From Tokyo, the Angus Reid polling results look more like an Angus Reid problem than a worry for the B.C. Liberals.
At least that was Premier Christy Clark's view of the matter during a conference call with reporters three days into her Pacific Rim trade mission.
The online poll of 800 people found 50 per cent of voters in the NDP camp and 23 per cent expressing a preference for the B.C. Liberals, with the B.C. Conservatives just four points back.
As a point of reference, the NDP got 21.5 per cent of the vote in the 2001 election. It got them two seats.
Clark more or less dismissed her abysmal numbers entirely during the phone call. But that raises a separate problem.
If she doesn't have much faith in pollsters, why is her government relying on them so much? Specifically, why did they hire the same firm earlier that she now says you can't take seriously?
Her government recently posted a response to a Vancouver Sun freedom- of-information request that shows it polled people last year on every conceivable aspect of the B.C. Jobs Plan and its monster advertising campaign. Liberals were curious — to a ludicrous degree — on what people thought about every facet of the strategy, right down to the tag line.
(They tested “Jobs: Made in B.C.,” “Jobs B.C.,” “Jobs Matter,” "Accelerate B.C.", "B.C. Jobs Strategy/Plan/Agenda.” Then the government picked the second-least favourite one — B.C. Jobs Plan.)
And guess who produced dozens of pages of findings on that and other crucial questions?
The Angus Reid firm. The main conclusions were that the general level of satisfaction with the way things are going (49 per cent) was higher than past years and “the animosity towards the provincial government is definitely not as high as it was under the previous premier.”
Other firms polled on the imagery and the graphics. “Some felt the white printing stood out more; others felt the black did so.”
There’s no total price tag on the countless pages of bilge produced while researching what people think of the ad campaign. But the bills made public show it’s considerable. There’s $25,700 here, $134,682 there, $70,298 over there. The invoices indicate they spent at least $32,500 on focus groups, testing people’s reactions to the ad campaign.
Is there no one in this government with enough guts to make a call on these details, without ordering expensive surveys on whether people like the sound of “Canada Starts Here?”
Despite all the money the government spent on these urgent questions, when the pollsters come out a few months later with findings against her, Clark dismisses the whole exercise.
Clark said she takes the results, particularly online polling results, with a grain of salt. “I don't think they tell us very much.”
She said the Angus Reid findings that she is continuing to submarine in popularity contribute to a “growing cynicism about polling in general and Angus Reid accuracy in particular.”
“I just think it's hard to take seriously. I mean think about it, you get a phone call, you’re cooking dinner for your kid and your son is saying: ‘Hey mom, I need help with my homework’... and the dog is barking and the person on the other end of the line says: ‘How are you going to vote in the next election?’”
“And you're thinking, what election? … “If I have a frustration, it's that some media outlets just reprint it because they need to fill space and don’t give it a lot of critical analysis.”
Guilty as charged.
But it's equally frustrating to see her spend taxpayers’ money to find lame answers to stupid questions, with the cash going to firms that she now finds hard to take seriously.