Friday, April 27, 2012

Who saw it coming?

The answer to that question is "not very many of us".

More than 190 people entered the joint and CalgaryGrit Great Alberta Election Pool, but like nearly all the pollsters and pundits, most entries were far away from the actual results on election night. Just 15% predicted a PC majority, and only 2 people had them winning at least 60 seats. The wisdom of the masses proved more accurate when it came to the bonus questions, successfully calling the defeat of Ted Morton and the controversial Wildrose candidates, while predicting Heather Klimchuk's victory in the hotly contested Edmonton Glenora riding. The median prediction of the Alberta Party's best riding showing was spot on the mark at 17%.

Each entry received 87 points minus one point for each seat you are off per party, plus two points per correct bonus question (see the questions here).

The two overall winners Marie and Tom earned 87 points each and will be contacted via email (if we're unable to contact them, the next placing entrant will be contacted and offered the prize). Prussian Prince, who answered 9 of the 10 bonus questions correct, will also receive one of the prize packs generously donated by Robert Vollman (who himself placed a very respectable 14th).

Your top 10 are:

T1. Marie (87 points)
T1. Tom (87 points)
3. Alexis MacMillian (83 points)
T4. Blake Robert (81 points)
T4. Kyle Olsen (81 points)
6. Andrew F (75 points)
T7. Ryan (73 points)
T7. SaraEdmonton (73 points)
T9. Gwen May (71 points)
T9. Kristin Stolarz (71 points)

Thank you to everyone who entered the pool. Any entrant who is curious how they placed can ask in the comments section or send an e-mail to Rest assured, you likely did better than the contest organizers - I placed 114th, while Dave was 177th.

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  • Would love to hear about the methodology/expertise of those who placed in the top 10. Were they just lucky guesses, or did they have some reason to believe that things would turn out the way they did? (Its not cheating to have seen internal party polling, right?)

    By Blogger Dan F, at 10:28 a.m.  

  • I would love to see your and Dave's predictions.

    By Blogger Corey Hogan, at 10:51 a.m.  

  • CG,
    I still read you when I can; little time to comment.

    Over the past months, the biggest thing I've wanted to jump in and agree with is your criticism of AB PC's not investing more resource-based revenue into innovation and people and the future. (Actually this feels, generally speaking, like my impression of most resource-based economies around the world -- perhaps I should research more before speaking that opinion)

    Why do we even have pollsters??? I know (and appreciate) that it's a passion of yours, but really, it's all just hoopla and energy and money and time spent for the benefit of the parties -- not you and me and everyone we know. It's just to let the parties and their acolytes know how aggressive to be, regarding which issues, in what areas, targeted at whom. When they should panic, when they should relax and gloat. I don't see what useful purpose they serve to the electorate/population, and I think they're a distraction from what really matters.

    I have no set intentions to vote for any specific leader yet (no clue who LPC leader will be, and slim chance Greens will opt for a new leader -- heck, Harper could take a walk in the snow and retire), but I agree that Mulcair is the "most dangerous" candidate. A Brian Topp win would have been a death knell for the NDP. "Getting results for pampered actors" is not PM-material.

    Robert Vollman, you're super cool to donate the prize book packages.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 10:53 a.m.  

  • Dan F - I'll leave it to our winners to explain their rationale, though I happen to know that at least one or two in the top 10 did have access to internal PC polling...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:04 a.m.  

  • Corey,

    I posted my picks here:

    Here's what I said - feel free to ridicule. I'll leave it to Dave share his own, though I will say he also had a Wildrose majority predicted.


    WR 44
    PC 35
    Lib 4
    NDP 4
    AP 0

    1. Best Riding: Spruce Grove - St. Albert (Horner likely next PC leader too)

    2. No. Morton will lose

    3. Yes. Redford will win

    4. No. Sherman will lose

    5. 17% is the best the Alberta Party will guess it will be Glenn Taylor too, not the Edmonton seats they're targeting

    6. Yes. Leech will win, Hunsperger will lose

    7. NDP takes Glenora. Martin's due

    8. None resign within 48 hours, but all except Smith are gone by the next election

    9. 3 - Wildrose gets a clean sweep, since voters will just vote party lines

    10. NDP with slightly more votes, due to "strategic" vote among Liberals that ironically will lead to a few surprise Wildrose wins.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:12 a.m.  

  • Jacques - We've missed you in the comments section!

    I've made my critique of the media polls known, but to defend my industry at a larger level, I will say that polling does help political parties respond to the desires of the public.

    For example, on virtually any NIMBY issue, politicians will get more calls against it than for it, even if 90% of the public agrees with the position. It's important for them to know what their constituents actually think.

    Even when it comes to messaging, there's a case to be made. If the government needs to make an unpopular decision (like, say, the Liberal budget cuts of the 90s), they need to be able to "sell" it to the public. A carbon tax might make for good policy, but if you can't sell it to the public (which Dion couldn't), there's not a lot of point in it.

    I guess the short of it is, if you buy that politicians should respect the will of the people, polls give them a good way to gauge the will of the people.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:19 a.m.  

  • It's important for them to know what their constituents actually think.

    Actually, regarding specific issues (should we have abortion, wind turbines, war, whatever) I agree with you totally: polling (done right) can be an excellent tool for governing society.

    Regarding elections however, polling's become a meaningless sport that distracts unhelpfully rather than benefiting the public.

    Your point about making unpopular decisions is also worthy and I don't want to seem like I oppose "all polls". Media-hyping polls could be banned without anyone except paid partisan sluggers even noticing, imo.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 3:11 p.m.  

  • Agreed. I think the horse race polls do as much harm as good.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:30 p.m.  

  • Answer to Dan F:

    Even though I finished outside the top ten (14th). :)

    I don't know politics as well as some of the others, but I know stats.

    In fact, I'm a sportswriter for ESPN, working on my third book right now ( for more).

    The polling data was correct. The interpretation was wrong.

    The Tories did even better than I thought, but my picks were a purely statistical exercise, and they called for a Tory majority, and a strong finish for NDP/Liberal (I expected 11, they got 9).

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 9:24 p.m.  

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