I don't like polls. Here in Toronto, the local paper is using the latest numbers to tell us how to vote:
In these dying days of the hotly contested Toronto mayoral race, Joe Pantalone has become an increasingly lonely guy.
He placed a distant third behind Rob Ford and George Smitherman in three new polls this week, many of his one-time campaign supporters are deserting him, calls for him to quit the race are increasing, and his campaign events are lacklustre.
In short, his campaign has run out of steam...
The polls show he has no momentum. After six months of non-stop campaigning, this decent man who truly loves Toronto has failed to budge the numbers at all.
But unlike Rocco Rossi, Sarah Thomson and Giorgio Mammoliti who saw the light and withdrew from the race, Pantalone keeps plugging away, insisting he's there until the bitter end because he is fighting the "good fight" on behalf of the progressive movement in Toronto.
Polls don't help us decide who to vote for. At least, they shouldn't. So how do polls help us exactly? In the case of Joe Pantalone, it's clear that they don't help at all.
I think it's time we banned the publication of poll numbers. After all, how can a race be over before it's finished? A campaign isn't like a marathon or a sprint. Stragglers can make up a lot of distance in a short space of time - just ask Fred Eisenburger.
Another thing I dislike is strategic voting. Here, again, the Star takes a stand: "Pantalone soldiers on." Continues the article.
It's a sad ending to a respected political career because Pantalone, once it was obvious that he wouldn't win, could have been a kingmaker.
Now he may be a spoiler.
Pollsters have found that much of Pantalone's support is soft. Some 63 per cent of Pantalone's supporters who indicated they might change their minds before voting day say they would switch to Smitherman.
And Smitherman needs a lot of Pantalone supporters to come his way if he is to defeat Ford, whose poll numbers may have peaked but remain strong.
Nudge nudge, hint hint...
Thanks, Toronto Star. If we stick with the race analogy, your article is akin to hauling your boy over the finish line. (Of course, if you did that in a real race you'd get disqualified.)
Scrap the campaign... What a noble idea.
Joe's not going to do that, of course. Pantalone has run a well-organized and honest campaign. Many Torontonians have already voted for the man and many more want to show their support on Monday. What does an abandoned campaign say to those supporters?
I am one of those supporters. Contributing to our democracy is important to me. I'm a landed immigrant so I don't get to vote, but unlike many people who can vote I take the time to get to know the candidates and their issues so that I can be informed when talking to people about the campaign.
Volunteering and being informed are the only tangible ways I have of contributing to Canada's democracy. What am I or anyone else supposed to make of this country if my efforts, and those of the hundreds of other volunteers and voters, is literally thrown away?
Our democracy should not be circumvented to keep the bad guys out. It should enable us to channel our support.
Star columnists, and all other media outlets, should stop their meddling. On Monday let the votes be cast and let the chips fall where they may.
And may the best candidate win.
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