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Before and after the orange surge: Pollsters reflect on their predictions

An Ottawa resident enters a church to cast his ballot in the May 2, 2011, federal election

FRED CHARTRAND/THE CANADIAN PRESS

NDP supporters weren't the only ones wearing orange Monday night - the pollsters who boldly predicted a record showing for the party also had a lot on the line as they nervously watched early results trickle in.

While most pollsters were close on their popular vote predictions, a strong Conservative majority caught almost everyone by surprise. Here's how the number crunchers reacted to the results.

Nik Nanos, Nanos Research

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What he said prior to election: "What we know at this point assuming the trends continue is that the Layton New Democrats will have their best showing in history. The Ignatieff Liberals will come third in terms of popular vote and the separatist BQ will be dealt a resounding rebuke from Quebecers registering their worst showing in history."

What he said last night: "I'm very pleased with our results - we captured the ebb and flow of the campaign as well as the outcome. The important thing in election research is the trend, and capturing the trend and that is what we did effectively. I generally believe most polls were accurate on the day they were done. The main difference for us was polling right up to the last minute. I don't think we need to standardize polling or anything - in general I'd say the results were pretty good."

Jaideep Mukerji, Angus Reid Public Opinion

What he said prior to election: "Despite the fluctuations in voting numbers, the views of Canadians on this question [a majority]remain remarkably stable. Three in 10 think the Conservative government has performed well and deserves a majority."

What he said last night: "The Tories had an energetic and cohesive base. Polling was difficult this election - in the last election we had an understanding that the Liberals were in trouble. This time it was difficult to know if the NDP was a flash in the pan, sometimes these surges diminish after time."

Frank Graves, EKOS Research

What he said prior to election: "We would see a Conservative minority where the NDP were within 20 seats and the NDP and the Liberals combined would have a narrow majority between them."

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What he said last night: "This has not been a good night for me. We were almost spot on about the popular vote, but where we really screwed up was with the Tory majority. We need to go back and do some work to find out what went wrong, but nobody has the resources to do this. This is done on a shoestring budget, and while we do our best to try and understand our failures it requires analysis and time and nobody is really interested in that."

Darrell Bricker, Ipsos Reid

What he said prior to election: "Clearly, getting the vote out on election day may mean more than ever to the Tory vote motivating machinery as it could very well be the determining factor in whether the Conservatives win yet another minority government or their coveted majority."

What he said last night: "A great deal has been said about polls and the practice of polling during this election campaign - some of which we agreed with and much of which we disagreed with. But, as Canada's largest market and opinion research company, our polling during this campaign was carried off flawlessly by an incredible team of hard working young professionals."

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