[[{“fid”:”3130″,”view_mode”:”media_original”,”fields”:{“format”:”media_original”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:””,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:””},”type”:”media”,”attributes”:{“style”:”height: 234px; width: 190px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;”,”class”:”media-element file-media-original”},”link_text”:null}]]By Sylvia Stead, public editor for the Globe and Mail

Writing about opinion polls is kind of like sports coverage. You need to get the score right and you need to understand if a team is on the rise or stuck in a rut, but, whether that day or the next, a writer needs to explain what it really means.

This year, with a federal election looming, the coverage of opinion polls will be important.

One reader complained this week about confusing coverage. “So, according to Lysiane Gagnon the latest national polls show the Conservatives surging ahead of the Liberals (Even Harper wants Quebec, January 21, 2015),” he wrote. “However, Adam Radwanski informs us that the Liberals are running neck and neck with the Conservatives (Centre-left battle rages on unfamiliar turf, January 21, 2015). What is a body to believe?”

Adam Radwanski says that “matters have been complicated by opinion polls consistently showing the Liberals neck-and-neck with the Conservatives and the NDP back in third.”

What he is discussing is a range of polls and the overall view.

Meanwhile, Lysiane Gagnon is pointing to “the latest national polls showing the Conservatives surging ahead of the Liberals. But then, the election is eight months away, and there is ample time for the Conservatives and the Liberals – by far the two leading parties nationally – to trade numbers.”

To continue reading this column, please go to theglobeandmail.com where it was originally published.