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Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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PP, PNM in dead heat
Guardian Media Ltd did an opinion poll on October 12 and 13 in the constituency of St Joseph using the in-person random sample intercept method. A total of 602 questionnaires were administered and the margin of error was calculated at + or — four per cent. The survey was conducted in 12 polling divisions:
• 1,030—Mt D’Or Government School, LP 22, Mt D’Or Road, Champs Fleurs
• 1,041—Mt Hope Secondary School, Maingot Street, Mt Hope
• 1,075—San Juan Boys’ RC School, Cemetery Street, San Juan
• 1,470—Aranguez Hindu School, Chootoo Street, Aranguez
• 1,485—Mt Lambert RC School, 8th Street, Mt Lambert
• 1,490—Mt Lambert RC School, 8th Street, Mt Lambert
• 1,496—Cipriani Labour College, Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, Valsayn
• 1,500—Bamboo Grove Presbyterian School, Bamboo Settlement No1, Uriah Butler Highway
• 1,507—Curepe Community Centre, Saldenah Terr, off Southern Main Rd, Curepe
• 1,510—St Joseph Govt Primary School, Cor Abercromby & Market St, St Joseph
• 1,515—St Joseph’s College, 1 Richmond Street, St Joseph
• 1,525—St Joseph Girls’ RC Primary School, Richmond Street, St Joseph
These polling divisions were chosen on the basis of seeking clusters of the most marginal outcomes from the 2010 general election results together with the offset of strong polling divisions for the PNM and the UNC using the same 2010 results. This methodology produced a geographical spread that was representative of the layout of the constituency and approximately 50 questionnaires were administered in each polling division.
It must be noted that there were variables to be considered in respect of the collection of the data over the period October 12-October 13. The variables were:
• There was a national debate among political parties on television on the evening of October 10 in which representatives of four parties participated. The performances of the various representatives may have influenced the responses.
• On October 12, the Prime Minister officially opened the Grand Bazaar interchange at the intersection of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway and the Uriah Butler Highway. This interchange lies at the south-western end of the St Joseph constituency and may have influenced some of the responses.
• There was only one known candidate up to the period of data collection and that was the PNM candidate.
• Trinidad is in the midst of a high level of campaigning for the local government elections that are to be held tomorrow.
The breakdown of the polling data gathered is as follows:
Male-57 per cent
Female-43 per cent
Afro—32.2 per cent
Indo-34.1 per cent
Mixed—32.2 per cent
Chinese—0.2 per cent
Syrian/Lebanese—0.8 per cent
Not stated—0.5 per cent
3. Age Group:
18-29—12.8 per cent
30-39—37.7 per cent
40-49—10.1 per cent
50-59—14.6 per cent
60-69—20.4 per cent
Over 70—4.3 per cent
4. Employment status:
Employed—27.9 per cent
Retired/pensioner—27.9 per cent
Unemployed—15.4 per cent
Self-employed—9.3 per cent
Professional—2.8 per cent
Housewife—10.1 per cent
Student—6.5 per cent
5. How would you rate the performance of Herbert Volney when he served as your MP?
Very good—0.3 per cent
Good—1.5 per cent
Fair—23.8 per cent
Poor—48.2 per cent
Very poor—24.1 per cent
Don’t know—1.3 per cent
Not sure—0.8 per cent
The performance of the former MP for St Joseph, Herbert Volney, was measured as a starting point. There was a very high level of dissatisfaction with his performance when the responses of “Poor” and “Very Poor” are combined (72.3 per cent). The only other statistically significant response to this question was a 23.8 per cent “Fair” rating. As a consequence, one can assume that the issue of representation will be a factor in the by-election.
6. Do you believe that he should have remained as your MP after he changed his political loyalty from UNC to ILP?
Yes—3.3 per cent
No—80.7 per cent
Don’t know—12.3 per cent
Not sure—3.7 per cent
There was a very high response level against the idea of Herbert Volney seeking to remain as the MP for St Joseph after resigning from the UNC with an 80.7 per cent rating. The “Don’t know/Not sure” category accounted for 16.0 per cent. In large measure, the decision to have a by-election in St Joseph would have been endorsed by this response factor.
