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Pollster: Race not a factor in THA election
The only pollster to accurately predict the outcome of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election has said that race was not a factor, and former deputy chief secretary Hilton Sandy actually lost ground following his Calcutta ship comments. Nigel Henry, a Yale-graduated numerical analyst, said in an interview: “Nobody ever mentioned race,” when asked if it was one of the issues raised by Tobagonian voters when he was conducting his eight-question poll. Two of his questions sought to find out what was influencing the voter’s decision.
“Economic development, internal self-government and poverty alleviation,” were among the issues voters raised, he said. “To me, voters who said we really care about jobs, really cared about jobs.” He said that when voters told him they really cared about “corruption on public projects,” he believed them.
The poll was conducted over a period that spanned before and after the now infamous “Calcutta” remarks by Sandy. “It really did not hinder the PNM in any way...I would say Mr Sandy, himself, showed slightly lower numbers, less than ten per cent difference than he would have got on the poll,” Henry said. “We polled his district within two days after the (Calcutta) news would have broken. Other than that, none of the other candidates were affected. He (Sandy) may have lost some support, very slightly.”
Henry said, support for the People’s National Movement (PNM) was “noticeably higher in the poll than on the actual (election) day.” When asked if the comments had any impact at all, he said the PNM may have had a “very temporary rise in support, ” but this would have petered out by the time of the election. The candidates “came and got almost exactly” what the poll predicted, Henry said.
Henry was the only of three published pollsters to accurately predict the outcome of the THA election. His prediction was published in the T&T Guardian on January 14. Henry is the lead analyst at Solution by Simulation, which provided analytics for US political candidates, including Obama for America in 2008.
Henry plans to do more polls in T&T. Answering why he thought more polls are not done in T&T as in the US where there seems to be a poll for everything, he said: “Two things. One, you have to follow the money. The US has been empirically based for a very long time, for decades, back to almost its founding. The US therefore has a large head-start on everybody else.” He said the second factor is the amount of money the US government spends on acquiring statistics.
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