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CBC's Vote Compass is miscalibrated. Have you noticed? babblers have.

| March 28, 2011

This weekend CBC launched its Vote Compass for the 2011 Federal Election, and as of this morning they tout that more than 300,000 people have taken the test. The intention of the online tool is to engage people in the political process, letting them see which political party most reflects their views. As the site explains, it "provides users with a sense of how their opinions square with the platforms of the political parties running in the 2011 Canadian federal election. Based on their responses to a series of statements, Vote Compass calculates a user's position in the political landscape and shows them the respective positions of the various parties running in the election."

However, the results users are getting from the tool are creating quite a stir online, as many find the answers don't jive with their political leanings. babble, rabble's discussion board, has taken the tool to task, as posters raise questions about the methodology used to calculate users' political leanings, as "Michelle" comments:

"Actually, the problem is that the questions are very poorly designed.  Some of them break the most basic rules of questionnaire-making, and put this survey into the realm of push-polling. I've been fuming about this questionnaire since completing it last night.  I actually got NDP as my result, but the Green Party was almost even, and a bunch of my NDP-supporting Facebook friends were pegged as "Green Party".

They have compound questions in the survey -- that is, questions with more than one question in them, but that you have to answer with only one answer.

Example: "The government should fund daycare instead of giving money directly to parents."  That's actually two statements, not one, and should be separate questions: "The government should fund daycare" and "The government should not give money directly to parents."  Because if you believe the government should fund daycare AND give money directly to parents, there is no way to answer this question. And if you believe the government should not fund daycare AND they should not give money directly to parents, there is also no way to answer it.

And that makes it a trick question.  Because anyone who votes NDP will answer this question "Strongly agree" or "Somewhat agree" since we all agree that the Conservatives giving a hundred bucks a month to parents was no fit replacement for universal daycare.  But they have placed the NDP into the "neither agree nor disagree" choice because the NDP supports both universal daycare AND giving money directly to parents. If forced to make a choice, you can bet that the NDP would support universal daycare over $100 per month payments to parents, which they roundly criticized at the time. This question makes it seem like the NDP has no position on daycare at all.

It's a scam question. Only the Green Party position (fund daycare INSTEAD of payments to parents) or the Conservative Party position (Give payments directly to parents instead of funding daycare) can be reflected in the answer to the question. The likert scale they use doesn't adequately represent the position of the NDP or Bloc on this question."

Poster "Vansterdam Kid" questions the purpose of the survey altogether:

"...why do they even ask the party and leadership questions, when the point of the test is to determine, based on your answers to the 'issues' questions, who you should vote for? As a joke, I re-calibrated my answers and pretended to be in favour of Quebec getting more power, essentially making it look like I was a separatist, and it still told me I should vote Green.

Out of curiosity I clicked on the party positioning links to see where they assigned each party and I have a few qualms about it.

With regards to the Conservatives they were positioned as somewhat agreeing with increasing Canada's military presence in the Arctic, and only wanting to spend somewhat more on the Military. Both of these positions seem somewhat untrue as they strongly agree with both.

As for their position on government spending, apparently they neither agree nor disagree with the assertion that "when there is an economic problem more government spending usually makes it worse." That's news to me! They only somewhat agree with the assertion that, "The federal budget deficit should be reduced even if it leads to less public services." Again an interesting though debatable claim. As for their position on whether or not "It should be easier to qualify for Employment Insurance" they neither agree nor disagree. I'd say they at least somewhat disagree!"

What do you think? Is Vote Compass miscalibrated? Does it matter?

Join the discussion on babble, or comment below. We want to know what you think!



The bias is actually obvious as you see the questions -- compound, skewed wording, etc. -- but one always hopes for best until you see the result and even how they place the squibs on the grid.

Totally misses there right and left-wing Liberals.

Totally misses there are Greens who may be religious, atheists, capitalists or pro-prison.

Totally misses breadth of NDP support.

Isolates Cons as though they are only ones who have those views, and hence only choice.

If throw dart and miss Liberal logo, still a Liberal.  But if throw dart and miss NDP usually a Liberal.

Shame on CBC, especially when its "Analytics Director" a hardcore Liberal who worked on Ignatieff leadership campaign.


