After the B.C. fiasco, Canada’s polling industry is — once again — engaged in a painful existential debate about what they do and how they do it.
Because, make no mistake, they were dramatically mistaken about last Tuesday’s British Columbia election result.
Going into the month-long race, every single pollster declared the NDP was far ahead of the governing B.C. Liberals — in some cases by as many as 20 percentage points.
While the gap narrowed during the campaign, not one pollster foresaw a majority Liberal government. Not one.
Gullible pundits (like me) uncritically quoted the pollsters ad nauseum and, accordingly, let our readers down.
For that, we owe you — the reader — a full and sincere apology.
We, and the pollsters, owe you an explanation, too. In the past week, countless column inches have been published about what the reasons might be: Poor methodology, low voter turnout, new polling technology, respondents lying to pollsters about their voting intentions, and so on.
All of those explanations have some merit, but I don’t think they begin to capture the full extent of the problem.
The problem, you see, is the chattering classes have been missing out on a conversation between citizens.