To nobody’s surprise, Quito Maggi and his Mainstreet Research have been pronounced guilty of peddling nosestretchers in the great Calgary election polling boondoggle of 2017 (Franks passim).
But the verdict, rendered by a star chamber of deep thinkers for the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA, DOA, LOL), says more about the jurors and the dismal state of polling, than it does about sadsack Grift of the Maggi.
In their report, the jurors—Paul Adams, Richard Zussman and Christopher Adams, wrote that “polling done by Mainstreet Research for Postmedia — the company that owns the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun — was especially off the mark and detrimental to public trust in the polling industry.
“Their polls were seriously, methodologically flawed [and] in the media and on social media, [Mainstreet] expressed a kind of bloated self-confidence that was not justified by what they knew to be problems in their methodology.”
The polls, our troika found, “significantly affected” the course of the mayoralty campaign” between Naheed Nenshi and Bill Smith.
An early poll suggested Mayor Nenshi was trailing Smith, who had little public profile at the time, by nine percentage points. Two subsequent Mainstreet polls put Smith even further ahead: by 17 and 13 points, respectively.
Curiously, the Adams’ inquisition made no mention of Maggi’s methodology, the robotic elephant in the room, aka IVR or robocalling. Maggi is a great disciple of IVR, but decent pollsters consider it to be fraudulent rubbish.
Pollsters with more flexible integrity use it almost exclusively, since it costs basically nothing. An entry fee of only $5K for an IVR system, and any old hobbledehoy can claim to be a pollster. Which they do.
With a 99.5% refusal rate, robo-calls successfully interview only one in 200 people attempted. And more often than not, that person is Ted Kaczynski, eager to share his beliefs and opinions with an anonymous telephone recording.
Small wonder bonehead IVR “pollsters” can’t even figure out the winner of an election, much less the size of the margin.
Perhaps the star chamber didn’t want to delve into the robo calling angle because their old compadre, Frank Graves, head conductor of the EKOS government gravy train, is a heavy user.
For the uninitiated, The Graves Guide to Trousering Loadsofdough is to influence contracting through Ottawa’s senior civil servants, who dispense more patronage in an hour than the entire cabinet does in a year.
To that end, the Graves formula goes like this: Retain numerous DMs and DGs when they retire, always thank the contracting civil servant with a written testimonial in the final report, noting how helpful he/she was, and how their government program being evaluated worked outstandingly well in all respects. This leads to the civil servant’s promotion.
It is a lucrative endeavor and Graves has been working it since the Mulroney premiership.
But Graves’ heavy reliance on the sketchy IVR/robo calls, hasn’t been well received by his colleagues in the biz. Even noted pussy footer Angus Reid weighed in this week: “In Canada the recent mayoralty race in Calgary showed just how wrong some pollsters can be – especially when they rely on IVR.”
As for that guilty verdict on Quito, it must be noted that two of the three jurors, Paul Adams and Zussman, are past/present employees of EKOS, and Adams continues to sing their praises on social media.