Thursday, October 09, 2008

Talking Turkey

The 2006 election really turned over the Christmas holidays when families got together and chatted politics around the dinner table (or, for New Democrats, "around the kitchen table"). If we assume that the same thing will happen when Canadians watch football and talk turkey this weekend, that certainly ads an intriguing element of uncertainty to the election.

Now, it's debatable how many people will really change their mind on the final weekend - I suspect a Thanksgiving dinner the weekend right after the debates would have been more likely to move votes. But the topic is sure to come up and, if they're smart, the parties are going to be blanketing the CFL and HNIC weekend broadcasts with ads. Given that pollsters won't be able to catch any turkey-aided shifts, it certainly could lead to a surprise on Tuesday.


  • Polls don't really reflect it yet, but media coverage leaves me with the impression that the Liberals are rising and the Tory fortunes are falling. I think the effect could be multiplied if people who were thinking NDP because they thought the Liberals were too deeply in trouble change their mind. However, I have the opposite feeling about the Thanksgiving Effect - I think it gives the Tories three fewer days when anyone will be paying attention, and therefore three fewer days to slide. If your argument is correct and I'm wrong about freezing opinion in place, then I think you could shave twelve seats of the Tory total in the previous post.

    By Blogger Don, at 11:22 p.m.  

  • Interesting - and I do note that Harper's 2006 rise came right after the Christmas break, as families discuss politics.

    Here is my theory on how Thanksgiving effects elections...

    1. Gender
    Men are more likely to be watching CFL/HNIC collectively, and thus to be the target of ads. This works to Layton and Dion's advantage - it would be hard for Harper to gain more support among men, where his lead is very large.

    By contrast women are more likely to be spending thanksgiving preparing meals and chatting with other family members in the meantime. This also works to Dion's advantage. Only about 30% of women are Conservatives, and they are probably accustomed to being surrounded by a majority-Liberal/Green/NDP crowd among women. Most people in that situation keep quiet about their views.

    2. Education/high-info voters
    Family members differ in their possession of information about the election. When meeting other family members, I would imagine that high-info voters are more likely to be able to affect the opinions of others. So after Thanksgiving, their might be a move towards the opinions of high-info voters.

    Ekos has voters making >80,000/year (they don't have education) going 40-29 for the Tories. That is the same, roughly, as the national average, but the NDP does markedly worse.

    3. The families and immigrants

    However, Conservatives tend to have more babies, and are more likely to attend Thanksgiving in the first place. So if Thanksgiving shields people from ads, it doesn't do so for those that don't go.

    Secondly, many Canadians do not celebrate Thanksgiving, particularly immigrants (I mean they get a day off, but they don't necessarily eat turkey). That means they are still susceptible to ads - which helps the Conservatives, since they are a Dion-leaning group in general.

    So in summary...
    -Dion gains because men watch tv
    -Dion gains because women talk
    -Harper gains because young, single urbanites will still be going about their normal day
    -Harper gains because immigrants will still be going about their normal day.
    -Layton loses because high-info (and rich) voters will dominate the conversation in thanksgiving.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 1:49 a.m.  

  • Thanks for this article, really useful piece of writing.

    By Anonymous, at 9:44 a.m.  

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