Election ‘statistics’

It’s interesting to read the survey statistics given by two different newspapers. They both survey ‘popularity’ but ask different questions of (presumably) different crowds of Canadians.

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On Metro’s London weekend edition, They used The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey for the personal popularity of each party leader. I would surmise from the article that they asked respondents whether they saw Ignatieff, Harper, Layton etc. favourably (+) or negatively (-).

Ignatieff was 42+ and 50-

Harper was 43+ and 52-

Layton was 68+ and 26-

The poll was conducted from 1000 Canadians between April 14-17 and considered “accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.” (What does that even mean?)

The article itself was all about Iggy seeing his popularity spike (interesting perspective as he is still third), and about anti-Conservative strategic voting websites.

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Then you have National Post published the day before using the Ipsos Reid national survey with the question, “If an election were held today which party would you vote for?”

Conservatives are clearly in first place, NDP has come into second place, and Liberals are third. Where the other survey was driven by personal popularity, this one is, I dare say, a little more realistic in the framing of the question. Just because a guy is popular does not mean people will cast a ballot for that party.

Statistics are strange and wonderful beasts. You really need to know what you’re looking at for them to be of remote value.

The Politics of Weather Forecasts

Yesterday, the weather forecast for London, ON on April 2, 2010 was 28°C with a “Feels Like” of 38°C. I can’t remember the low, but was very shocked at these numbers given that it’s been hovering around 0-10°C the past few days.

Today, the forecast is 24°C with a low of 11°C.

This forecast may have been made more conservative in anticipation of complaints. If people make plans for excessively warm weather and then it turns out to be not that warm, then the weather forecasters would have some angry people to deal with.

In Hong Kong, raising various rainstorm or typhoon warnings is a highly political subject. Because some warnings mean life must go on as usual and some mean that you must stay home/indoors, the time that a signal is officially in effect affects whether people send their kids to school and whether they plan to go to work in the morning or after lunch, among other things. Raising a signal at certain times could cause serious traffic jams and make people late for work who must all suddenly leave at the same time, or it might mean that people are supposed to stay at work or school when they really want to get home. Balancing the real danger with convenience for the greatest number of people is tricky.

With this Friday, I wonder whether it will be freakishly warm, and they just went conservative with the forecast to avoid complaints that it really wasn’t that warm.

Beijing Olympics and politicization

All this clamour about China and its (foreign) policy in Darfur / Sudan and Tibet, and Steven Spielberg and Prince Charles boycotting the Olympics… I don’t really know what to think.

Except that Steven Spielberg should either renounce his American citizenship or declare that he doesn’t care grit about all the people dying in the Middle Eastern countries the US is fighting/occupying. Iraq / Iran anyone? Afghanistan? All this violence in a country for the one nutjob who caused violence in NYC.

Versus China’s economic expedience. (of which the US is also guilty – and we don’t see him objecting to the US continuing trade with China or anything)

Oh I don’t know. I guess I feel sorry for Beijing – so much is changing in China and you can’t expect it all to be flowers and marshmallows overnight. And I really like watching the Olympics.