Were older voters the target? - Macleans.ca

Were older voters the target?


The Star overhears the Elections Canada investigation.

“Every single person I’ve contacted has been (born) between 1947 and 1949,” said one unidentified Elections Canada employee who was following up on the complaints Friday morning.

The Star inadvertently overheard a number of telephone conversations between the woman and complainants located across the country while a reporter was reviewing election expense records at Elections Canada’s Ottawa offices. The questions put to complainants included the content of the robocall, the date it was received and whether that person was able to recall or record telephone number from which the call came. The final question, of those calls that could be heard by the Star, was for the complainants’ age.


Were older voters the target?

  1. If one believes that these voters were targeted based on a first set of robocalls asking to identify as Conservative or opposition supporters, I think any finding that seniors were affected speaks more to correlation than causation.  Would anyone disagree with the following:

    1) Seniors are more likely to have landlines than younger people (and as such, be robocalled).
    2) Seniors are more likely to listen/co-operate with robocallers/telemarketers/etc, whereas younger people are more likely to hang up.

    • I wouldn’t disagree with your points but I would make a couple of additional points that do suggest causation.

      3) Seniors vote in much greater proportion than the general public. If senior voters turn out at 80% & younger voters turn out at 30% then you increase the efficacy of your suppression calls be focusing on the seniors. Why waste your time on younger folks who have a 70% chance of suppressing themselves, right?

      4) Seniors are always the preferred targets for swindlers.

      • Still not convincing causation wise. Here’s another correlation tidbit: older people are more likely to answer polls, and everyone else just says no or hangs up. I Think Matlock has a good bead on this thing. Voter preference is the driving force, not age.

        • I’m with Matlock on this, that’s exactly what occurred to me when I saw Wherry’s post.  Robocalls are overwhelmingly aimed at land lines, because those are the phone numbers which are most easily publicly available.  Older people are overwhelmingly overrepresented with respect to landline use.  Older people also tend to actually use and answer land lines.  Anyone who’s worked in polling will vouch for that.  So it comes as no surprise that older people would be overrepresented in the recipients of these robocalls, and as a result, in the complainants.

          Older people, btw, also tend to be overrepresented on voter’s lists, for various reasons (e.g., stability of residence, job stability, they pay property taxes etc.).

      • And wasn’t RMG using callers and lists from the charity raising industry who target seniors? 

      • Yes, seniors are always the preferred targets for swindlers….so why not pick ‘real’ seniors….people 63, 64, and 65 years of age are not exactly swindler material… in fact, two of those age groups are NOT seniors.   If these “people” had specific data available, wouldn’t they target the seniors who are most likely to be easily thwarted by their scheme…the “older” seniors?

        • Unless you consider that these are people who were 19-21 during Woodstuck. Drug addled hippies are both unlikely to vote Tory, and easily confused.

      • Seniors tend to vote c/Conservative, while youth tend to vote liberal/left, so why target a demographic that votes heavily in your favour?

        From Ekos: In the last federal election, the Conservative Party of Canada virtually owned the senior vote in Ontario with nearly twice the support that the Liberals found there. The federal Conservatives also had a large lead with boomers, though they fared relatively poorly with younger voters (who mostly stayed home).

        •  probably because they were able to control for that vector by also targeting LIBERAL older people.

          • But there weren’t systematic robocalls outside of Guelph. So what happened in the other 307/308ths of Canada?

    • I believe the focus of this may be to perpetuate the notion that only Liberals were called. 


      1) ignoring the fact that Conservatives recieved such calls;
      2) focusing the microscope of scrutiny solely on the Conservatives on the assumption that they are to blame; and
      3) in no way scrutinizing the involvement of the oppositions parties in this, and the coordinated effort to make political hay out of this,

      all roads of media reportage lead to blaming the Conservatives, when in fact there is no positive evidence to support the attack on conservatives and when there is positive evidence that the Conservative party would not have done it.

      Poltical parties are supposed to be partisan.  They are merely doing their jobs.  However, when journalists write stories at the behest of the parties with whom they agree philisophically, the institution is eroded.  It is no wonder virtually every recent study and survey has shown a deep disprespt and distrust of the media. 

      Whatever semblence of professionalism the media had, they shed some time ago by deciding their role was to, in their minds, make a difference, instead of being objective perveyors of informative facts.  Since they are all overwhelmingly left leaning, making a difference means supporting the leftist cause.

      The truly insedious aspect of bias is the difficulty of self policing – which is why in all professions where there is a conflict the professional withdraws oneself from involvement.  In the case of journalism, the left leaning reporter eagerly jumps into the fray, oblivious to the fact that he or she has become an advocate.

      •  Hi chet.

