A new election poll of the riding of Kootenay–Columbia puts the riding at a dead heat between NDP candidate Wayne Stetski and Conservative candidate David Wilks at 37 per cent each — albeit on a limited sample size of 529 with an error margin of plus or minus 4.3 per cent.
The poll puts Liberal candidate Don Johnston at 15 per cent and Green candidate Bill Green in fourth at 11 per cent.
The poll was conducted by Environics and commissioned by LeadNow, a left-leaning national political advocacy organization that uses online tools to drive participation.
It is part of LeadNow’s ‘VoteTogether‘ polls of potential swing ridings across Canada. They are designed to push strategic voting in those ridings, suggesting Conservative opponents should unite behind the leading candidate to defeat the Conservatives.
The poll asked several questions. The first was, ‘If the federal election were held tomorrow, which one the following parties would you vote for here in the riding of Kootenay–Columbia?’ It also featured the follow-up question, ‘Even though your are undecided, is there a party’s candidate that you are leaning towards?’
The poll was conducted using an electronic system, and also featured questions about whether the respondents were voting to re-elect or defeat the Conservative government.
The poll was taken between Sept. 18—21.
What does it mean? In the 2011 election, David Wilks took the seat with almost 56 per cent of the vote, ahead of the NDP at about 33 per cent. The Greens earned 6 per cent and the Liberals finished third with 3.5 per cent. The riding has since been redistributed to include Nelson, Kaslo, Salmo and some rural areas.
It shows the race in a redistributed riding is now much closer, although the error of margin of the poll at 4.3 per cent is high. It appears the Liberals have made significant gains, possibly at Conservative expense.
Stunning failures in political polls, such as in the last B.C. provincial election, have reduced public confidence in them as effective tools, and in the end, they only provide a snapshot from a set period of time.
In addition, the newer trend of using polls as political weapons to wield has also eroded confidence in their results.
More traditionally, polls were taken by a independent organization, like a media outlet, and aimed to get an unbiased result. The LeadNow VoteTogether poll was relatively well publicized amongst political followers, as has the concept of strategic voting, and the leading questions about strategic voting will likely have an effect on the outcome of the poll.
Does the poll reflect the actual status quo of voters’ intentions in this riding? Certainly, the wide margin of error and activist bent means the results come with at least several asterisks.