ELECTION 2015: Poll shows tight race between NDP and Conservatives in North Okanagan-Shuswap

Questions arise over the process followed for the poll and those who commissioned the survey

A poll is showing a tight two-way race in North Okanagan-Shuswap but the survey has its critics.

When asked if a federal election were held today, which party and its candidate in the riding of North Okanagan-Shuswap would you most likely vote for or be learning towards at this time, an Oraclepoll Research survey commissioned by a group of local citizens shows 41 per cent support for the NDP, 38 per cent for the Conservatives, 12 per cent for the Liberals and nine per cent for the Greens.

“Based on the conversations at the doorstep and at forums, we’re hearing those results,” said Jacqui Gingras, with the NDP.

The results are based on 85 per cent of the sample of decided voters polled. Fifteen per cent stated they had not made up their mind about who they will support.

“We don’t put all of our emphasis on polls and we have to work hard. We have to reach as many people as possible,” said Gingras.

Conservative Mel Arnold says he’s focused on election day, Oct. 19.

“I’m hearing it’s a little tighter than usual but I’m hearing we have good support,” he said.

Arnold questions the poll’s sample size of 312 people.

“Polling in the last few years has been a real challenge and there’s no clear outcome until election day,” he said.

Liberal Cindy Derkaz dismisses the poll and believes the group of citizens is connected to Renewing Democracy Through Co-operation.

“The group was started by Jacqui Gingras and she has been very involved in it,” said Derkaz.

“The whole poll is rather dubious. The sample size is very small. Our results from 23,000 attempted contacts and door knockings show something different. We are very strong and ahead of the NDP.”

Warren Bell, spokesperson for the residents who commissioned the poll, says some are members of Renewing Democracy and some are not, and the poll was non-partisan.

“We chose deliberately to do it as a group of citizens. A poll is a little more objective than guess work,” he said.

“We wanted to be separate from anything (groups) that had a formal structure.”

Gingras confirms she was a member of Renewing Democracy but stepped away when the election campaign began.

“I haven’t contributed any money to the poll or participated in the poll,” she said.

Green Chris George is not surprised by the poll showing nine per cent support for his party.

“That’s pretty consistent with the results in 2011 and what we’ve been hearing,” he said.

“In 2011, we garnered 10.7 per cent of the vote and that was with a full campaign. We haven’t gone as flat out (in 2015) and to have similar results as 2011 is a good thing.”

Those conducting the poll selected phone numbers at random and that is important, says Ron McGivern, who teaches survey design at Thompson Rivers University.

“The absolute key to polling is to have random sampling. That allows you, for example, a small size. It allows you to generalize out to the larger population base, and I think the neat part is it allows you through rather efficient methods, with a concern to cost, to get the pulse on a particular issue of a population,” he said.

The citizens behind the poll describe themselves as not being affiliated with any party or special interest, and their goal is to assist voters in making a decision. However, a letter from the group states, “It is clear that if you are a voter who wants a regime change, then you should vote for the candidate, other than the Conservative Party candidate, who is highest in the standings. On the other hand, if you want to maintain the status quo as is, then you should vote for the Conservative Party candidate.”

Bell denies his group is anti-Conservative.

“We wanted to try as hard as we could to give everyone an option to do what they want to do.”

A series of questions were used during the poll.

Asked, “Is there a chance that you may switch your vote for this party and its candidate between now and election day,” 22.7 per cent (60 of 264) respondents said yes.

To the follow up question, “Is there a party or several parties you may be leaning towards,”  31.3 per cent of the respondents (15) said Liberal camp, 27.1 (13) the Conservatives, 20.8 per cent (10) the NDP, 8.3 per cent (4) Green, and 12.5 per cent (6) said they didn’t know.

The Oraclepoll Research poll was conducted Oct. 5 and 6 in the North Okanagan-Shuswap. A total of 312 people 18 years and over were interviewed and the margin of error is plus or minus 5.5 per cent, 19 out of 20 times. The survey was conducted using computer-assisted techniques of phone interviewing and random number selection.

Oraclepoll’s results can be found at http://pollokanaganshuswap.weebly.com.

— with files from Lachlan Labere, Black Press

 

 

 

Vernon Morning Star