Poll states the obvious – this campaign is a dogfight

Here we go. The Vancouver Sun is trumpeting a poll on the front page that shows the NDP with a 10-point lead.

I could probably drive a truck through the methodology of this poll. But that’s not the point.

The point is: of course the NDP can win! That is an eternal truth of BC politics.

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It’s a dogfight this time.

In February, I addressed the BC Liberal provincial council where all of the campaigners were in town for a pre-election briefing. I said there what I say now: the NDP get 40% of the vote before they get out of bed in the morning. Or 39% anyway. They are always lurking in the shadows.

In 10 of the last 11 BC elections, the NDP have hit the 39% threshold. They won an election with 39% in 1996. In the past three elections, it hasn’t been enough as the BC Liberals have finished about 4-points ahead each time. But we know they can win. I respect that and I respect them. They are tough adversaries.

An NDP friend of mine told me last fall that the only time he believed the NDP could win was when he talked to me! The NDP seemed down in the dumps. The set-up for the election is reversed this time – the underdog became the overdog and vice versa. Conventional wisdom is a powerful thing and most observers felt the BC Liberals were cruising to victory in 2017. I have never felt that this was going to be easy. My nickname “Eeyore” is borne from hard-luck lessons on the campaign trail over the years.

So, 10-point lead? My advice to BC Liberal followers and other interested voters is to believe this snapshot could be real, midway through the campaign.

What does this mean? The BC Liberals have led a lonely crusade to expose the NDP platform dare, which is to promise everything to everyone without the means to pay for it, and hoping they won’t get caught. Now, you would think the media and general scrutiny would increase, and in recent days, the NDP has been marked up a bit with more scrutiny about the role of the Steelworkers and nagging questions about how to pay for eliminating  Medical Services Premiums. I also believe that voters see the NDP’s flashy, dashy promise to eliminate Lower Mainland bridge tolls as unrealistic – “how are they going to pay for it” and “nothing comes for free” are voiced by voters at the doors and in focus groups.

With two weeks out to election day – and four days until the start of Advance Polls – it is clear that the stakes have been raised in this election.

The next two weeks will be vigorous. There is a lot on the line. We should always campaign like we are ten points behind.

I feel good about a lot of things in this campaign. The response at the doors is good. Morale is positive. We have a great team of candidates and they are working hard. My view is that the Premier has out-performed John Horgan at the radio debate and on the nightly news.   The BC Liberals have a strong core of seats and a resilient voter base. We’ve been here before and fought through it.

For those who believe BC is on the right track, take the Mainstreet poll as a serious wake-up call. Of course the NDP can win. Could election night be a 10-point NDP margin? 15-points in the Lower Mainland as this poll suggests? (I cannot resist point out that the poll does not reveal the number of interviews with key multicultural communities). I do not take these poll numbers literally, but I do not discount the potential of an NDP victory.  John Horgan’s sensitive hands are dangerously close to the reins of the economy.

In 2013, while we knew where we were at, we snuck up on the NDP, media, and conventional wisdom and had an election night surprise.

In 2017, its eyes wide open. There will be no sneaky NDP win. The NDP can only win now if it is an an out-in-the-open fully considered decision. The overdog and underdog have now converged. It’s simply now a dogfight … and that’s fine with me. An out-in-the open fight over BC’s economic future and what it will mean to BC families.

 

Trump can win, but Hillary will win (not!)

UPDATE, The Morning After:

After laying out all the reasons why Trump could win (for months and months), I blatantly ignored that evidence and confidently predicted (below) a decisive Clinton victory.  The power of conventional wisdom and the ‘echo chamber’ was never greater than the past week in US election politics, only to be overcome by the voters who ultimately decide.  For a matter of minutes, each voter is in charge – in the privacy of the voting booth. Each voter is equal – a single mother in Michigan or retiree in Pennsylvania has the same weight as a Hollywood celebrity or Wall Street trader.  And the voters have proved, again, that they are very much in charge.

ORIGINAL POST:

Can Trump win?  That’s the question on everyone’s mind.

Yes he can – he has a pathway.  But I’m betting that Hillary Clinton will be the 45th President of the United States and it won’t be that close.  In fact, I have put my money where my mouth is by betting $5 through BC Lottery Corporation’s online election pool (expires at 4pm Tuesday).

