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Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable. (Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)
Editorial cartoon by Brian Gable. (Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail)

Robert Silver

Elizabeth May's non-game changer Add to ...

I will leave it to others to debate the merits of Elizabeth May being included in the debates while the Pirate Party is excluded.

There seems to be an assumption that from the Green Party's perspective, being in the debate in 2008 was a game changer. While I understand why the Greens want to be in the debates (heck, I`d love to get a crack at them) the polls from 2008 tell a different story.

In the last election, the English language debate took place Oct. 2. By my count, there were 36 public polls that were in the field prior to Oct. 2. In those polls, the Greens averaged 9.88 per cent support. There were then 18 polls done after the debates. In those polls, the Greens averaged 9.58 per cent. Statistically, the debate had absolutely zero affect on the Greens' standing. Not surprisingly, the polls as a whole overstated Green support on election day when they got 6.8 per cent.

While it is impossible to know whether the Green vote would have been even lower on election day if Ms. May had been excluded from the debate, the notion that the debate gave her a giant boost is not backed up in the polls. I have my own theories why the benefits that Ms. May should have received by her exposure in the debates was not realized but I will leave that to another day.

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