Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lemon: Results of Poll - Effect of Debate on Faith Based Schools Opinion

We conducted a poll of our readers from the period September 21 to September 28 to determine if there had been any effect on their opinion on John Tory's Faith Based Schools policy as a result of the leaders debate last week.
The question was:
After the Leaders Debate, have you changed your opinion on John Tory's Faith Based Schools Position?
The data are as follows:
1 --- No - I still disagree with him --- 25%
2 --- No - I still agree with him --- 59%
3 --- Yes - I now support his position --- 15%
4 --- Yes - I now disagree with him --- 0%
We conducted an analysis of the findings after the numbers settled in at a consistent percentage split.
The accuracy of the poll is limited by a number of factors:
1/ It was posted on a Blogging Tories site which results in a bias as far as the general political preference of readers and likely responders. So the "agree" responders might just be pro-Tory. As well, the "disagree" responders might just be anti-Tory.
2/ It was not a random poll - responders were self appointed.
3/ The sample size was small - 171 responses. Responders could only enter the poll once, but could change their vote subsequently.
4/ There was no available response "Did Not Watch the Debate", so there was a bias toward those who did watch the debate and are likely politically addicted.
5/ Some number of responders in Cohort 1 may be anti-Tory responders.
It's not surprising that 59% of the responders (Group 2) agreed with Tory's FBS policy and did not change their opinion as a result of the debate. That group likely represents "true blue" supporters and those who have a positive opinion on the policy.
It was also not surprising that (almost) no one changed their initial opinion against Tory's position post-debate; the initial position was represented quite negatively by the media and it was unlikely that any debate event would have made the policy less palatable.
Questions 1 and 3, however present interesting data. We tracked the poll over the course of the last week and found that there cohorts began at 2:1 but that this declined during the week to settle at 1.67:1 (with more still disagreeing).
After accepting the limitations of these polling data, it is observed that as many as 40% of (likely) Tory-positive voters initially disagreed with his position on Faith Based Schools. This is a huge percentage. Considering that the sample are most likely Tory supporters, this would translate into an even larger percentage in the universe of all voters. This issue may have stalled progress in voter support that otherwise might have been seen and is likely seen in the recent poll conducted.
Among these supporters that were negatively opinioned on the issue, about a third have changed their position to a position of support (note - see limiting factor #5 above). While significant, this trend does not seem to be strong enough to recapture the initial level of general support.
The conclusion is that the FBS issue remains a considerable negative issue for John Tory, and while there might be some prospect for improvement as time goes by it is uncertain if lost support can be gained by election day.

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