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45th and 42nd Presidents of the USA

First, a few starting points to consider when watching the results:

  1. It takes 270 electoral votes to win.  Just because a candidate wins the popular vote doesn’t mean they win the electoral college.  Clinton gaining a higher popular vote in Texas or running up the margin in California is meaningless in terms of electoral votes.  She needs to win states.
  2. There has been a lot of early voting in places like Florida, where early turnout was much higher than 2012 and mostly before the FBI bombshell.  That mitigates late-campaign swings to some extent.
  3. The electoral map is always in a state of flux.  In 1960, the GOP won California and Washington and the Democrats won Texas and most of the South.  This election, we will see some states switch allegiances (in both directions) compared to recent elections.
  4. No candidate in recent memory has been as much of a disruptor as Donald Trump.  He is using social media as blunt-force trauma compared to Hillary Clinton’s better-resourced, data-driven approach.  Trump has ‘macro-targeted’ and his winning scenario is moving non-university degree white voters en masse.
  5. How many times have we been surprised lately?  Justin Trudeau’s majority, NDP in Alberta, Jeremy Corbyn as UK Labour leader (twice), David Cameron’s majority then Brexit, the rise of Bernie, and the rise of Trump.  The people will make up their own mind, thank you very much.  Many voters simply don’t cooperate with polls.  Will ‘cranky won’t says’ make the difference?  That would be good for Trump.

The best available information

Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina says the Democrats have run 63,000 simulations every night since Obama’s first run for president.  The data available to the Democrats and the GOP is the product of hundreds of millions, if not, billions of dollars of investment.  The public polls may be indicative but, obviously, not wholly reliable.  This is why we mere mortals often get surprised.

Let’s take a look at the work of those trying to figure this out.

> Nate Silver 538 “Odds in HRC’s favour”

Nate Silver’s 538 website has closely tracked public polls.  He puts the odds at 71.9% Clinton, who he predicts will win about 302 electoral votes.  The New York Times ‘Upshot’ has Clinton’s odds at 84%.

In Silver’s winding road to victory graphic, Clinton crosses 270 in New Hampshire and pads the margin with Nevada, North Carolina, Florida, and the Maine 2nd district.

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> Real Clear Politics “Uncomfortably Close”

Real Clear Politics has Clinton at 203, Trump at 164, and Toss-Ups at 171.  When pushed into a “No Toss Ups” map, RCP has the margin at an incredibly close 272-266.

Huh?  Isn’t Clinton supposed to be further ahead?  RCP has Trump edging Clinton in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, and Arizona.  New Hampshire is in RCP’s Clinton column but has been flipping and flopping all week like a halibut sun bathing on a Boston Whaler.

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Here is the most recent State polling data on Real Clear Politics:

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> USC/LA Times Poll “The Outlier”

This nightly tracking poll (via online panel) has been a consistent outlier for months.   If Trump wins, they are geniuses – they have been about 4-5 points to Trump’s favour consistently compared to most pollsters.  This poll does provide a view of campaign momentum.  The RNC convention (7/25), subsequent self-induced Trump collapse (8/12), Clinton health scare (9/17), Billy Bush tape (10/17), and post FBI surge (today).

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Trump’s pathway

Building on my blog post last week (“Can Hillary lose? Not easily“), here are my revised prognostications going into Tuesday night.

The pathway for Trump to win 270 electoral college votes is not easy.  It would look something like this:

  1. Win all of Romney’s states (206).  Right now, he is forecasted to do that but has been vulnerable in North Carolina (15) and Arizona (11).  He seems to be pulling away in Arizona but NC is a toss up.  Utah is another wildcard where independent Evan McMullin has been in shouting distance of Trump.
  2. Consolidate consistent leads in Obama states (24).  Trump has been leading for a while in two states where Obama triumphed in 2012 – Ohio (18) and Iowa (6).  Now he’s up to 230 total votes with steps #1 and #2.
  3. Win Florida (29).  It would be very, very hard for Trump to win the White House without this state.  The polls are close.  Running total: 259.
  4. Find (11) votes from the following: New Hampshire (4), Maine 2nd district (1), and Nevada (6).  That’s 270 right there in Steps 1-4.  This is very similar to the RCP map above that has Trump at 266 – it’s just missing New Hampshire.
  5. Hail Mary scenario – If Trump’s carpet bombing of previously considered safe Democrat states succeeds, it changes the calculation: Pennsylvania (20) and Colorado (9) could add to or replace Florida’s 29 votes; Michigan (16) or Wisconsin (11) would replace or add to the smaller states in #4 above.  This would be white voters (college education or less) turning out “big time”.  This scenario is a tall order, indeed.

