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Conference Theme: Public Opinion and Democracy

It has been over 800 years since the Magna Carta, and international survey research shows that liberal democratic values of respect for the will of the people, human rights, impartial justice and the rule of law have become widely adopted by citizens across the world. Given how central democratic principles are to the field of survey research, and how central a role public opinion polling plays in the practice of democracy, it is clearly time for social researchers to examine the relationship between public opinion and democracy in some detail.

Do we witness a decline in political and institutional trust and in the perceived legitimacy of democracy? Does the polling profession need to renew its own levels of trust and legitimacy with the public? How should public opinion research operate in order to better serve society and democracy? What is the role of stakeholder/expert research? How do the answers to these questions vary between established and emerging democracies?

Topics include:

  • Public opinion and democracy
  • News, media, journalism and public opinion
  • Political behavior, participation and culture
  • Electoral polls in emerging/incomplete democracies
  • Methodological challenges and improvements, including in the areas of sampling, measurement, survey design and survey response or non-response

 WAPOR-ESOMAR-CRIC Session: Accuracy of Polls in Canada

Room: WAPOR – Gerrard – Session J
Time: Tuesday, 5/21/2019 10:30 AM
Session Chair: Marita Carballo

Canada Polling in a Global Context
Primary Presenter: Jon Puleston
This paper will look at election polling on an international scale and compare the historical performance of election opinion polling in Canada to average performance of polls around the world. It will examine why the accuracy of polling varies from country to country and in different types of elections and outline the common causes of differences between polling results and election results. It is based on the analysis of over 30,000 polls from over 480 elections across 40 countries compiled by Kantar.

Problematic Polling Conducted During the 2017 Calgary Election
Primary Presenter: Christopher Adams
During the 2017 Calgary election campaign, numerous polls were publicly released which inaccurately revealed the levels of voter support for each candidate.  It was widely believed that these polls had a negative effect on the electoral process, the public discourse, and the reputation of the polling industry itself.  Subsequent to this election, the Marketing Research and intelligence Association commissioned an independent panel to review what happened during the 2017 campaign.  Three independent academics with a background knowledge of the research industry led this panel: Christopher Adams, Paul Adams, and Davdi Zussman. For this WAPOR/ESOMAR/AAPOR session, one of these panelists, Christopher Adams, will provide an overview of their report’s findings and the key recommendations relating to both media and the polling industry.

A failure of the polls, a late campaign swing, or else? The Quebec 2018 election
Primary Presenter: Claire Durand
André Blais, Université de Montréal
On October 1st 2018, the Quebec electoral campaign concluded with a majority government of a “new party” that had never been elected before, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), a right-wing party. The CAQ obtained 37% of the vote, 12 points above the Quebec Liberal Party (QLP) at 25%. The two other parties – Parti Québécois (PQ) and Québec Solidaire (QS) – received respectively 17% and 16% of the vote. In the days preceding the vote, the polls generally showed a close race between the two major parties. Therefore, the results came as a major surprise to pollsters and to the public. The M5 absolute error for the two major parties reached an average of 10 for the 5 last polls, which is way higher than the preceding polling miss in Quebec in 1998 ((7.4), in the UK in 2015 (6.6) and in the Chili 2017 presidential election (7.2). How can we explain this large discrepancy between the polls and the vote? The literature shows that the possible reasons for polling misses are either a late campaign swing, differential participation, a “shy conservative” phenomena, and/or a biased sampling frame. We have examined these possible explanations using a recontact survey conducted by Ipsos among the respondents of its last pre-electoral survey. The data show that three phenomena combined to explain the polling miss: a late campaign swing towards CAQ, a tendency of “discrete” respondents to finally vote in greater proportion for CAQ and a small differential participation. The presentation concludes on the necessity to find ways to anticipate that such phenomena are likely to occur and to correct the estimates accordingly. It also raises the question of whether we can conclude to a polling miss without the necessary validation coming from a recontact survey.

WAPOR-ESOMAR-CRIC Session: Challenges of public opinion research in Canada

Room: WAPOR – Mountbatten Salon – Session K
Time: Tuesday, 5/21/2019 11:45 AM
Moderator: Claire Durand

Primary Presenter: Chris Adams, Rector [President] at St. Paul’s College, University of Manitoba
Darrel Bricker, Chief Executive Officer at Ipsos Public Affairs
Christian Bourque, Executive Vice-President and Senior Partner at Leger
Annie Pettit, Canadian Research Consultant, CEO of MOSRCanada
Adam Radwanski, Political feature writer, The Globe and Mail


WAPOR-ESOMAR-CRIC Session: Overcoming Challenges and Assuring the Future of Public Opinion Polls in Canada

Room: WAPOR – Gerrard WAPOR – Session L
Time: Tuesday, 5/21/2019 02:00 PM
Session Chair: Kathy Frankovic

Primary Presenter: Nik Nanos
Frank Graves, EKOS Research Associates
Christian Bourque, Léger360