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Chrystia Freeland speaks before voting took place on Sept. 15, 2013.
Chrystia Freeland speaks before voting took place on Sept. 15, 2013.
(Michelle Siu for The Globe and Mail)

Liberals poised for Manitoba upset, but are the polls right?

Polls for the four upcoming federal by-elections on Nov. 25 suggest that the Liberals will hold on to their two seats and pick up a third from the Conservatives in formerly hostile territory. But just how reliable are these by-election polls?

The only firm brave enough to venture into the world of by-election polling in the last few years has been Forum Research, and this campaign is no different. The firm has been active in all federal and most major provincial by-elections over the last two years, and has a generally decent record. But in the most recent set of five Ontario by-elections this past summer, the winner was accurately identified in only three of the ridings, and in one of those the expected vote tallies were off the mark by a significant degree.