My prediction

I have unreliable data like the rest of you.  So this comes down to a gut feeling. Trump will not win all of the Romney states.  I believe he will lose North Carolina due to my perception of Clinton’s organizational advantage.  I’m shaky on that prediction, but I’m going with it.

Further, I believe Clinton will win Florida due to early voting and organization.  Nevada should also be in Clinton’s column.

Therefore, Trump has 191 Romney votes, plus gains in Ohio (18) and Iowa (6), and I will throw in New Hampshire (4) for a total of 219 votes to Clinton’s 319.  My sense is that the FBI-induced fever that plagued Clinton over the past week broke over the weekend.  Her campaign’s inherent strengths and Trump’s weakness with non-white voters will be a deciding factor in close races.  It will take an uprising in states where there is a higher proportion of white voters to elect Trump, IMHO. I’m betting the surprise on election night will be the size of Hillary Clinton’s margin of electoral votes, not a Trump win.

On Election night, channel flip over to Global TV’s BC1 news channel.  I will be speaking to results with Global’s Keith Baldrey throughout the evening.

The Rosedeer Prediction Map:

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Yes, Trump can still win

One month ago, I put out the question in this blog: “Can Trump still win?”  My answer was ‘yes’, and after a post-RNC/DNC convention nadir for Trump where I questioned my hypothesis (and my sanity), Trump has clawed his way back to contention.  The race appears tighter than it ought to be, yet it is.

Here’s the Real Clear Politics tracking of polls (aggregated):

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You can see that Trump spiked up during the RNC convention then sank immediately after.  In the past few weeks, he has been climbing.

I’ve been watching the USC-LA Times poll, which tracks every night.  It’s been among the most generous of polls to Trump.  Even if there is a skew in the methodology, it shows the same picture – that the race has been volatile.

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The polling junkies can check into Nate Silver’s site and see that he has Trump at a 31% chance to win.  One out of three chance?  Yikes.

Simple Math to get to 270 electoral college votes:

  • Hold Romney states (206)
  • Win Florida (29) and Ohio (18), then Michigan (16) to tie, or Pennsylvania (20) to win
  • Presto! President Trump

Easier said than done, but with two months left in the campaign – a political lifetime – and the debates yet to unfold, one thing can be said for sure: Hillary Clinton has not been able to drive the final wooden stake through the heart of this political vampire.

Any polling can only be viewed as a glimpse in time, and not very trustworthy, but let’s continue to play along.  The latest Washington Post-Survey Monkey poll of over 74,000 Americans across 50 states shows Trump leading in Ohio, neck and neck in Florida and Michigan, and only four points back in Pennsylvania.  That’s the good news for Trump.  The bad news is that Clinton appears competitive in Texas – game over if that happens.  Also, Romney states such as North Carolina and Arizona look shaky for the Republicans.

2012 Electoral College:

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There are many other states that could go different ways than 2012.  Wisconsin and Iowa could go Republican this time.  Georgia could go Democrat.

But it could all go down to the Nebraska 2nd District.  Unlike every other state except Maine, Nebraska apportions its electoral college by congressional district.  The 2nd District in Omaha is the one area of Nebraska that could vote Democrat.  So, if Trump holds Romney states, and wins Ohio, Florida, and Michigan, it might just be a committed group of Cornhuskers that makes it a 270-268 win for Clinton. So, if Hillary can’t drive the wooden stake through the heart of the Donald herself, maybe Warren Buffet can do it for her.  Please.

 

Can Trump still win?

It’s hard to imagine a worse stretch for Donald Trump than what has transpired since the DNC Convention.  In my most recent blog post, I raised the spectre of a Trump presidency based on a 7-point lead in the USC-LA Times rolling-track poll.  I went on CKNW 98 with Michael Smyth and talked about the importance of not underestimating Trump’s chances.  The threat might almost seem to many like a moot point now.  That’s a dangerous assumption.  I still believe that Trump can win – it’s not likely that he will win, but he could win.  Despite his egregious campaigning, his poll numbers could be a lot worse.

