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My election pledge

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I spent a cold and blustery election night in 2006 in the Selkrik Smitty's covering former Premier Ed Schreyer's race against James Bezan, the young farmer now the Tory MP for the Interlake riding. Is there anything more awesomely Canadian than that? Anyway, it was pretty clear early on that Ed wasn't going to win, so a lot of us spent the night ping-ponging between all the TVs in the banquet hall watching the returns from other ridings.There was a lot of swearing of the "Holy &*%#!!" variety when it became clear upstart video game motorized billboard guy Rod Bruinooge had defeated Reg Alcock. Nobody outside the Tory inner circle - not the smartest mainstream pundit or the most astute blogger - saw that coming. As one of many reporters who had totally ignored that riding, I was chastened.Nearly the same thing a few months later during the civic election, a race my colleague Bartley Kives and I thought we knew inside and out. There were more inklings that incumbent councillors Jae Eadie and Mark Lubosh might be in tough races, but I was still blown away to the point of deadline paralysis when they got soundly trounced.   So I have now learned that I have essentially no idea how a race will turn out on e-day. Without access to deep, deep polling data that mines the hearts of every voter, there is no way to gauge the outcome of races. We can guess and extrapolate, based on what the candidates are saying and doing, but we watchers don't really know. So we just shouldn't guess. Even in Portage-Lisgar and Provencher, where the Prime Minister could get caught on gay.com and still probably win.Election campaigns matter, and a lot can change in 30-some-odd days. Voters are not homogenous and they have the right to make up their minds without journalist pretending races are a foregone conclusion.So, in covering the looming federal election (only the first and last bits, because I am going overseas for three weeks) I promise to do my best to avoid predictions, even the ones couched by words such as "likely" and "expected." That doesn't mean we won't focus more on races that are obviously tighter than others, but I'd like to make a concerted effort not to totally ignore the ones that are "solidly held by the Tories" or "traditionally Liberal." Winnipeg Free Press subscribers will soon receive a ten-percenter in their mailboxes to that effect.

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first covering city hall and then the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter. Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school. She has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category.

She was a Southam journalism fellow at the University of Toronto’s Massey College in 2012-13, where she studied indigenous issues, urban planning and political science. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists and has served on several boards.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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