Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Is Probit Calling Every Voter in BC? And Who Is Their Mystery Client If Not Any BC Political Party?

National polling firm attempting to call every voter in BC – but for who?  All major parties say “not us”! 

Probit, a division of Ekos, firm wants to probe your political leanings in every BC riding, but it won't say who it works for.  Concerned Citizens for BC right-wing pro-BC Liberal advocacy group with $1 million campaign won't respond.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday January 29, 2013
By Bill Tieleman
"Polls? Nah... they're for strippers and cross country skiers."
A national research firm is attempting to call every single one of British Columbia's estimated 3.27 million eligible voters with election polling and voter identification questions, 24 Hours and The Tyee have learned.
But who is paying for what is sometimes controversially referred to as "robocalling" and why? All four major B.C. political parties say it's not them and they don't know.
The Tyee obtained all the questions conducted by Probit, owned by public opinion polling firm Ekos, in the five-minute call, which could cost up to nearly $500,000.
Probit head Elliott Gauthier confirmed Monday that: "We have been hired to conduct an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) survey. The questionnaire is for all eligible voters in British Columbia."
Gauthier says another research firm hired Probit, but their name is "confidential."  
However, B.C. Liberal, New Democrat, Green and Conservative Party representatives all said they weren't conducting the calls, as did the B.C. Federation of Labour.
The pro-Liberal group Concerned Citizens for BC, which 24 Hours Vancouver newspaper and The Tyee exclusively revealed has a $1-million advertising campaign budget and is running anti-NDP radio ads currently, didn't respond to email inquiries by deadline.
What they want to know
Bryan Bedera of GrassRoots 2.0 -- a Reno, Nevada calling firm, estimated the Probit calls would cost about 15 cents each.
That would price the calls at up to $491,000, but Bedera notes a volume discount might bring the price down to as low as 10 cents a call or $327,000. And since not every voter has their own phone, the potential total calls and the price is more likely half that.
Steve Griffiths of Ifbyphone, a Chicago-based telemarketing firm which does call in Canada, said Monday its rates usually average five cents per minute but with a high volume of calls the price would come down to 3.5 cents a minute, or around 20 cents a call with the length of the Probit script.
I received automated Probit telephone calls twice last week, on Thursday and Sunday evening at my home in the Vancouver-Point Grey riding, recording one call and taking notes for the second identical survey.
The questions seem to combine polling and voter identification, where the party commissioning the Interactive Voice Response [or Recognition] survey is provided with results on the party preferences of the person who answers, reaction to issues raised, approval rating of party leaders and demographic information.
The cheaper IVR automated campaigning is a means by which a party can reach far more people than with a traditional live phone call, making it a cost-effective method of determining where your candidate stands with voters and which ones to concentrate efforts on, i.e. the undecided or soft support voters who might be convinced to back your candidate with the right argument.
IVR is also used for Get Out The Vote efforts on election day, candidate endorsements, advance voting reminders or any other messaging a party may wish to send to voters.
The Probit poll was just five minutes long but packed in key questions, including these:
"Would you say the provincial government is on the right track or the wrong track?"
This is a classic question almost always asked in party polling -- a general indication of political environment that sometimes is at odds with party preference numbers but usually shows the way the wind is blowing.
"If a B.C. provincial election were held tomorrow, which one of the following would you vote for here in Vancouver-Point Grey: Christy Clark, the BC Liberals' candidate; David Eby, the BC NDP candidate, Francoise Raunet, the BC Greens candidate, the BC Conservatives' candidate [not yet nominated], an independent candidate or are you undecided?"
If undecided, the poll asks: "Which party's candidate are you leaning towards supporting?" with the same choices.
This again is classic, a way to attempt to get a "forced choice" answer out of those who don't want to give their party preference.
The poll then asks if "you approve or disapprove of" Premier Christy Clark's and NDP opposition leader Adrian Dix's performance or have no opinion.
The poll also asks who you voted for in the May 2009 provincial election, followed by demographic questions on gender, age, education level, household annual income, ethnic background, what kind of phone service you use and your postal code.
The past election voting allows the pollster and/or party to track voter retention --- how many previous supporters are still on board, while demographics help a pollster ensure a balanced sample.
Probit also asks if you wish to join its research panel for future surveys "on a variety of topics".
Probing Probit
Probit does not mention voter identification on its website as one of its services but it does state that it is suited to "market research" among other purposes.
"Probit is EKOS' new Internet-telephone survey tool for answering serious research questions. It is the most rigorously constructed hybrid survey tool in Canada. Probit is perfectly suited to polling, communications, evaluation, market research or any project that requires valid, representative sampling."
The BC Liberals polled heavily in Vancouver-Point Grey during the lead up to the May 2011 byelection that Clark narrowly won by 564 votes over Eby -- and at that time I also revealed details of the polling.
Regardless of whether we ever find out all the details of the Probit polling or who is behind it, what is clear is that the battle for B.C. will be both fierce and expensive.



