That’s what media political polls have become in this country. And, if the news media continue to trumpet the results of polls, they risk becoming a joke, too.
By the time you read this, the pollsters will have hit the TV panels, trying to fool everyone into thinking that they didn’t really get the stunning Quebec election results wrong. But they did, and dramatically so. And they’re doing it all the time now.
“PQ headed to comfortable majority: Final poll before Quebec election.” That was the actual headline on a National Post story, published one day before Quebec trooped to the polls. The PQ had “a large lead over the Liberals,” the Post declared, relying on a poll by an outfit called Forum Research. Forum claimed to have polled nearly 3,000 adult Quebecers, and that the PQ would win 36% of the vote, with the Liberals eking out only 29%. Forum also claimed their poll had a margin of error of less than 2%. Well, they — and the Post — were off by a hell of a lot more than that. In the end, the Quebec Liberals and the separatist Parti Quebecois both received 31% of the vote, with the PQ a paltry .7% ahead. The Post wasn’t alone in getting it wrong, however. A political website called ThreeHundredEight.com, one that is relied upon by many reporters, analyzed a number of polls, and stated that the Parti Quebecois could win as many 75 of the National Assembly’s 125 seats on Tuesday night, with the Liberals winning as few as 25. When all the votes were counted on election night, however, the PQ had won only 54 seats, and the Liberals — who too many had suggested were as good as dead — captured 50 seats.