Appeared in the North Shore News – May 24, 2013
It appears to be impossible to avoid attending inquest after inquest into the Great 2013 British Columbia Election.
But of course I continue to disagree with the so-called experts.
Because, though they have tried to regain their shaken composure from their exploded prognostications with artful explanations of how they got it wrong, I’ve read or heard none who got to the heart of the matter.
“Nobody” predicted Christy Clark’s “upset” victory, stated the shocked experts. “No one” foresaw the spunky Liberal premier’s crushing of the brainy Adrian Dix’s New Democrats.
Perhaps none had more hen fruit on his face than Hamish I. Marshall, chief research officer for a distinguished number-crunching firm that compiled the results of the major polls and, a few days before the May 14 election, impressively announced that the NDP had a 99.98 per cent of winning.
Yes, just .02 per cent short of the certainty that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning.
He’d have been closer to success if he’d waited till the full moon shone in the crotch of the sacred tree, and solemnly marched around it smeared in blue dye, chanting Aztec incantations.
But while Marshall handsomely and quickly conceded that he’d got it wrong, he added: “Everyone got it wrong.”
Wrong. As readers of this fine journal know, casting all modesty aside and lifting the flag of shameless vanity, I got it right – starting from last August and continuing in the public prints to four days before the election. (One editor conceded he thought I was insane. Afterwards a reader requested my Lotto numbers. Another solicited stock investment advice.) But I suspect other media people in the non-downtown B.C. press did too.
Here’s the nut of it: The pundits, the pollsters and the media got it totally wrong – and thus in self-exculpation whimpered the defence that “nobody” got it right – because they are a small herd of sheep in a small pond, if I may majestically mix metaphors.
These largely Vancouver-Victoria elites, which I would estimate at no more than two or three dozen people in the front lines of shaping opinion, are so incestuous that “not one” (and this time the phrase is accurate) broke away from the herd and looked at Main Street – where the actual people live and the voting takes place, and at who really cast ballots.
Thus the media punditocracy, who read the polls, and the political scientists, who read the entrails, and the pollsters, whose methodology was proven inaccurate and simply dumb, all nodded their heads together predicting an NDP victory, and have all fallen back hanging those heads in shared commiseration, with the unspoken subtext that, well, it was the other guys who misled them.
I wonder if there was an independent thought among them. Possibly there was, but it was kept safely in the brain.
I sympathize. It is a hard thing to admit. I’ve been there, a bit player. And no longer am. Which is equally hard to admit. It’s great fun to be in the daily newspaper game. Once outside of it, one is assumed to be dead.
The fact is that the best and most energetic of these good people can’t possibly read all the comments and talk to enough people (some of whom lie through their teeth anyway, as many do when polled) in so many places to get a feel for what is happening on the ground, as opposed to in the charts, graphs, in war-room cackle, and other places closer to Lotto-land than they are willing to admit. Vaughn Palmer was the only one of the select I know of who acknowledged before the election that an extensive riding-by-riding media study is simply impossible.
More plainly, they drink each other’s bathwater. And bathwater being unsavoury if not toxic, they all repaired to the toilet and vomited together. This provided an irresistible target to Christy Clark. She kicked ass.
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It mystifies me why David Mitchell is one of the go-to imported pundits, interviewed immediately before and after the election by Bill Good on CKNW and authoring a thumb-sucker in the Sun afterward.
Mitchell was a B.C. Liberal MLA a generation ago, when he tried and failed to gather supposedly like-minded souls from other parties into a sort of new party. He also wrote a competent biography of W.A.C. Bennett. He departed for Ottawa, where he does something fuzzy for a fuzzy public policy thingee.
His Sun piece was thrillingly headed Clark Proves Campaigns Matter. Gee, no kidding?
Whether listening to or reading Mitchell, I’ve learned nothing. Somebody must. Or think somebody does.
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I was delighted by Naomi Yamamoto’s crushing defeat of Dixian Craig Keating in North Vancouver-Lonsdale. She was condescendingly dismissed by the aforementioned Hamish Marshall as a “weak” MLA.
© Trevor Lautens, 2013