahead or behind on an issue, but to find out why different segments of the market, population or electorate view certain issues a certain way and how those opinions and attitudes can be acted upon by those who need to change it.
I admit, I spend a great deal of my time thinking about the future. It’s near impossible not to. However, I believe the way around this is to reduce the overall number of assumptions, generalizations or predictions we make and to base the assumptions that we do make on account of how different issues were being discussed in different elections, how people felt about those issues at that point in time and how those voters subsequently voted.
The lion’s share of the data used in this blog comes from the Canadian Election Study. The CES is designed and executed by political scientists from across Canada and has been collecting opinion data from Canadians since the 1960s. It served as my main source of data during my time in graduate school at Wilfrid Laurier University and is to this day a highly prized source of information on Canadian public opinion.
Thank you for reading.
Delphi Polling & Consulting