Sunday, September 10, 2006

An Anonymous Response to a Lobster's Thoughts on the Decima Poll

In a well reasoned post, Lobster Thermidor critiqued my analysis of the the results of the Decima poll.

In certain aspects, I must admit that I was incorrect. For example, having gone back and crunched the numbers, it is clear that, from a statistical perspective, Rae does have a lead over Ignatieff in Ontario. The exact size of that lead could vary significantly, but, from a strictly mathematical perspective, I was incorrect. This is not the case, as both of us have noted, nationally, but in Ontario, there is a statistically significant difference. Thanks to him for noting this.

I also agree that Rae is somewhat higher than the 26% I originally noted. Fine. From that points onwards, however, we diverge. I still maintain that Rae is entirely unelectable in Ontario.

Why? It's informative now to note what the original article said.

Nationally, the potential voter pool sits at between 56% and 53% for all candidates. This potential voter pool includes three classes of people:
-people who will definitely vote Liberal
-people who will consider voting Liberal
-people who aren't sure

These numbers drop into the the 21-26% range that we're all quoting because the last category is dropped, i.e. the people who aren't sure. It's these people, the unsures, that the Liberal Party must be actively seeking. It is significantly larger than the other two categories combined, and it will necessary to win a large portion of these unsures in order to win the next election. It is these unsures in Ontario that I think Bob Rae would scare away. I grant that Rae has a stronger core lead in Ontario, but you can't win with just that core.

Moreover, I think that insofar as that lead does exist, it still exists because of, as I put in my last post, the name recognition that Mr. Rae enjoys compared to all the other candidates because of his stint as premier of Ontario. That is a huge advantage in this race, as there exists a massively crowded playing field, where few of the candidates had a massive profile among the Canadian population as a whole.

It speaks precisely to this phenomenon that the place where Rae seemingly enjoys the most support is Ontario! Ontario is where he was premier, and he has the highest polling in Ontario. Shocking? No. It's entirely name recognition. People are much more comfortable voting for a party run by somewhere they've heard of compared to someone they haven't heard of.

But here's the thing. Once we have a leader, that leader will begin to enjoy more name recognition across the board. Rae has more name recognition among ordinary Ontarians right now, but that difference would be minimized after the leadership race. Rae would gain more name recognition, but Ignatieff would gain even more than that. He would become much more of a household name then, because he would be THE leader, not one candidate out of ten.

In any event, that's the second half of my analysis. LT has successfully poked holes in bits of the first, for which I commend him. Unfortunately, he did not address the second, and more substantive, portion of the argumention.


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