Did Christy Clark really beat the odds?

Tease the day: Polls told us the B.C. premier would lose, but why should we believe them?


Jonathan Hayward/CP

Christy Clark beat the odds yesterday, you know. The B.C. premier, who’d been written off for dead, scored an upset, a come-from-behind victory for the ages that enshrined her as a provincial political legend.

There’s an alternate theory here: Maybe Clark, whose Liberals secured 50 seats in the legislature after the votes were counted—a fourth consecutive majority government for the party—simply won an election by getting out the vote and doing it more efficiently than her opponents. Maybe.

The common storyline, the one about stunning upsets and comebacks, is based on the notion that the Liberals were 20 points behind the NDP when the campaign began, and still several points down on the eve of the election. The Liberals never led a poll. They always trailed. They were supposed to lose. Except they didn’t.

Immediately, tracking polls and the pollsters behind them were in the spotlight, because they all got it wrong. It’s all reminiscent of the 2012 Alberta election, some are saying, where polls failed to track a last-minute dash to Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservatives that sealed the fate of the apparently favoured Wildrose Party.

Clark, for her part, thinks “people are going to re-examine the truthfulness of polls.” Hamish Telford, a political scientist at the University of the Fraser Valley, says pollsters “are going to have come clean and give us an explanation.”

Maybe so. But no matter the problems with methodology, accuracy, and overall worth of horse-race obsession, these kinds of polls are sticking around. The morning-after reflection on polling happened after the Alberta election, and it’s happening this morning. But we all know what will happen tomorrow: someone will release a national poll, and either Justin Trudeau or Stephen Harper will come out on top, and analysts will analyze that “result” to death.

And it will set the stage for the next “upset” or “comeback” or “stunning defeat” in two years. Because that sounds exciting.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with revelations that SNC-Lavalin recorded overseas bribes as consulting costs. The National Post fronts actress Angelina Jolie’s preventative mastectomy. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the apparent targeted killing of Tim Bosma, a 32-year-old Ancaster, Ont., man who was last seen on May 6. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the high cost of Canada’s planned Arctic patrol ships. iPolitics fronts the B.C. Liberals’ election win, and Premier Christy Clark’s loss in her own riding. CBC.ca leads with the B.C. Liberals’ re-election in British Columbia. National Newswatch showcases the Canadian Press story about the B.C. election.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Diplomacy. Canada’s naming its first ambassador to Somalia in over 20 years. David Angell, who is already the Canadian envoy in Kenya, will assume the new responsibility. 2. Entrepreneurs. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is headed to Silicon Valley, where he’ll attempt to lure high-tech entrepreneurs to Canada using a new visa plan.
3. Syria. A coalition of humanitarian groups is appealing directly to the federal government, as well as all Canadians, to do more about the humanitarian crisis in Syria. 4. Terrorism. Mauritanian officials are seeking a 10-year sentence for Aaron Yoon, the 24-year-old man who allegedly left Canada to commit terrorist acts—charges he denies.


Did Christy Clark really beat the odds?

  1. simply won an election by getting out the vote and doing it more efficiently than her opponents.
    Perhaps. What was the voter turnout of the election?
    Also, the pollsters were somewhat wrong on the Quebec election. While they predicted the PQ to win, the Liberals were supposed to do far worse than they did (they lost to the PQ by only 2 seats and .5% of the total vote, despite polls showing a much greater loss).
    So we can probably add the recent QC election to the BC and Alta elections that pollsters got wrong.

  2. The pollsters and punditry are looking foolish these days. Let’s not forget the last federal election where the pollsters were predicting a Conservative minority or outright loss. The day of polling by robo calls is rapidly coming to an end. The polling industry needs to do something different. Otherwise they risk becoming irrelevant.
    This is a message to Mulcair and his kiddie caucus that they should not assume they are the government in waiting. The voting public may have a different idea. Likewise for the dauphin who is running the Liberal party. He would be wise not to allow polls to influence his thinking. Stephen Harper is a formidable opponent as we all know. He knows better than anyone else where his party stands riding by riding. Let there be no doubt.

    • “He knows better than anyone else where his party stands riding by riding.”

      This may be so . . . I suppose that knowledge is driving the CPC to the depths of shrillness and negativity toward JT that we have been seeing of late?

  3. In public, so many people seem to be adhering to that which is ‘trendy’ (Dix stirring up the anti pipeline line; Justin stirring up the Harper Hate) but when push comes to shove, when the voters are standing behind that curtain for privacy, they will think differently. That’s what happened here.

    It is ridiculous to say that one party over another was able to get the vote out and doing it more efficiently than the other parties. That way of thinking shows how much the media gets it wrong because they are out of touch, simply because they start looking for reasons which don’t exist.

    • In fairness, I wrote “maybe” twice in that paragraph; basically just
      throwing that out there as food for thought. I don’t claim any wisdom
      about how or why the result came to be—just that polls are things that
      dominate news cycles, regardless of repeated conversations challenging
      that way of things, and maybe there’s more to it than Clark as an
      eleventh-hour comeback kid.

      • Fairness don’t enter into it. FV doesn’t even get out of bed for two “maybes”, let alone actually pay them any heed.

    • “It is ridiculous to say that one party over another was able to get the
      vote out and doing it more efficiently than the other parties.”


      It’s exactly what Don McRae just said this morning when asked how he managed to win his riding. It’s consistent with my experience – at least two Liberal voter ID calls to my household and not a peep from the NDP.

  4. Today, the dippers in BC are whining about the poor voter turn-out as if that was the reason for their loss in the election. Using that analogy, the Liberals may very well have done a better job of getting their supporters out to the polls, maybe not. I think it was more a matter of Dixie not being able to sell his ideas to a BC voters……..many who still remember the scandal plagued gov of Glen Clark.

  5. I think the robo-call surveys are going to continue to be inaccurate, because of the response delay when people pick up the phone. I get so many darned calls that have a delayed response, and when I hear nothing, I hang up right away. Nobody gets to survey me. I expect there are a lot of people like me who do the same. Which means the pollsters (and others) get responses only from those like talking to a computer, which means you’ve probably got lousy results.

  6. Sounds plausible NTV…the fact that Christy went straight for the truthfulness of pollsters, as opposed to say their methodology or other factors, tells you alot about Christy Clark.
    She’s so partisan and underhanded it wouldn’t occur to her that others might be just doing their jobs as best they can.

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