Who pitched this to CBC?  How much did it cost? Wouldn't it have been better for a broadcaster to put that money into research so its reporters can ask intelligent questions instead of treating this like a game, a horse race?  The country's future hinges on May 2nd and CBC treats it less professionally than hockey play-offs!



So, if moderate Conservatives are told to vote Liberal and New Democrats are told to vote Green, cui bono?

The Liberals.

So, a bogus CBC election "tool" that benefits the Liberal Party of Canada.

I'm shocked, shocked . . .

There is a Libertarian Left. Its called anarco-syndicalism. It is opposed to the state as the state, being top-down, is inevitably corrupt. It is a bottom-up structure where workers actually have control of production. Society is organised into millions of small communities that are engaged rather than disengaged from the decision making.

It's because the Greens aren't anti-capitalists. They are like Liberals, red tories or even small c conservatives with an environmental base. All their economics and policy is tied to the environment. So they should really be farther right on the economic axis. To have them left of the NDP would make them Communists. This they are not.

I too have somehow become a Green Party supporter. Sure doesn't mean I am going to vote Green. I am taking the whole thing with a grain of salt. If it gets people engaged with the election that's a good thing. It's a conversation starter at least and gets people thinking about their views. 


There are indeed issues with the compass tool, but you have to look at how they compute your position from your answers to find the reasons. The tool computes an average of your answers and of the parties positions on the horizontal axis (left-right) and on the vertical axis (lib-con). This means that a party that is totally to the left on one question, while you think right, and who is totally on the right on the next question, while you think left, will be positioned in the center, just next to you, even though your opinion is totally opposite.

The tool certainly sparks discussions and interrest, which was apparently the goal, but I am afraid of the consequences of these approximations. I have put together a spreadsheet that uses their questions and their formulas to reproduce their results, and then generates what I consider better results using a more appropriate formula, and it is, I think, possible to get a better match to where people feel their vote will go.

I'll work on making the spreadsheet distributable and post it...

How much of a fraud is this compass?

I took the time to read the official NDP platform and all my answers reflected that platform and I STILL score as a Green.

I'm going to join Malcolm's petition.

This pseudo scientific farce should be shut down immediately.

BTW...Libertarianism IS right wing.

Cases in point--Rand Paul and Maxime Bernier....Glen Beck identifies himself as a Libertarian too.

Although I am a hard core NDP supporter, I was told that I should vote Green!!!  I would very much like to know how this conclusion was arrived at, based on what criteria.  I think the CBC should cancel this exercise.  It is most misleading and can affect the final outcome of this election.  

"right-wing libertarians" ??? now, that would be a weird animal indeed!


Like many other babble contributors, I've given the Green Party serious consideration.  I reject them outright because they are right-wing libertarians masquerading as progressives.

Be that as it may, the issue at hand is the stunning inaccuracy and misleading nature of the Vote Compass, not which party we should or should not consider.

According to this Vote Compass FAQ page, all the best scientific methodology, combined with the accumulated wisdom of really smart people from Canada's leading universities and the folks who put together the original application via the University of Amsterdam, the Vote Compass should be accurate and unbiased.

It appears to be neither.

Hey you folks who think you've been mis-identified as sympatico with Green Party, here's a suggestion: read the Green Party platform at greenparty.ca...it's impressive. Maybe (like Brazil and Germany most recently have done) it's time to give them serious consideration.

I've started a Facebook Group here asking CBC to take it down.

I hope the CBC gets charged with violating the Canada Elections Act by using a phony questionnaire to promote certain political parties over others. 

First time in my life I've been told I'm a Green.

I thought CBC was doing us a favour. There is something fishy going on here.

being a socilaist...I scored in the outlier position far up in the top left corner of their little diagram...and they advised me to vote NDP...now if only there was way of moving the party to me!

This quiz is completely bogus. I took the quiz twice, answering from a BQ/Duceppe perspective both times, and it scored me as a Green supporter. Are the Greens in favour of Quebec separation? That's news to me.

More helpful that dubious 'tools' would be direct links from the CBC site to all the party platforms.


I took the test 3 times and scored the Green Party twice.

I can assure you that I am not a GP supporter and I never have been.

It's very suspicious that here on babble most people have been scoring the same results from this ' compass'

I'm not sure what the agenda is.

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