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The USC-LA Times poll has a big sample (over 2000) and runs on a rolling track so that there’s fresh interviews every night, with the most recent night replacing the results from 7 days previous.  Compared to other polls, this polls has been among the most friendly to Trump (other polls have Clinton up, on average, 7 points).  Right now, USC-LA Times has the race tied whereas Trump had opened a seven point lead following the RNC Convention.

Perhaps the USC-LA Times has a built -in skew, which can happen in online panels, but what it does tell us is the trend and who has moved the hardest toward Clinton.  In that respect, the answer is resoundingly women.

Chart 1: Female voters

Since July 26, Clinton has broadened her lead among women from one point to thirteen (50-37).

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Chart 2: Male voters

Despite Trump’s self-inflicted bad press, his support is remarkably resilient among men.  In fact, he hasn’t lost any support since July 26, holding at 52%.  Clinton has moved up from 37% to 39%.

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Trump’s support among white voters is also largely unchanged.  He’s down about one point since July 26 while Clinton is up 2.  Trump couldn’t do any worse with African-Americans so he’s constant there, getting absolutely blown out.  Hispanics and “Other ethnicity” (not White, African-American, or Hispanic) have shown movement away from him.

Chart 3:  Hispanic voters

Clinton has broadened her lead from 52%-36% to 59%-31%.  That’s a twelve point gain.

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Chart 4: Other Ethnicity

Trump had a sizeable lead on July 26 among this group but Clinton has now closed the gap, moving the numbers from 59% – 33% to a dead heat at 46% each.  One can easily speculate that the controversy with the family of the Muslim-American war hero precipitated this change.

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So how could Trump still win?

Narrow geographic pathway.  Trump must hold all of Romney’s states (a tall order) and win Florida, Ohio, and either Pennsylvania or Michigan.  He has been neck and neck in Florida and Ohio, and further behind in the latter two.  He’s banking on his message of economic alienation working among traditional Democratic voters.  It was going to be a narrow pathway for any Republican – Rubio, Cruz, Bush, Kasich or anyone else.

Clinton’s unpopularity.  As poorly as Trump has seemed to perform in the past ten days, Americans are not crazy about Hillary Clinton either.  Certainly, she has had an upswing, particularly with women, but she remains a juicy target for the Republicans.

Time.  Trump has lots of it.  Three months is a political eternity.  If he continues to death spiral, some speculate he might not even make it to November.  I wouldn’t rule it out, but the more likely scenario is that he regroups.

Stabilize.  Just a little less craziness would be a big momentum builder for the campaign.  Expectations are now so low for the Trump campaign that a solid week of on-message performance may completely change the narrative.  There are so many media cycles between now and November, and so much thirst by the cable news networks for content, that you could get the media to run with almost anything.

Clinton is in a much stronger position in terms of discipline, money, infrastructure, and the breadth of her coalition.  Yet Trump remains in striking distance.

So can Trump still win?  Yes.  We can look to countless examples of conventional wisdom being upended whether it was Justin Trudeau’s shocking majority government win only 60 days after he was in third place, the Brexit results, or the rise of Trump himself. He still has strong support among white voters and men.  The Democrats cannot afford to take their foot off the Trump campaign’s throat until it’s over.  Polls schmolls – you never know until the votes are cast.

 

 

 

Trumping Clinton: 7 days of momentum

USC is running a rolling track poll where they interview 300-400 people a day (online) right through to Election Day.  This is a serious poll with serious methodology.  The numbers shown daily represent seven days of tracking. Each day, the daily results from 7 days ago drop off and the current day is added, making it a rolling track.  This smooths results and shows more of a trendline rather than sudden shifts.  So, if there is a big move, it might not become fully apparent for several days.

For the past 7 days, Donald Trump’s support has increased to, now, a 7 point lead.  This includes several days now of the Democratic National Convention.  Trump certainly had an RNC  Convention bounce but yet to see a Dem bounce.

Chart 1: Election forecast (n=2150)

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Some Democratic pundits have cautioned against “bedwetting”.  Yes, it’s July.  There’s a long way to go.

The issue the Democrats have to confront, however, is that Trump can win.  There has been a lot of commentary about how it’s impossible for Trump to win because of lack of support among Hispanics, Blacks, women, etc.  However, he is crushing it with whites and males.

