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Confident Clark never trusted polls

Stricken NDP goes silent in aftermath

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VANCOUVER -- The day after a stunning provincial election victory, triumphant Liberal Premier Christy Clark told a packed room of reporters she wasn't surprised her party defied early predictions to beat the NDP in British Columbia.

But she was likely in the minority.

Pollsters perplexed by faulty forecasts

OTTAWA -- Canada's pollsters have struck out and are now scrambling to explain how their predictions in three consecutive provincial elections turned out to be so wildly wrong.

Strike three came Tuesday when Christy Clark's Liberals came back from the polling dead to easily recapture government in British Columbia. The polls were similarly, though not quite as spectacularly, wrong in last September's Quebec election and the April 2012 Alberta election.

Ipsos Reid, the country's largest pollster, conducted an exit poll in B.C. that it says explains why its poll one day before Tuesday's election -- which had given Adrian Dix's NDP an eight-point lead -- was so far off the mark.

It suggests 11 per cent of B.C. voters made up their minds in the polling booths. That, combined with low voter turnout and a shift in voters' priorities over the course of the campaign to the economy from wanting change, resulted in Clark's stunning victory, according to the Ipsos analysis of the exit poll.

"In this regard, our last poll should have had more attention paid to those who intend to get out and vote as opposed to just those who issued a voter preference," the analysis says.

But Harris Decima chairman Allan Gregg said it's just not plausible for pollsters to blame their failure to accurately predict results in three different provincial elections on a last-minute decision or shifts among voters to the winning party.

-- The Canadian Press

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While Clark was pleased to meet with the media Wednesday, New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix and other members of the NDP camp weren't taking calls and messages were left unreturned.

The Liberals were almost 20 percentage points back in the polls when the election started and while some other polls had the Liberal party closing the gap to around nine points, pollsters and pundits didn't come close to predicting the Liberal romp.

Clark said she never trusted the polls.

'You ask someone how (they are) going to vote two months from now and they give you an answer, but the answer doesn't necessarily have a whole lot of relevance because most of us don't know what we're going to do two months from now'

-- B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark, referring to the inaccurate predictions made by pollsters

"You ask someone how (they are) going to vote two months from now and they give you an answer, but the answer doesn't necessarily have a whole lot of relevance because most of us don't know what we're going to do two months from now," she said.

"Most people are waiting for the campaign to start so they can learn about what it is the parties stand for, who the leaders are, what the vision is that we're presenting in the competition."

Clark said she sensed a change in momentum for her party after the televised leaders' debate two weeks before the election as voters honed in on her economic message.

She said the NDP leader's flip-flop on the Kinger Morgan pipeline was also a factor because he seemed to be saying no to economic development before it even begins -- a sentiment also felt by unions that are traditionally pro-NDP.

While Clark triumphantly led her party to a 50-seat majority government, she lost her own seat to the NDP's David Eby in her own riding of Vancouver-Point Grey.

It will be more than a week before it is determined which member of her caucus will step down so she can run for a seat again.

Under similar circumstances, an MLA in a safe seat might be expected to resign his or her seat so the leader could run in a byelection, but Clark said she will not be having that conversation with anyone until the final election results are in on May 27.

Clark explained the loss of her seat was as a consequence of her travelling around the province during the election campaign rather than spending more time in Vancouver-Point Grey.

"To me, we won the big war on this," she told reporters. "So at the end of the day, we got a chance to protect the economy of British Columbia, and I'll find a way into the house if that's where the votes end up."

Max Cameron, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, said it is likely that Clark will have to take the seat of someone who is either approaching the end of a career, or who accepts that he or she is dispensable.

"But it has to be a reasonably safe seat," he said. "I mean, this is a huge victory for her, but it's a little embarrassing that she has to go through another step."

On Wednesday, Dix wasn't available for comment and others close to the campaign did not answer their phones or return calls.

Some campaign workers who did answer calls said they would pass on requests for interviews, but suggested they had yet to hear from campaign managers or MLAs.

At the NDP's Vancouver election night headquarters, stand-ins for Dix were rehearsing his victory speech on the stage of the convention centre. But Dix never did read that speech, and when he took to the stage to deliver his concession speech, some openly wept.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 16, 2013 A10

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