I had written before about how the Literary Digest, with a reputation for predicting the results of elections, in 1936 got it completely wrong. They had predicted that the Republican Governor of Kansas, Alf Landon, would beat out Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt, with Roosevelt losing 56 percent to 44 percent. But when the votes were tallied, Roosevelt would win with the largest landslide in U.S. history. The Republicans took just two states.
And that's because the Literary Digest had not kept up with the times. It was the Depression, and many were unable to buy magazines or own telephones. Had they got out and spoke with the people, they would have found a different story.
Canadian pollsters are now warning Canadians of the same thing. Polls are only accurate within 50 percentage points of reality.
Barbara Yaffe writes in the Vancouver Sun: Rash of bonfires gives Conservative support burnt fingers
Following an avalanche of Conservative campaign snafus, signs are pointing to a softening of support for the Harper team in advance of the all-important debate nights scheduled for next week.Yaffe wonders why Harper is still ahead in the polls. Silly girl. Listen to the pollsters.
... Additionally, Harper -despite valiant efforts by campaign organizers to showcase him riding an all-terrain vehicle and singing a Beatles tune -has appeared controlling and rigid with journalists on the campaign trail. All of which might not have been so damaging had Ignatieff not been surprising everyone with his affable, easygoing campaign style
Canada's youth will play an important role this time around and the youth use cell phones and social media. They are not sitting at home waiting for a phone call from Nik Nanos.
And Canada's youth will want things brought to the table that are the polar opposite of the Conservative campaign strategy.
They want help with tuition, not corporate tax cuts. They want a serious attempt at fighting climate change, not subsidies going to the tar sands. They do not want to go to jail for two years, simply for having a single marijuana plant, so do not want to see prison expansion or tough on crime legislation that gives corporate tricksters a free ride, and a job in the PMO.
And they want their government to fight poverty and homelessness, not buy fighter jets with their future.
Unless the pollsters start paying attention, they will be a dying breed. Just ask Literary Digest.
Oh, wait, they can't. Literary Digest went out of business in 1938.