Friday, October 26, 2012

Here a Poll, There a Poll

A recent, non-scientific poll came out today via the Erin Weir campaign. The telephone poll was conducted in the middle of October (and I'm pretty sure I actually got one of the calls, so full-disclosure on that one), and has some pretty interesting results.

So, let's take a look at those results...and then I'll engage in some light editorializing. Also, since I'm not a fan of mucking-a-bout with the HTML code on the page, there won't be a table to accompany this post. Rather, I'll break it down into simply reporting the regions and numbers in different block text areas.

Province-Wide Result

Cam Broten:            219 = 10.0%
Ryan Meili:              177 = 8.1%
Erin Weir:                214 = 9.8%
Trent Wotherspoon: 248 = 11.4%
Undecided:             1324 = 60.7%

Regina Result

Cam Broten:             14 = 2.4%
Ryan Meili:                22 = 3.7%
Erin Weir:                 74 = 12.5%
Trent Wotherspoon: 185 = 31.4%
Undecided:              295 = 50.0%

Saskatoon Result

Cam Broten:            170 = 25.5%
Ryan Meili:              76 = 11.4%
Erin Weir:                57 = 8.5%
Trent Wotherspoon: 18 = 2.7%
Undecided:              346 = 51.9%

Other Areas Result

Cam Broten:            35 = 3.8%
Ryan Meili:              79 = 8.5%
Erin Weir:                83 = 9.0%
Trent Wotherspoon: 45 = 4.9%
Undecided:              683 = 73.8%

So, what does this all mean?

Well, let's look at the province wide poll first. If the race is looking for a frontrunner, then it would seem that the undecided clearly have it. But, since there's no fun in putting the undecideds in the front of the pack, that role would fall to Trent Wotherspoon; though there's caution to be had there at all. I say so, because since the biggest separation from the candidates is about 3%, it is possible to say that there isn't actually a frontrunner at all.

In my mind, a frontrunner generally holds at least a bit of a substantial lead over the next nearest candidate. And I think no one would argue that a 1.4% lead over the next candidate could be called a substantial lead. So, if anything, this poll at the very least shows that none of the candidates have a distinct advantage overall at the moment.

Now, let's look at Regina and Saskatoon.

Unsurprisingly, the two sitting MLAs from these cities (Trent and Cam, respectively) hold strong leads over the non-MLA candidates. Now, some might extrapolate that since Trent has a strong lead in his city than Cam has in his, that this might be a good first signal for overall support. However, I would advise caution to do so, given that Regina had 77 less respondents than Saskatoon, which would skew the numbers a little.

Also, I think the biggest concern here will be time spent in the legislature. I've mentioned before that Cam and Trent have a bit of an advantage as sitting MLAs since they will be able to raise their profiles through their roles in the legislature. As such, this could enhance their abilities to woo further popularity from people within their own cities and province-wide as well.

After all, it will essentially be free publicity for the campaigns to simply do their day to day duties as members of the opposition.I think that's one reason why we've seen so many media releases from Erin Weir's campaign, as it's an effort to keep just as much print about Erin as possible and serve as a counter to the press the two MLAs will get.

Of course, there is the argument that regular forms of media are no longer where the bulk of people will form decisions about the candidates; (after all, you are reading a blog by a non-journalist...), but there is a case to be made for traditional media sources for those who don't follow social media or aren't tech-savvy when it comes to things like Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Now, let's focus on the "other areas" section of the poll. I imagine this contains your other major centres, like Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, etc, etc, etc.

The interesting thing to come from this section is the fact that Erin Weir and Ryan Meili are leading the pack in this area, once you overlook the large amount of undecideds. But again, the leads aren't such that they suggest an impending surge for any candidate. Effectively, this poll shows that all the candidates have a good base in certain regions, and all of them have room to grow as the campaign goes on.

So, let's talk a bit about the results as a whole. Essentially, the main take away is that this is a wide-open race. Whichever candidate does the work and successfully builds their profile with the members is going to be the one who ends up leading the party. I think there was some thought that name-recognition and 'star quality' (ala Justin Trudeau) might propel a candidacy early on in the race, but this poll suggests that that did not happen.

As such, it will be all about personality and policy from here on out. Whoever meets that magic combination of the two will likely be the man to face Brad Wall in the next election. And make no mistake, personality will play a key role in this decision. I say that because in the last leadership contest, the bulk of members seemed to go with experience and 'policy' over personality, and I'd say the result was less than what we were hoping for.

While we can fight the Sask. Party on policy quite well, there's no denying the 'Wall Factor' of personality and likeability. I think we're going to see some members gravitate towards picking a leader who offers up that certain "je nes sais quoi" of personality that can stand to counter Wall's. While I'm not trying to downplay policy, which is also important, I just want to be clear that this is a multifaceted race (as most political things are) and it won't be just one excelling area that turns one of the contenders from candidate to leader.

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