Sunday, March 18, 2007

Manitobans are smarter than the pundits

What do we make of yet another demonstration that the Manitoba punditry clearly has it wrong, this time with their pronouncements that the recent sound and fury over Crocus was a body blow to the NDP?

With the release of the quarterly Probe/Free Press numbers on the weekend, we see that not only does it appear the opposition is not making gains on the NDP, but Probe says the government is actually up a couple points from December.

Also, they asked political issues and found out that Crocus was top-of-mind for just 2% of Manitobans. That's within the margin of error of zero.

As followers of this space may have noticed, we frequently take umbrage with Probe's political prognostications and have pointed out numerous problems with their reported results. (See here, here, here , here and here.)

So perhaps you'd think with a rosier view of the NDP's fortunes published on the weekend, we would ease up on the Probies.

Wishful thinking.

To their credit, though, in this latest outing it seems the significant anomaly that showed up in December has been miraculously rectified. Specifically, Probe had been showing the NDP losing significantly in the northwest quadrant of Winnipeg (where the NDP currently holds all but two seats) and winning hand over fist in the southwest quadrant (where the NDP holds only 5 ½ seats out of 9 ½ -- indicating at least one of River Heights, Tuxedo, Charleswood or Fort Whyte could fall into NDP hands). This result was unlikely, to say the least.

Today, Probe has the NDP leading in Winnipeg by 12 points -- a huge gap. And according to the Free Press, "Across Winnipeg, the NDP is in the lead in every area except the southwest."

No explanation, mind you, of how this switcheroo happened in just three months. Just poof. Problem disappeared.

But what hasn’t disappeared is the predictions and explanations by the Probe boffins, based on no apparent information other than guesswork.

Chris Adams seems a smart man. Yet he was at a loss to explain his recent predictions about Crocus’s effect on the government’s popularity. "We do know that this will be an explosive thing, leading up to the next election," he said to the CBC on Feb. 27. "It is an issue which should damage the NDP. The question is, to what extent will the damage be sustained by opposition."

On Saturday, Adams seemed to admit he was off-base:

“… a few weeks ago he would have put money on the fact that the NDP would drop in the next poll because of all the haranguing it was facing over Crocus …"

Ah, wait for it though ....

“But it's been an issue for a long time now and people have built up an immunity or a callous to it.”

Whaaaaaa? Wait a minute. Is he saying what we think he’s saying?

Are Manitobans indeed simply weary of hearing about Crocus so they block it out and it isn’t affecting vote intention the way Adams think it ought to (or hoped it would)?

If that's the point, Adams is essentially saying that Manitobans have short attention spans and are too stupid to blame the NDP.

Well, that’s an interesting point of view.

We would suggest however a more likely conclusion is that Manitobans understand that the demise of what was in fact a private venture capital fund was an unfortunate event with many serious consequences, but it simply wasn’t the government’s fault.

In short, Manitobans are actually a lot smarter than Adams and the rest of the open-mouth set.


We are still in stunned disbelief of Team Huey’s attempt last week to blow smoke around a future Tory government privatizing Hydro.

So, let’s get this straight -- the essence of the announcement was they have a brand new shiny plan to really monkey around with Hydro (including not calling it Hydro anymore) in order to assure people they won’t do the really big monkeying around, privatizating the crown corp jewel of Manitoba.

Oh, yeah, and raising rates so we no longer have the cheapest electricity in North America is OK, especially as Stu2 will offset those with tax cuts.


Just to be clear, you cannot target tax cuts to compensate everyone for their bigger Hydro bill, which will vary greatly depending on individual consumption.

Sweater-boy must be on crack if he thinks that dog will hunt.