It looks like Bernier won't qualify for the debate (and we likely avoided a mini controversy)

The Leaders' debates commission changed the rules to be invited to the debate this year compared to 2019. A party can qualify 3 ways. Either it elected one MP (under the actual color of the party -- no crossing the floor switcheroo), or the party got at least 4% of the vote last time, or the party is polling at 4% or higher 5 days after the beginning of the election.

For Bernier and the PPC, the last criterion is the only way to be invited. I looked at the detailed rules about which polls would be considered and how they'd average them. Based on everything I read, I don't believe Bernier will qualify. It'll likely be close but not that close. and that might be a good thing because there could easily have been a controversy (more on that later).

The rule is that only polls from reputable firms (it's not the exact wording but that's the spirit) will be included. Those polls have to have been conducted and published between 9 days before the election started and 5 days after. That means polls done and published between August 6th and 20th. Those polls also need to explicitly include the PPC as an option (can't simply be 'other') and need to have at least 1,000 respondents (that's where it could have become tricky). The commission will take a simple average (no weights or anything). Pretty straightforward, right? Well sure, except I'm not sure how the commission will deal with trackers like Mainstreet or Ekos where they do a 3-days rolling average (that means they published one fully new poll based on a fully new sample every 3 days). Do they include one of those polls every 3 days? To qualify, a party has to be at 4% in average, unrounded.

So, which polls are included and where does the PPC stand? Well here are the polls published during that period as of 11:30pm Pacific time on the 18th.


I have been informed by the commission that I missed a detail: only the latest poll from a firm will be included. So that really solves the whole 3-days tracker thingy. I don't want to change the entire post now, but here is the updated calculations, including the latest number from Mainstreet. As you can see, the PPC is even further away from qualifying right now and it would need to increase a lot in the Ekos/Mainstreet that will be published on Friday. And even there, the Ekos would need to have a 1,000 respondents, which hasn't been the case until now.

[Back to original post]

Please notice that I'm including all the daily trackers from Mainstreet and Ekos. This is wrong since those polls share some of the same samples. But as I've said, I'm not sure which days should be selected (like do I take the Mainstreet from Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday?). Also, Wikipedia didn't list the PPC score of some of these polls (like Angus-Reid) because the info had to be found in a detailed pdf, so I added it.

The PPC is not at 4% but not far behind at 3.71. But here's the kicker: some of the best polls for the PPC might not count: the Ekos trackers. Why? Well they are just below 1,000 sample size!!

Imagine if, by the 20th, the difference between the PPC being at 4 or not is... including the Ekos trackers (one every 3 days) or not! I mean, I know rules are rules but wouldn't it raise some questions? Why were the Ekos polls just below 1,000? And given that methodology (IVR versus online) seems to be the main factor explaining a high or low PPC, should we really care that much about sample size? Shouldn't we care more about doing an average with an equal number of methodologies? Also, just to add some spiciness to is, the commission noted that the Conservatives complained about Ekos being biased against them. So is Ekos purposely using samples below 1,000 as to make sure they aren't the ones qualifying the PPC? Yes, conspiracy theory time! Follow me on Twitter to know what I think of 9/11! (It's a joke, please keep reading)

Okay, so let's try to forecast where we'll be by Friday, the 20th. Mainstreet and Ekos will have posted 2 more updates. Let's also assume no other firm will publish. It seems most of the major ones (Abacus, Ipsos, etc) have published recently and I can't imagine they'll want to pay for another poll by Friday. As for Nanos, their tracker is supposed to start this weekend (again, why? Is it to be sure not to be included in this average? Yes, more conspiracy theories!).

I'm going to assume the commission will want to use the most recent trackers (so the numbers published on Friday). Then, since it's a 3-day rolling average, they would have another poll from each firm, the ones published yesterday (field dates of 14 to 16 while the numbers of Friday will have a field dates of 17 to 19). That means that we need to remove the Mainstreet/Ekos polls with the last dates of 15th and 17th in the table. Then we obviously can't do the full calculations as we don't know which score the PPC will get on the Ekos/Mainstreet published on Friday. Let's assume it'll be the same numbers (despite what appears to be a downwards trend). So I'm adding two polls with the PPC at 4.2% and 5%. That gives us an average of 3.53%.

Now what happens if I exclude the Ekos numbers, as per the rules? The PPC average drops to 3.36%.

So, right now, the fact that Ekos has sample sizes below 1,000 is NOT causing any problem. To qualify, the PPC needs two more polls with the party at 9% (assuming no other polls are published). I can't see it happening.

Bottom line: Bernier doesn't look like he'll go to the debate. But he'll likely miss the mark by very little. And the PPC would be even closer to the 4% mark if we only used polls conducted after the election started. It's mostly food for thoughts at this point though. The cold hard truth for Bernier is that he'll likely not be invited this year. Fair is fair and the bar wasn't set particularly high at 4%. Still, it does seem that online polls (Leger, Ipsos) will have cost Bernier his spot. If we have had more IVR polls, I believe Bernier would have qualified (also, the fact that Mainstreet didn't include an explicit option for the PPC in its poll on the 11th could also prove costly!). For a polling nerd like myself (and you, let's face it, you wouldn't be on this blog otherwise), this is super interesting stuff.

I doubt the commission will change its rules but there is a case to be made that Bernier and his party are actually at 4%. But, does Bernier really want to go? He'll say yes but I kind of believe this is better for his brand not to be invited. He can play the victim and show how anti-system he is.