17 May 2013

Don’t Lose Faith in Polling – CRA has accurately called elections for more than 20 years

HALIFAX:  With the recent results of the BC election and the inability of the majority of polls to accurately foresee the election outcome, there has been considerable discussion on the credibility of polling.

While many are quick to point out where results were wrong, little effort has been made to acknowledge when results have been correct.  For more than 20 years CRA has accurately catalogued voting intentions for various media sources.  As an example, the Company’s four most recent election polls in Atlantic Canada have accurately forecast the actual election outcomes:

Each of the above polls was conducted as a live telephone survey, approximately one week to 10 ten days prior to the election.

Within the research industry, there are a number of key polling factors that should be taken into consideration:

– Research Methodology (e.g. whether it is conducted by telephone or online). Note that the governing body of market research in Canada, MRIA, sets standards that prohibit attributing margins of sampling error to most online panel research. Despite this, many online polls of the general public cite a margin of error.

– Timing. A week can be a long time in politics. In highly contentious elections, voting intentions can shift dramatically in the final days of a campaign based on attack ads and party positioning, and so on.

– Sampling. Having random, representative samples is crucial.

While CRA conducts considerable telephone and online research, we have chosen telephone as our preferred methodology for election polling, and whenever we need to project to a population with statistical reliability. That said, CRA continues to evaluate new methodologies to ensure the poll results it releases can be trusted.

For more information, please contact:

Don Mills, Chairman and CEO at (902) 493-3838 dmills@cra.ca

Margaret Brigley, President and COO at (902) 493-3830 mbrigley@cra.ca

CRA Corporate Research Associates