 

Here is a breakdown of the numbers to show how Trump is rising:

Chart 2: Predicted Winner

While Hillary Clinton is still seen as the likely winner by 49% to 45%, that gap has narrowed from 13 points to 4 points in the past 17 days.  More Americans are believing in the possibility of a Trump presidency – will that help or hurt Trump?

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Chart 3: Intention to Vote

Trump and Clinton supporters are virtually tied when it comes to whether they intend to vote.  They have leapfrogged on this.  Trump’s turnout numbers are likely helped because he has strong support among older voters; Clinton’s turnout numbers are likely helped because Trump is highly polarizing and antagonizing.

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Chart 4: Seniors 

Trump has a big lead (55% to 38%), and seniors typically vote at a higher rate.  Trump leads 18-34s too, right now.

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Chart 5: Whites

Trump leads white Americans 57% to 31%.  African-American voters are 81% to 4% for Clinton.  Hispanics, though, are reported at 50% to 37% for Clinton.  This is where one might wonder if the poll has a large enough, or representative, sample of Hispanic voters.  Or maybe that’s reality – are gender and age are ‘trumping’ race among Hispanics?

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Chart 6: Men

Trump leads Clinton by 17 points among men (53% – 36%) while Clinton has a two-point lead among women.

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What does it all mean?

Trump can win.  If you can rack up a 7 point lead, you can obviously win.  Even if this poll is inaccurate, other polls are showing Trump is leading.  Even though Hillary has a small lead in Ohio, Trump has a small lead in Florida.

The challenge for Democrats is to approach the race for what it is – a very unconventional campaign.  Trump is attracting voters who are very anti-establishment including alienated Democrats.  How many more examples do we need to see – Rob Ford, Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, and Trump himself – to understand that there is a very large constituency for those who tap into the vein of frustration, resentment, and anxiety?

This rise in Trump support may be short-term.  It may be illusory.  It may be overstated.  But it proves that Clinton is no shoo-in.   The presidential campaign has been very unkind to her personal popularity and favourables.  Bernie Sanders did a lot to soften her support and drive votes away.  She has gone from a plus 10% to minus 17% in two years.  At her peak back in 2008, she had 69% favourable rating.

Chart 7: Hillary Clinton’s favourables over past two years.

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So, the first thing Democrats have to face is that they have a problem.  Now, deal with it.  If the DNC Convention does not move the dial, then it’s time for Plan B, whatever that is.

 

Five BC ridings where strategic voting organizations got it wrong… and other monkey business

One reason why political party organizers don’t like strategic voting organizations is that they are likely to get it wrong when it comes to polling.

In five BC ridings, they did just that.  In two of those ridings, a Conservative was elected.  In three other ridings, they picked the NDP and the riding went Liberal in close three-way battles.  They could have screwed those up too, if their aim was really to “STOP HARPER”.

Cariboo-Prince George

Leadnow recommended NDP Trent Derrick based on Environics polling.  He finished third.  Final result: CPC 36.5%; Liberal 31.6%; NDP 25.9%.  Oops!  As of October 9-11, they had the Conservatives at 30% – they finished with 36.5%.  I guess it was that late Blue surge?

North Okanagan – Shuswap

Leadnow recommended NDP candidate Jacqui Gingras.  Again, it was the Liberal who had the best chance to win.  CPC candidate Mel Arnold won with 39%, with the Liberals second at 30% and NDP at 26%.  Yet the Environics polling had it at 37% NDP and 33% CPC, while Leadnow also published poll results from a firm called Oracle that had the Liberals at 12%!  They messed up and got it wrong.

Here’s three seats that the Liberals won despite inaccurate and confusing poll data indicating otherwise:

Burnaby North – Seymour

Liberal Terry Beech won the seat with 36.2% of the vote, winning by about 7 points.  Leadnow reported that the Liberal had the best chance, but on October 15th, Dogwood released a stale poll from Insights West (Oct 5-10) that had the Liberals third at 17%.  Wrong call, bad polling, and, frankly, reckless.

Coquitlam – Port Coquitlam

Leadnow recommended NDP candidate Sara Norman and released poll results (Environics, Oct 9-11)  claiming she led the race with 38%.  Well… turns out the Liberals won the dang seat and the NDP were third.  Libs 35%; CPC 32%; NDP 27%.

