Making sense out of polls

The true story told by the DataPath and the Liberal Gandalf polls is hard to determine. Polling in the Yukon tends to be unreliable because our population and the sample sizes are too small...

The true story told by the DataPath and the Liberal Gandalf polls is hard to determine. Polling in the Yukon tends to be unreliable because our population and the sample sizes are too small from which to make statistical predictions. An example of this unreliability is the DataPath results that predicted a substantial win by our federal Liberal candidate in 2011. We all know how that election turned out, with the surprisingly huge Liberal loss. Hence, we see the unreliability of these polls in such a small territory with such a small sample size. The margin of error in these polls is so large that the recent results indicate it is still a statistical three-way race.

If these poll results are supposed to help those who want to vote strategically, then they are a failure. It is impossible to vote strategically unless one has information at the constituency (riding) level, and there is none of this in these polls. If the poll results are to be used to insinuate a red wave, then they fail on this account as well. In the Yukon it is the NDP that has an electoral track record and governing experience to be proud of. The Liberals are the fringe underdog, having been elected only once for a period of 31 months. At the national level, it’s the other way around, so the two cannot be compared.

What does this mean in real life, and not in the polls? It means that the values-driven voters are still going to vote their conscience. Most people in the Yukon have deeply held values that they will not compromise.

Only the Yukon NDP has promised to develop a proposal to replace our outdated first-past-the-post voting system. The Yukon Liberals have said they’ll look at options for territorial electoral reform. We must examine how well the process of considering options is going, on the federal level. It looks like time is running out for electoral reform prior to the next federal election. The federal Liberal tactic of delay on this issue and others, is not a good model for our territory.

How can we make sense of it all? Ignore the polls, read the platforms, and vote your conscience.

Corliss Burke,

Whitehorse

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