Propaganda in Action: Ontario’s election “priorities”?

A new poll just released by Environics, shows something more revealing than it bargained for. What it shows can be considered even more proof that the media does not have a left-wing bias.

The Environics poll asked Ontarians what they thought the most important factor/issue determing their vote in the upcoming election would be.

The results are interesting.


Now, some of these factors can be broadly categorized into socialist/social democratic issues (namely heath care and social programs/poverty/minimum wage) and conservative/capitalist issues (namely the economy and taxes). Recompiling the list with these ideological concerns grouped together results in this list of what Ontarians care about:


So what do Ontarians care about? Notice that by far, the answer, according to Environics, is overwhelmingly coherently socialist/social democratic issues, followed by two ideologically neutral issues, then followed by coherently conservative or capitalist issues.

But now let’s take a look at what the mainstream media coverage of the Ontario election considers to be the important issues.

We can see that the media has little interest in the issues that Ontarians actually cares about:


I compiled the data for this table using targeted advanced Google news searches and can be verified, if you’re interested, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

We progressives can easily convince ourselves that society is hopelessly biased and political culture hopelessly corrupted by the mainstream media, but I see these results as reason for optimism rather than forlornness.

Voters aren’t clamoring for tax cuts despite the hugely disproportional media coverage of the issue and voters continue to support socialist issues as their #1 election issues. If that, in and of itself, does not give progressives great faith in the prospects for the kind of changes we seek, then I don’t know what will.


See also:

The ‘Propaganda in Action’ series (the rest of the series)

The NDP are cowards, what should true progressives do?

What do politics and monkey shit fights have in common?

The propaganda & hypocrisy of 9/11 anniversary media coverage

The Paulitics coverage of the Ontario 2007 election


11 Responses to “Propaganda in Action: Ontario’s election “priorities”?”

  1. 1 Thor 3 October, 2007 at 1:36 am

    Excellent post Paul! and nicely laid out. The MSM never seems to get the point and always covers what it seems to think we will buy, and not what the real issues are.

    The No-side against MMP in the media have been all over the local vs list candidate thing, but it has been known, and it shows again here, that most people vote for the party and not the local candidate (local candidate 2%).

    Answers on polls that garner less than 4% are usually lumped in with Other – unless it is a separate question. So, if “funding religious schools” and “local candidate” were not separate questions, they would have ended up lumped in with Other, and not even shown up in the results.

    Maybe if we get MMP in Ontario, it will not only change how politicians work/play together, but also what the media reports.

  2. 3 CMD 3 October, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    I agree that the mainstream media has a view that differs significantly compared to the voters. However, I question the validity of the numbers that you present. How did you evaluate the distribution that appears on your “Media’s top Ontario election issues” graph? Have you considered that as we approach the election, the media coverage may be shifting to issues that the voters also consider important, or perhaps it is shifting the other way? Basically, what I’m saying is that to have a graph that you can, statistically, compare with the Environics graph, you’d need to look at the same time frame. The post was interesting, nonetheless.

  3. 4 Erik Abbink 5 October, 2007 at 10:32 am

    Excellent post! Of course, we’ve all got socialist concerns; with the media having far more attention for boosting sales, directly (adverts, which takes up a significant amount of their broadcast time) or indirectly (obsession with “economy”) we would almost forget we have “human” traits too.

    Just wondered why in the last graph put Conservatives/Capitalism as a description, but not Socialist Concerns/”Progressives” ? As a progressive (opposed to “progressive lite”), I believe that social justice is one of our cornerstones. Just a thought.

  4. 5 paulitics 5 October, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Erik – You raise a good point. There isn’t really any serious or important reason why I didn’t call the category “Socialist Concerns/’progressive'”. In part, I suppose you can attribute it to the fact that I didn’t want the graph to be too big. But you can also attribute it to the fact that I believe true ‘progressive’ concerns to be synonymous with socialist concerns. So I consider the two terms redundant.

    As an aside though, I generally hate using the label ‘progressive’ on anything (including myself) not because I don’t see myself as ‘progressive’ (in fact, quite the contrary), but rather because a whole slew of petty capitalist liberals like Tribe and Cherniak also attribute the ‘progressive’ label to themselves. Thus, whenever I use ‘progressive’, I tend to use the prefix ‘true-‘ (as in “true-progressive”) which in turn results in a huge debate with liberals thinking that just because they don’t want to lock up gay people, that somehow makes them ‘progressive’.

  5. 6 Erik Abbink 5 October, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks for explaining; it’s the answer I was hoping. Good for you for using the term true-progressive to distance yourself from the self-proclaimed “progressives” mentioned; why will they not see that liberalism (neo- or otherwise) is not the solution for all problems? In fact, liberalism is CAUSING many of the social problems we have today.

  6. 8 RPJ 6 October, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    The saddest thing that I see on the first graph is that “Don’t Know” is actually leading all the other issues. And there-in folks lies the problem.

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