Pitt Meadows – Maple Ridge

The riding I grew up in – it hadn’t elected a Liberal since they lost to the federal Socreds in the 1950’s!  Until yesterday.  Leadnow promoted a September poll that had the NDP at 41% compared to the Liberal at 19%.  Might have been true… then.  Election night?  Liberals 33.8%, barely edging the CPC at 31.4%, with the NDP pulling up third at 29.6%.  Close shave.

Other controversy…

The Vancouver-Granville brouhaha has been well documented.  Leadnow endorsed NDP Mira Oreck.  From the standpoint that they had written off the Conservatives, they were correct.  Liberal Jody Wilson-Raybould won the race handily, as predicted, but Leadnow left a lot of people confused as to their definition of strategic voting.

The Leadnow website simply listed the NDP MP in Surrey-Centre as the choice.  From the standpoint that the CPC were out of the running, they were correct, but it was the Liberal Randeep Sarai who won.  The same almost happened in Burnaby South where up-and-comer Liberal Adam Pankratz almost nipped off NDP MP Kennedy Stewart, who was promoted on the Leadnow website. These examples are not such a big deal but Liberals might feel a little peeved.

What’s the point?

Five ridings is a lot of ridings to get wrong.  They basically played into the hands of the Conservatives, and helped elect two of them by sending mixed signals.

I’m sure there are some chagrined Liberals who saw the endorsements or promotion of the NDP undermine their more legitimate chances of winning.

As well, the polling that was done by Dogwood lacked transparency.  They did not release cross-tabs to the public, which should be common practice for all publicly released polls.  I will credit Kai Nagata of Dogwood for opening a dialogue on polling issues and stating that they are going to learn from the experience.  We’ll see.

My advice:

Releasing polling data is very risky unless you are committed to doing it right.  Doing it right is NOT doing it on the cheap nor is it doing it well before voters have made up their minds.  Of course they were wrong!  The Liberals surged and rendered their polling info useless except for the fact it served to mislead voters as to who had the best chance.  Why they were polling in May and over the summer, I will never know.  They simply wasted their donors’ money and misguided their own strategy.

The Chinese community and the federal election: did anyone ask what they think?

Co-authored by Tung Chan 陳志動, former CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S. 

It would be nice to know what Chinese-Canadians are thinking about the federal election.  It would also be nice if they had been being asked… properly.

In Metro Vancouver, over 430,000 Chinese-Canadians make up 19% of the region’s population, which is a conservative estimate since this is based on the 2011 census.  Across BC, over 1 in 9 are Chinese.

The concentration is higher in areas like Richmond, Vancouver, and Burnaby.

The impact of the Chinese-Canadian vote on a significant number of federal ridings is undeniable.

Riding Cantonese Mandarin Chinese NOS* Taiwanese Total
Richmond Centre 16.77% 12.22% 14.61% 0.71% 44.31%
Vancouver Kingsway 18.32% 3.22% 10.89% 0.07% 32.50%
Vancouver South 17.50% 3.63% 10.82% 0.28% 32.23%
Steveston-Richmond East 13.10% 8.22% 8.14% 0.21% 29.67%
Burnaby South 7.49% 10.84% 9.28% 0.68% 28.29%
Vancouver Granville 8.07% 7.60% 8.32% 0.67% 24.66%
Vancouver East 11.65% 1.65% 6.56% 0.05% 19.91%
Burnaby-North Van Seymour 7.62% 4.65% 5.83% 0.26% 18.36%
Vancouver Quadra 4.29% 6.89% 6.43% 0.42% 18.03%
Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam 4.70% 3.86% 4.04% 0.13% 12.73%
New West – Burnaby 3.29% 4.37% 3.80% 0.23% 11.69%

*Not otherwise specified (NOS)

Every day, new opinion polls are being reported by the media.  These polls only tell part of the story, because we have no way of knowing if they are talking to a proportionate share of Chinese-Canadians.

Why?

  • Telephone surveys – there is no indication that media polls are being conducted in-language for those that speak comfortably in Cantonese and Mandarin, but not English.
  • Online surveys – those that are not confident in English are not likely to participate in an online panel.
  • IVR surveys – automated messages for media polls are almost always in English.

