Wagging the dog? Polls become a story to watch.

By Ian Capstick · September 28, 2015

The Media Narrative

Conservative polling numbers are on the uptick. There is an overall softening of reported NDP vote in urban centres and Liberals are gaining traction in Ontario. Polling is going to be a massive story this week.

This means it’s a tough week ahead for the NDP. The media have been waiting for the numbers to move into a place where they can declare the logjam broken. In a literal logjam felled trees rushing down a river often resulted in blockage and when that happened many just sank to the bottom. This is the fate the NDP will be attempting to avoid this week.

Without getting too existential on a Monday morning, we are at the place in the campaign where polling and opinion really can wag the dog. If you don’t recognize this expression, check out the 1997 political film starring Robert De Niro which popularized and lampooned the notion of false events overtaking more substantive issues in politics.

The movie opens with the following:

Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because the dog is smarter than the tail.
If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.

Polling is really smart and has the air of authority. It’s almost an irresistible political story, doubly so in a campaign of this length. However, it’s rarely as important as the actual issues in front of everyday people. This week, it’s what needs to be front of mind for anyone with a stake in this election. Are we going to let this election get hijacked by tactical smoke and mirrors or will we stand up as voters and let the country know we’re smarter than our tails?

As another famous political cliche goes, “Only time will tell”. We should remember that the only poll that matters is on October 19.

Selected Headlines

Here are the main setup stories from Canadian Press on the Munk Debate tonight:

A few articles of note ahead of the The Munk Debate on Canada’s Foreign Policy,


Join MediaStyle and National Newswatch for a live election panel ahead of tonight’s debate.

Watch the debate with us. Come to the third floor of 131 Bank St. in Ottawa for light refreshments and a panel discussion. Doors open at 5:30. Panel starts at 6:00.


Top Column Today

Tim Harper is a blunt man. It’s why I love him. Here he suggestsMulcair and NDP need a change in strategy. I don’t agree with all of his analysis, but he sums up very well by claiming “[the NDP] have probably never been better organized on the ground. At this point in the 2011 campaign, the Orange Wave had yet to be detected. Three weeks is lots of time to get back in the game. But it will likely take a change of tone.” He’s not wrong there.

A full collection of election opinions worth reading can be found on National Newswatch.

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