Anonymous said...

Well, I am sticking with Dix. I don't care who calls me.

I am truly weary of, the BC Liberals underhanded tactics. I have been since, Campbell's reign of terror. Most of the Liberal Ministers of Campbell's, are still with us today.

Thank Heaven, Dix has no use for attack ads. If that is the only way the Liberals can win? No thank you. I hate attack ads, they are on the level of a preteen.

Dix is respectful, even when he does speak of the BC Liberals and Chrisy. Adrian isn't a tyrant. I do appreciate him for that. I appreciate Adrian, for his common sense, that makes good sense.

Calivancouver said...

Of the all the things you might get worked up about, it's a voter ID campaign?

DPL said...

Somebody phoned our place today and was asking questions. First one was "are you between 19 and 35". When I said nobody here in that age group so we both agreed it was time to say goodby.

Anonymous said...

Since according to Bill, 24 Hours received the whole line of questions asked, let's see what they were.

Why would Bill not post the entire quetionnaire here on his blog?

Something to hide maybe or being "selective"?

persey said...

Why would any thinking person even respond to this type of call?

Obviously, they know your phone number, which is a really good link to getting to know YOU.

Last time I looked we still had a secret ballot in this country. None of their business how I lean politically.

I am surprised there are enough Canadians and British Columbians dumb enough to give personal info to a stranger over the phone, to keep these companies in business.

Ron S. said...

If you are willing to listen to these pollsters then mislead them. Give them BS and let them think they are leading. Jerks!

Anonymous said...

Though I would never admit to this myself, I personally know a good number of people who get a kick out of misinforming these pollsters with incorrect, incongruent or disingenuous answers (which is why I assign polls the veracity they deserve.) Isn't that awful?

Fifteen cents per call, eh? Maybe get them to call back...one or twice.

I would never do this myself but I do know some people who respond to unwanted telephone solicitations by asking the caller to hold the line, then leave the receiver dangling on the kitchen wall (dating my cohort) and return to the hockey game. I tried this once (well, at least once): after about twenty minutes I checked the phone on my way to the fridge and was surprised to find the solicitor still holding the line! Then I realized some poor schmuck in an offshore call centre was probably taking a well deserved nap while the master assumed productive work was being done on the open line. I felt a little bad about stringing this guy along...bit only a little bit.

With jerks like me out there, must be difficult to assure veracity.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I've never found it necessary to respond to an unsolicitated call honestly.
My apologies is that screws up your poll (=/- 3.5% sometimes)

Anonymous said...

Concerned Citizens??? I thought CC 4 BC was an acronym for Christy Clark for British Columbia.

Nobody pays attention to the polls, right Christy?

And nobody reads Vaughn Palmer anymore, right Christy?

And The Enquirer is a better new source than most of the BC blogging community, right Christy?


Go fart in a bottle Christy! You're done - done - done -done.

Anonymous said...

I ask them if they like sex and travel?


Anonymous said...

Is Harper advising the Liberals on how well ROBO CALLS worked for them.? The corruption in the free enterprise governments is out of control. Everyone is filling their pockets with taxpayers dollars. From municipal to Harpers feds. Why would anyone sell affordable public assets to the sleazy free enterprise system? Who is making money under the table?

Anonymous said...

Anon Jan 31 3:01:

Stupid question regarding the robo calls.

