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Tough day-after for Brandon Liberal

Inaccurate poll, Tory machine factors in loss

Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale garnered 42.7 per cent of the vote. The party only got five per cent of the vote in 2011.


Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale garnered 42.7 per cent of the vote. The party only got five per cent of the vote in 2011.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/11/2013 (2413 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BRANDON -- Liberal Rolf Dinsdale, who lost to Conservative Larry Maguire by only 391 votes in Brandon-Souris, said Tuesday the loss was "still sinking in."

"I always prepared for this eventuality, but it's particularly hard because it was so close," Dinsdale said.

Looking back on the campaign, Dinsdale said it was an "amazing experience."

"We certainly made huge inroads and sent a very clear message to Mr. Harper that a lot of people are unhappy," he said. "We didn't quite get as far as we wanted -- that's what makes it a little bit more disappointing."

Brandon University political science associate professor Kelly Saunders said even though the Liberals didn't win, the major increase in voter support was a "huge achievement."

"To come from five per cent of the vote in 2011 to 43 per cent... they've built a machine out of nothing," Saunders said.

"Now of course, the challenge is to keep that momentum going."

Maguire won with 44.1 per cent, while Dinsdale had 42.7 per cent.

As for the Conservative party, Saunders said they have to heed the message of election night carefully.

"I think they have to be a little bit more humble and look at what they've been doing, how they've been reaching out to their base and realize that they just can't take Westman voters for granted as perhaps they have done in the past," she said.

Dinsdale said he plans to explore career options in Brandon and is looking ahead to the next federal election.

"I hope I'll be running in 2015," he said.

Meanwhile, NDP candidate Cory Szczepanski came in a distant third. He had positive words for what he called a "tough" campaign.

"It was amazing," he said. "I'm proud of everything that I did... . It's just such a good feeling to come through that unscathed, so to speak."

Saunders said the NDP will have to do some "serious soul-searching," following this disappointing showing.

In the last poll before the byelection, Forum had Dinsdale up a whopping 29 points ahead of Maguire.

John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, said in his view shoddy polling methods by some companies and the media's undiscerning appetite for numbers -- no matter how dubious -- are dragging the industry's reputation through the mud.

He wants the market research industry to crack down on pollsters.

The Free Press questioned the poll's reliability, reporting a number of constituents had been called as many as six times by Forum. It also carried the results, as did other media outlets.

If voters were called repeatedly for the Forum poll, Wright said the survey sample would not be representative of the riding's population.

In close contests like Brandon-Souris, where less than 400 votes separated the Tories and Liberals, Wright said it's important to ensure polls are accurate and properly conducted.

"If one vote was influenced by a bogus piece of work, that's one vote too many," he said.

Forum's Lorne Bozinoff defended his company's record, noting it accurately pegged the results in two other byelections Monday: Toronto Centre and Bourassa in Montreal.

"We know (automated phone polls) can work, there's just no question about that. The question is why were they off in Brandon?" he said.

Bozinoff said "there's no way" anyone was called more than once per survey.

He speculated the difference between the final Brandon poll and the byelection outcome may have been that the Tories had a better "get out the vote" ground game than the Grits.

As well, he said some constituents who were angry about the perception of a fixed Tory nomination may have found they just couldn't bring themselves to vote Liberal once they got into the ballot booth.


-- Brandon Sun, with files from The Canadian Press


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Updated on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 6:02 PM CST: Removed quote wrongly attributed.

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