Making a list, checking it twice

Earlier today, Mustel Research Group Ltd. principal Evi Mustel explained why her polling shows the provincial Conservatives at two percent, while Angus Reid Strategies Inc. has them at seven: "Our methodology is such that we don't read the party names out. Every polling company has a little bit of a different approach. So I think when you read parties out - as other polls have done - you probably would get a little sort of inflated response for Conservatives," she said. But, in an email, Angus Reid research director Hamish Marshall disputed that explanation.

Mr. Marshall stated, "As you know Angus Reid Strategies conducts our polls online, so no one is 'read' anything. In our BC polls the respondents get a choice of the main parties (BC Liberals, BC NDP and Greens) and an 'other' choice. If someone chooses 'other' then they are shown a list of smaller parties, including the BC Conservatives. Someone has to be looking for an alternative to the main parties and choose other to see the list. Nowhere is it indicated that by choosing 'other' a list of smaller parties will be shown."

The following is a complete copy of that email.

------ Forwarded Message
From: Hamish Marshall
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2009 12:35:32 -0700
To: Sean Holman
Subject: BC Conservatives at 7%

Sean,

I read your post about how Angus Reid Strategies have the BC Conservatives at 7% and Mustel has them at 2%. Contrary to what is hinted at we did not "read out" the name of Conservatives to our respondents. As you know Angus Reid Strategies conducts our polls online, so no one is "read" anything. In our BC polls the respondents get a choice of the main parties (BC Liberals, BC NDP and Greens) and an "other" choice. If someone chooses "other" then they are shown a list of smaller parties, including the BC Conservatives. Someone has to be looking for an alternative to the main parties and choose other to see the list. Nowhere is it indicated that by choosing "other" a list of smaller parties will be shown.

What is also interesting is when we asked people which party they voted for in May, only 3% of respondents chose the BC Conservatives (again after the same "other" process) - 3% is a bit much but is well within the margin of error of the 2.2% the BC Conservatives got on Election day.

Clearly this shows that a non-trivial part of the BC Liberal coalition is at least considering other options.

The last BC Election and Federal Election (and Nova Scotia and Quebec) have shown Angus Reid Strategies to be the most accurate polling firm in Canada, and we are proud of and stand by our results and our methodology.

If you have any questions or would like to chat more about this, please give me a call or send an email.

Best,

HAMISH I. MARSHALL
Research Director, Public Affairs * Angus Reid Strategies

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