Every party buys poling, even the NDP. Bill here knows the power of polling the voters.

The unions and their members were lining their pockets when the NDP was in power.

The NDP wil be favouring its friends when they become government.

Ron S. said...

Anon Jan 31 3:01:

You wouldn't be a LIbERal shill would you? I think you are.

Anonymous said...

"The NDP wil be favouring its friends when they become government."
What proof do you have that the NDP were worse that the Lieberals?
Answer, none.
Do you shill for NW as well?

Will has 2 l's. Back to corruption school for you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I do not shill for NW. Sorry to disappoint you.

Those "endorsements" given to Adrian Dix were not given because the people and labour endorsing him likes how he parts his hair.

"Accounts Receivable" back then will quickly become "Accounts Payable" shortly.

I appreciate your advanced knowledge of English spelling.

You might gain from knowing more about how the political system works when it comes to supporting potential leaders.

The NDP is no different.

Be around when the political appointments are made.

Starts in June.

Anonymous said...

Doubtful that the New Democrats could surpass what the Lieberal Party has done in 11 years.
Time will tell, but I doubt they could. Not many crown corporations left to sell out.

Someone told me recently that the Lieberals sold the Fast Ferries for a song to deliberately embarrass the NDP. 20 million I believe? The corp. that bought them, flipped them for 200 million. Corruption at its best. But that's just a rumour.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit. The NDP tried and failed to sell the FastCats. They then went to auction twice,

The international market simply wasn't there to buy $150 million dollar ferries of a design that would have needed expensive reconfiguration to fit docks of a different design than what's used by BC Ferries.

Has nothing to do with corruption. If you bought Canucks tickets for $150 from Bill and managed to sell them for $400 to Bruce is that corruption?

Could Bill accuse you of flipping the tickets even though he got is $150.00??

Get real.

Anonymous said...

Just lie your face off when answering a poll. I got this call yesterday, but it was from Unknown.
I said I would vote Liberal first and my second choice would be NDP. Try square that circle!

I have left telemarketers on hold for long periods of time as well, but I put music on for them to pass the time. I make them listen to rock, so I'm not all mean.

Anonymous said...

To: Anon 8:02:00 PM Our Liberal Shill seems angry! First calling BS, then trying to justify the whole sordid thing.
Buddy, your credibility just sank to the bottom of the ocean, along with the rest of the Lib liars.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 10:48:

Buddy, who is justifying anything related to the Liberals?

Not a Liberal Shill, not even close.

As far as the Fastcats go, do your own homework. The NDP even admitted they failed big time and couldn't sell the damb things. Tlak to Joy McPhail. I saw their soppy news conference about it. Dan Miller was furious when he found out the real cost. Was on TV.

Being a Glen Clark NDP shill is out of fashion and has been since 1998.

Welcome to the bottom of the ocean.

Getoutta my cave. This is my cave. Yours is over there. Wiggle your tail fast to swim over there.

Anonymous said...

Liberal Government roadside check blunders costs B.C. taxpayers Millions according to the Province.

Anonymous said...

It's rather sad that Liberal Hacks keep bringing up such old news.
Watch folks like G.G., L.Y. , A.G.T., and our B.T. (among many others) bring up corruption that would embarrass even Richard M. Nixon. Maybe even M.S. will surprise us!

Anonymous said...

I thought cc 4 bc mewnt corrupt ceo for bc.

Anonymous said...

Will the federal conservatives be involved with ROBO CALLS in BCX or will Sheppard take care of it.
In Canada we now have unprecedented corruption in the right wing parties. How many of these politicians are on the take?

Anonymous said...

I just hung up on Probit Inc's IVR system survey. IF they want to know my opinion they should put a person on the phone and give them a job in my opinion.

Then I went here: http://97.ca/probit/cwx.cgi?EN:DNCL and entered my number, which states a 24 hour turn around to remove me.

Anonymous said...

We get two to four calls a day from Probit. No one is ever on the other end just silence. So it is my opinion they are raking in thousands of dollars just robo calling the same phone numbers over and over and over without ever giving the survey. How is anyone to know how many of these calls are legitimate? They're a bunch of scammers!