A website that aggregates data and projects who will win an election has two of Richmond’s four ridings as a “toss up” between the BC Liberals and the NDP, one as “NDP leaning” and another as “Liberal leaning.”
The numbers are published by 338Canada.com using a wide variety of data, but no local, riding-by-riding polls.
Richmond-Queensborough was one of the closest races in the 2017 election. BC Liberal candidate Jas Johal eventually won the riding with only 134 votes over Aman Singh.
As of Tuesday, Oct. 20, 338Canada was calling the riding a “NDP leaning” with Singh at 46 per cent, with a margin of error of 7.7 per cent, and Johal at 39.4 per cent, with a margin of error of 7.5 per cent.
Pollster Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., told the Richmond News, while it’s possible to extrapolate seat counts and projections with the methodology used, the problem is when people interpret it as an actual poll.
It’s also “problematic” when candidates use 338Canada projections as actual polls, especially those who aren’t “savvy” about what the website is doing, despite its clearly stated intentions.
“(338Canada is saying ) this is how we think the vote will land but it’s not an actual poll,” he said.
338Canada.com figures are not based on individual riding polls, rather they take into account electoral history, how the party is doing regionally and demographic information, for example, household income, age, population density, education and employment.
Canseco compared it to how individuals analyze a race based on observation and political analysis, not polls, for example, if a seat was won with a small margin or where a leader visits.
“We all make that analysis in our head,” he said.
Projecting seats by using country-wide or regional polls had its origins in the U.K. where people can actually bet on local elections, Canseco explained, so there was a keen interest to have accurate projections on how local seats would land.
Canseco added the projections are an “interesting exercise” but it’s not a substitute for polls; in fact, it relies on actual polls to extrapolate its seat projections.
“I don’t see a problem with this website – it’s actually a lot of fun,” Canseco said. “The problem I have is the misinterpretation.”
But this can happen with regular polls when questions are loaded or if you don’t allow an “undecided” option, results can be skewed, Canseco added.
Richmond-Steveston is labelled a “toss up” between NDP candidate Kelly Greene, current Richmond city councillor, leading in the polls at 50.9 per cent with a margin of error of 8.2 per cent, and BC Liberal candidate Matt Pitcairn, former CEO of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, at 47.6 per cent, with a margin of error of 8.2 per cent.
Richmond North Centre is currently labelled as “Liberal leaning” with incumbent BC Liberal MLA Teresa Wat at 47.8 per cent, with a margin of error of 8.1 per cent, and the NDP’s Jaeden Dela Torre at 42.4 per cent with a margin of error of 7.9 per cent.
In Richmond South Centre, with only two candidates running, 338Canada has labelled it a “toss up.”
NDP candidate Henry Yao is leading slightly in the projection at 50.9 per cent with a margin of error of 8.5 per cent. BC Liberal candidate Alexa Loo is at 49.1 per cent with a margin of error of 8.5 per cent.