CBC’s online ‘Vote Compass’ under attack for perceived Liberal party bias

Marc Weisblott
National Affairs Reporter
Daily Brew

The left and right sides of the political spectrum didn't seem likely to agree on much during the 2011 federal election campaign, but they're united on one front: suspicion there's an agenda behind an online voter quiz offered by the CBC.

Sun Media has played up the conclusion from Queen's University political science professor Kathy Brock the "Vote Compass" survey, which asks for reactions to 30 policy issues to determine the respondent's position on the political landscape, favours the Liberals.

The researcher who helped develop the tool, Cliff van der Linden, countered that the questions were designed to represent the entire political spectrum. So, it appears the federal Liberal party is presented as the logical middle ground.

Éric Grenier, who runs the political analytics website ThreeHundredEight.com, concurred via his Twitter account.

"If you choose 'neither agree nor disagree' for every question, that puts you in the centre," concluded Grenier. "If you choose 'strongly agree' on all questions, that means you are sometimes supporting the left and sometimes supporting the right, which again puts you in the centre.

"If you choose 'strongly disagree," the same thing happens. The compass should have tried to protect against that, but it isn't because it's rigged or defaults to the Liberals."

Rabble, the 10-year-old website focused on progressive causes, has nonetheless voiced similar suspicions about Vote Compass as Sun Media's conservative tabloids.

The initial observation posted to the Rabble forums concluded the questions were poorly designed, partly due to compound questions that only allowed for one answer, which has resulted in NDP supporters being pegged in synch with the Greens.

"The government should fund daycare instead of giving money to parents," which is presented as a statement whose response contributes to a final result, fails to recognize the NDP and Bloc view that the government should be doing both.

Despite the backlash, the CBC has stuck to its guns with the project, and boasted on Wednesday morning that more than 676,000 people have participated in the survey over the past four days.

Critics are being pointed to a FAQ page that explains how the survey isn't predicting how people vote, or telling them how to vote, along with other reassurances the tool is unbiased.

But a video posted to YouTube, captioned with a statement in opposition to public funding of the "state broadcaster," showed how any consistent answer on all 30 questions has resulted in a conclusion of Liberal.

Watch the experiment that concluded Vote Compass is biased toward the Liberals below: