The B.C. pollster who got it right -- and those who didn't

'Clearly we missed some of it pretty badly'

Andy Clark/Reuters

For pollsters, the B.C. election was a cock-up of epic proportions.

Today, some offered mea culpas.

“This is a blow to the industry,” said Steve Mossop, president of Insights West.

“Clearly we missed some of it pretty badly,” said Ekos Research Associates vice-president, Frank Graves.

But others are digging in their heels.

Angus Reid, whose firm had the NDP at 45 per cent and the Liberals with just 36 a day ahead of the election, actually called this “polling at its finest.”

Reid suggested the NDP really were ahead. He put the blame on Liberal voters who, he says, were more motivated to turn out because of polls showing just that.

So did Ipsos vice-president Kyle Braid.

Voters, said Braid, “upset their own applecart.” The same excuse was trotted out after the last polling face-plant, in Alberta in 2011.

But there is one pollster who was all smiles today, one who, alone among the pack, had this election nailed: Dimitri Pantazopoulos. Or, as he is known inside the Liberal warroom, “The Greek.”

On Saturday, three days before the vote, Pantazopoulos had the Liberals winning 48 seats (they won 50 on Tuesday), and the NDP at 36 (they picked up 33).

Pantazopoulos, who does polling for centre-right parties in Western Canada, won’t release his complete data, but says the Liberals were consistently trending up.

With brand-name pollsters predicting the complete opposite, he cops to moments of doubt. “You have to keep up your nerve up,” he says.

As to his methods, Pantazopoulos took a larger sample than the major polling firms, and polled every day, focusing on swing ridings, he explained.

And he relied on old-fashioned telephone surveys. He has no time, he says, for the robocalls and online surveys Angus Reid and Ipos-Reid used in this election.

Those were the polls labelled “exclusive for the Globe and Mail/CTV,” etc. They were also provided free of charge.

As premier Clark joked today, “they were worth every penny.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.