Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Gregg Poll

Letter to the Editor in response to this article in the Globe and Mail (no comment area was available).

It is irresponsible journalism to merely repeat poll results with no analysis or criticism.

This is especially the case when the response to the question "How would Canadians vote if an election were held today?" is misinterpreted to read "How would _you_ vote if an election were held today?"

The posing of such a question in such a misleading manner casts the reliability of the survey into question.

Additionally, the article depends for most of its rhetorical force on an uncriticized interpretation of the polling questions.

Why should we believe Allan Gregg that these numbers create "winning conditions" for the Tories?

Why, for example, should we believe that Harper's "best leader" numbers are more important that the number stating that more Canadians identify with the Liberals than the Conservatives?

For that matter, the use of such vague phrases as "identify with" and "best able to manage" is sloppy polling. Polls should ask precise questions, such as "Who will you vote for." The use of vague questions suggests that the wordings are being used to manipulate the poll results.

One wonders whether other polls were taken for the same client and rejected because the numbers didn't look right.

No matter how you feel about these questions, merely reporting the poll results along with Gregg's opinions is irresponsible journalism.

Journalists have an obligation not merely to present matters of opinion, such as polls, to their readers, but to provide others with the opportunity to assess their reliability.

To simply present poll results as fact is nothing short of propaganda.