If you are a devotee of polls and pollsters this has to be the best federal election ever. From the wide pre-campiagn margin Paul Martins Liberals enjoyed to the recent declaration by a national newspaper declaring the election already decided, it's been a roller coaster ride of measuring the will of the people.
The polling industry has certainly come a long way in the last few decades. No longer relegated to the back pages of newspapers, they are now front and centre – seemingly critical components of election coverage in all media.
Candidates too, like their media counterparts, have begun it seems to pander to the pollsters as much as the electorate. It's evolved into a scenario not unlike the Neilson television ratings system. Which is probably the future of big time polling. A monitoring box in every home would certainly be the best thermometer of public opinion, however invasive that would be.
In an effort to become more relevant and attract more attention, pollsters have begun to conduct very specialized surveys. A recent poll by COMPAS for the National Post contacted only CEOs. Its aim was to gauge the effect on the economy of various possible outcomes of the federal election.
The results revealed the CEOs believe that a minority government lead by Paul Martin would be detriental to the economy. While a Stephen Harper majority would be most favourable.
It's not suprising that the same CEOs declared Stephen Harper, by a 2-1 margin over Paul Martin, the winner of the televised national debates. they also indicated, by a 53 per cent to 36 per cent margin, that they'd be voting for Mr. Harper's Conservatives.
And while the results may be persuasive, the problem with this poll lies in the sample's demographic. Unlike the general public, who have identified healthcare as the major issue in this election, only 17 per cent of the CEOs said the leaders' stance on health care most affected their opinion.
The results of the poll and its value as an campaign yardstick is diminshed by the vast gap between what CEOs and the common man need in a government. And as with all polls the pure numbers are only part of the story.