A tell-tale that multicultural communities, such as Chinese-Canadians, are not being properly represented is that polls are not weighted to reflect these communities.  In other words, if 25% of a riding has a Chinese language as their mother tongue, the poll should have a sample of 25% Chinese.  This isn’t happening.

Yes, some Chinese Canadians will be participating in these surveys but, it is likely below their share of the electorate, for the reasons listed above.

A recent example are riding polls released by organizations like Lead Now and the Dogwood Initiative.  They did not release a breakdown of ethnicities in riding surveys conducted in Burnaby-North Vancouver Seymour (18% Chinese) or Vancouver South (32% Chinese).  If they have under-reported the Chinese Canadian voters in those ridings, they may well be providing voters with a misleading portrait.

We would love to be proven wrong, but it is clear to us that media polls (usually polling that is provided free of charge to news outlets or released into social media) has a cultural bias.  It simply costs more to do it right.

It is true that the voter turnout rate for Chinese-Canadian voters can be lower than BC average.  The provincial riding with the highest population of Chinese Canadians, Richmond Centre (49.88% of population), also had the lowest turnout rate (43.65%) suggesting a lower turnout rate from that community.

Voter participation increases as proficiency in English increases and as length of residency in Canada increases.  This is intuitive – as newcomers become more integrated into their community, they tend to participate more.  Even with lower voter turnout, the impact of Chinese Canadian voters cannot be ignored.

Though in the recent transit plebiscite, the voter turnout rate in Richmond was almost the same as the region-wide average.  Low turnout among Chinese voters may in fact be overstated.

So, does this even matter?

Chinese-Canadian voters, on the whole, tend to have different values than other groups.  The results of the 2010 HST referendum show this.  Only 25 of 85 provincial ridings supported the HST, with the strongest BC Liberal seats being among those that provided the most support.  Yet, BC Liberal strongholds in Richmond and South Vancouver voted overwhelmingly against the HST.  It was a major swing compared to other BC Liberal ridings with lower Chinese populations. Chinese Canadians surely made a critical difference; the HST had taken a beating in Chinese media and at the retail politics level.

The following table shows 7 BC Liberal ridings based on proportion of Chinese Canadian population (mother tongue).  While 24 of 49 BC Liberal constituencies voted in favour of the HST, only 1 in 7 of the ridings with the highest Chinese population supported the HST.  The exception being the seat of the Finance Minister.  The 2010 pro-HST vote and BC Liberal 2009 election vote were almost identical on a BC-wide basis.  But in these 7 ridings, all with a Chinese Canadian population of over 20%, the pro-HST vote runs behind the BCL vote significantly, with the highest Chinese ridings having the highest discrepancy.  Even Quilchena, which had a pro-HST vote of over 60%, ran behind its BC Liberal vote.

BC Liberal-held ridings Chinese % (mother tongue) Riding Pro-HST vote 2009 BCL vote Diff: HST-BCL
Richmond Centre 49.96% 36.23% 61.51% -25.28%
Richmond East 37.88% 34.42% 58.73% -24.31%
Vancouver Langara 35.41% 38.35% 58.87% -20.52%
Vancouver Fraserview 32.15% 33.99% 49.29% -15.30%
Richmond Steveston 31.88% 44.81% 60.78% -15.97%
Vancouver-Quilchena 26.98% 62.40% 70.22% -7.82%
Burnaby North 22.68% 39.66% 48.19% -8.53%
British Columbia 8.20% 45.27% 45.82% -0.0055

We want to make it clear that the issue we are raising is not solely a Chinese Canadian issue.  This is a South Asian issue, a Filipino issue, a Korean issue, a Persian issue.  For example, the 45 % of residents in the riding of Surrey-Newton say that their language at home is not one of Canada’s official languages, with the largest group speaking Punjabi.  Metro Vancouver has changed and will continue to do so.

In this election, the smart political parties are tracking opinion carefully so that they know what is actually going on.

Media outlets and any organization conducting research should be no different as when they fail to account for large segments of the population, they are ignoring them at their own peril.

Postscript:

A 2009 survey of Cantonese and Mandarin speakers for S.U.C.C.E.S.S. by Innovative Research Group  provided interesting insights into newspaper reading habits.  Even among those Chinese-Canadians fluent in English, Chinese media sources were preferred.