        1)  Do you have evidence of a Conservative VOTER coming forward with such allegations?  The only ‘evidence’ I have heard of this are comments by Dean Del Mastro, Shelly Glover, and Patricia Davidson.  If we aren’t to take Liberal/NDP MPs at their word, I’m not taking theirs either.
        2) Probably because Elections Canada’s investigation is indeed focusing on the Conservatives.  Elections Canada has not asked for any records from the opposition parties (to date, anyways).
        3) I think there has been many columns commenting on the opposition milking this for all it’s worth and whether or not that’s appropriate (Ibbitson, Wente,… anything in the Sun).

        • I understand your desire to defend the left leaning media.  As a partisan supporter, your concern lies with advancing your ideological cause, and if the media is willing to help out, all the better. 

          However, in the long run, such lack of scrutiny towards the left leaning parties is fleeting, if not counter productive.  For instance, to the majority of Canadians the opposition motion effectively declaring Harper undemocratic was viewed for what it was: partisan gamesmanship leading up to an election.  The Ottawa media was so out of touch, so imbued with the opposition position, they led the opposition supporters to believe that there was a real democratic crises.  Leaving leftists shocked and dismayed that Harper cruised to victory in the election.

          Being told what you want to hear is a poor substitute for being told what you ought to hear. 

          • Well said.
            The ironic part is : The more the media reinforce the hysteria of the opposition supporters, then the more the opposition parties become out of touch with reality.

          • Hearing what you want to hear is a poor substitute for being open-minded.

            For example, Matlock specifically said “anything in the Sun” and yet you continued to rant about “left-leaning media” – leaving one to conclude you either think the Sun is left-leaning… or you just weren’t paying attention.

          • Where I am, I cannot even get Sun TV.  The left leaning CBC?  That’s on channel 2.  The very first channel.  The one you go to by default.

            The Star, Globe, the other major (non Sun) dailies.  Morever the news services like Reuters, and AP feed into all papers including the Sun.  All overwhelmingly left leaning. 

            I’m always fascinated with the pointing out of the Sun, as if the fact that all news isn’t 100% left leaning should make non leftists happy.  “Here, here is your 5% morsel, now be thankful it isn’t 1%”.  Fascinating indeed.

          • @ec10f33688da626b679b76045ec1210e:disqus , aka chet, aka chifferton.

            “Where I am, I cannot even get Sun TV.  The left leaning CBC?  That’s on channel 2.”

            … and I think that right there spells out the market’s demand for such a news service.

    • 1)  Assertion.  Do you have numbers?  Remember that we’re talking about people 62+ compared to people 62-.  I’d frankly be quite surprised if the group aged 40-60 (maybe dipping as low as 35) did not have land-lines in similar proportion to the 60+ crowd.

      2)  Assertion.

  2. Seniors vote way more than everyone else, so it makes sense that they would be part of the suppression campaign. It is the most efficient use of the fraudsters money. 

  3. xkcd ~ Correlation:

    man: I used to think correlation implied causation. Then I took a statistics class. Now I don’t.
    woman: Sounds like the class helped.
    man: Well, maybe.

  4. ““Every single person I’ve contacted has been (born) between 1947 and 1949” 

    Isn’t that a little age specific? Why would people aged 63-65 be targeted compared to any other 2 yr age bracket?

    •  Not only is it age specific, it’s empirical and not supported by research in any form. Might just be that person’s thinking on his experience.
      Most seniors I know are born in the 1940’s, educated in the 1960’s, raising kids in the 1970’s and building their futures in the 80’s and 90’s. They are a pretty savvy bunch having lived through the last of WW2, the Cold War, the Kennedy/King assassinations, Vietnam, Watergate, the fall of Communism, the fall of Capitalism and all the rest of that half century’s history. To think they are naive and targets for scams, is just plain dumb.

      • It is especially dumb in Guelph, where an appreciable percentage of Liberal voters aged 63-65 would be professors. 

    • A shot-in-the-dark theory:

      The [probably Tory] voter registry data is probably in a format like Excel. Pierre Jones sorted the data by age, and cut off people younger than 62 (it is possible that age data was approximate as well, so he was aiming for 65+ voters, or alternately he might not have had comprehensive age data – only some measure that could tell if somebody was 63-65 but not older/younger), and started at the top of the remaining list. He decided to call a large number of seniors but not all seniors. 
      According to the Census, 24.5% of the 60+ population in Guelph is aged 60-64. Another 18.9% are aged 65-69. So if you were aiming to call say, 15% of all seniors, and started by order of age, it is pretty reasonable that you’d only get from 63-65. 

  5. I’m not sure what to make of this all. I was born in 1945, I never answer surveys, I always hang up on robocalls without listening to find out what they’re about. I never do surveys. And I’ve never voted Conservative. But I do vote every time we have an election. Sometimes I even vote for the winnig candidate, alas not last May.