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March 14th, 2011:

Actually, my 7 year old daughter is far more mature…

Feschuk is a pretty funny guy.

Authors have devoted entire books to trying to decipher and understand Stephen Harper. But is he really that complex? I’d say his pattern of behaviour over recent years has given Canadians a rather clear sense of who he is.

He’s the only leader of a G8 country who also happens to be a seven-year-old boy.

A seven-year-old cannot tolerate being wrong, so he goes to any lengths to explain things away.So does Harper. Consider his reaction when the Federal Court of Appeal ruled the Conservatives had violated our election laws with their “in-and-out” financing racket.

First, Harper called it an “administrative dispute”—which is like getting caught cheating on your wife and trying to dismiss it as an “anatomical incident.”

He then downplayed the ruling, claiming there have been “different court decisions on this particular matter.” That’s an interesting take on how our justice system works. Last I checked, court is not a best-of-five thing. You cannot, for instance, lose at the Supreme Court and still claim to have squeaked out a thrilling three-to-two court victory.

(By the way, one of the Conservative insiders charged by Elections Canada tweeted that anyone who thinks Harper knew about the illegal financing scheme is “an idiot.” That claim makes perfect sense because Harper is renowned for his laid-back, hands-off style of management.)



I’ll be keeping that pic for posterity!


Blog of the Week –

First, before getting to the regularly scheduled Blog of the Week post, can someone please tell me that this is indeed an early April Fool’s prank!??? This cannot be serious, can it? Who the hell could conceive of spending $100 million to commemorate a 200 year old war???

OK.  BP dropping. All is good. Serenity now…


You might have noticed by now that these BotW posts focus on blogs that are more or less aligned along a “theme”. Food and wine are two of my fave things, but both pale in comparison to my obsession (yup, if its not one, it’s close) with politics and more specifically with political data.

So it stands to reason that one of these BotW scribbles would sooner or later look at a political blog. And one that is not simply a series of partisan rants.

ThreeHundredEight is such a beast. The authors do a bang-up job in providing the reader with a balanced analysis of the latest polling numbers – not by focusing on one poll alone, but my looking at trends in the data over time and using a weighted average of all of the major polls. As a data geek, I can, from a professional perspective, appreciate the focus on trends and on the need to examine a weighted aggregate of the polling results.

Interpreting poll results is nasty business most of the time, but ThreeHundredEight ably navigates the briny waters admirably and uses methodologically robust tools.

Check out this text from the site’s Friday posts which talks about two polls that were released the day prior.

Yesterday, we were treated to two new polls, one from Angus-Reid and the other from EKOS Research. They told somewhat different stories, as Angus-Reid pegs the gap between the Conservatives and Liberals at 16 points, while EKOS has it at around seven.

How do we reconcile these two polls? We don’t! (emphasis mine)

I’m not going to compare the two polls as they aren’t comparable. Angus-Reid uses an online panel, while EKOS uses a telephone system. Angus-Reid polled on two days (March 8 and 9), while EKOS polled on nine days (February 24 to March 8, excluding weekends). Finally, Angus-Reid polled 1,021 people, while EKOS polled 2,892 people. The two polls aren’t at all the same.

But what the two polls do have in common is that neither shows a significant shift in support for any of the parties since the last time these pollsters were in the field.

Don’t compare the two! Not. Ever. THIS is why I like this site – no dancing around similarities in modes, MoEs or sample sizes. Just cut to the quick and say that only an utter fool would look at these two polls side by side!

YES! A victory for robust statistics! Woo-hoo!

OK, Trashy – chillllll…..

Another thing that I like about the blog is the effective use of charts as explanatory tools. I am a visual learner and can grasp a message presented visually much faster and clearer than when written down.  ThreeHundredEight takes the polling numbers – in this example, from the EKOS poll – and presents them like this to show the regional breakouts:

Clear and easy to understand.

Then, the results of recent polls are aggregated to show regional breakouts based on the aggregated and weighted results of the most recent numbers, thusly:

Then they go one step further and extrapolates these results to come up with estimates of how these polling numbers translate into seats on a regional basis.

Cool, eh?

Well, for me it is!

Anyhow, be you a data geek, a political geek or just like pretty charts with lots of colours, ThreeHundredEight should be a site that you plug into your RSS feed!