Thursday, May 5, 2011

LRT, polling, and false majorities

Early this morning I fired off another letter to The Record editor. It was in response to this brief letter, which claimed that the Record's opinion poll's 38% in support of LRT was a clear majority decision against it.

Given recent events, my irony meter peaked, and I wrote the following:

When I saw the letter titled "A Majority Said No", I thought it would be about our recent election. Instead, it was a claim that the Record's poll on Rapid Transit should be interpreted as a rejection of LRT, because only 38% picked that option. And yet, more respondents picked the LRT option than any other single alternative.

It is very ironic that we have chosen a government with virtually the same level of support. Supporters of the Conservatives say this is a clear mandate, while opponents claim a majority rejected them.

In either case, the truth is somewhere in between. When presented with multiple options, people's opinions are divided. And when interpreting the results, people tend to see what they want to see.

I think we can draw one conclusion from this poll: the results are mixed enough to give our regional councilors the freedom to exercise their best judgement. It is, after all, what we elected them for: to make difficult decisions on complex issues in the best interest of our community, where a referendum would simply reveal a broad spectrum of opinion and disagreement.

I got a confirmation call from the Record, so it will be up soon-- and a rare bit of extra feedback that they think I make good points. But since I've received a few requests already, I've posted the original letter contents here. It's always interesting to see the editing, and summary title, the published version receives.

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