7. Are you in favour of a right of recall for MPs who change their political loyalties after they are elected?
Yes—65.4 per cent
No—22.3 per cent
Don’t know—8.0 per cent
Not sure—4.3 per cent
Of those surveyed, 65.4 per cent favoured the right to recall MPs for changing their political loyalties after they had been elected, while 22.3 per cent were opposed The fact that almost two-thirds of the survey endorsed this philosophy would suggest that the link between party allegiance and election on a party ticket has a high correlation.
8. Would you support expanding the existing right of recall to include the measurement of performance for MPs?
Yes—99.3 per cent
No—0.5 per cent
Don’t know—0.2 per cent
This question sought to expand the right of recall to include measurement of performance of MPs beyond their party loyalties.
Almost all those polled (99.3 per cent) were in favour of such a reform being introduced.
9. How would you rate the performance of the People’s Partnership Government to date?
Very good—3.0 per cent
Good—23.3 per cent
Fair—27.2 per cent
Poor—36.9 per cent
Very Poor—9.1 per cent
Not sure—0.5 per cent
This question was designed to start a process of measurement of performance of the PP Government to date. It was apparent that more people felt its performance was “Poor/Very poor” (46.0 per cent) as opposed to those who felt that it was “Good/Very good” (26.3 per cent). The critical statistic, therefore, was the 27.2 per cent “Fair” rating that was earned which would represent a body of voters who could be swayed one way or another.
10. How would you rate the performance of the PNM as an opposition to date?
Very Good—5.6 per cent
Good—19.3 per cent
Fair—17.3 per cent
Poor—34.2 per cent
Very poor—23.4 per cent
Not sure—0.2 per cent
In the same way that the performance of the Government was measured, it was also necessary to measure the performance of the Opposition. It was apparent that more people felt its performance was “Poor/Very Poor” (57.6 per cent) than those who felt that it was “Good/Very good” (24.9 per cent). The critical statistic was the 17.3 per cent “Fair” response rate it earned.
Comparatively speaking, the PNM’s performance as an opposition had a higher negative rating than the performance of the Government (46.0 per cent compared to 57.6 per cent). This could make a case for a third party to emerge.
11. Do you believe the ILP can become a major force in the politics of T&T?
Yes—34.6 per cent
No—27.6 per cent
Don’t know—21.3 per cent
Not sure—16.6 per cent
This question about the ILP and the perception of respondents in St Joseph was based on the fact that the party had won the Chaguanas West by-election in July. It is apparent that there is a substantial body of opinion (34.6 per cent) that thinks that the ILP can become a major force in politics, while there is enough doubt in the minds of respondents (Don’t know/Not sure-37.9 per cent) to suggest that a concluded view has not been formed just yet.
That unsure element appears to be deciding whether there is a future for the ILP in national politics, while a clear 27.6 per cent is firm in the view that the ILP will not be a major force in the politics of the country. One does not know the extent to which the performance of the ILP representative in the nationally-televised debate may have affected these responses.
12. Does it matter to you that Jack Warner belonged to the People’s Partnership Government for three years before he formed the ILP?
Yes—86.2 per cent
No—6.3 per cent
Don’t know—4.8 per cent
Not sure—2.7 per cent
The centrepiece of the ILP campaign has been the personality of Jack Warner. It is a matter of public record that he was a member of the People’s Partnership Government before he parted ways with it officially on July 5 and won the Chaguanas West by-election on July 29. This question attempted to probe, in a non-partisan way, whether his involvement with the People’s Partnership Government for three years before his formation of the ILP was something that mattered at all to the respondents in the survey.
There is no doubt that Warner is a factor in the minds of people in the St Joseph constituency (86.2 per cent). All other responses are statistically insignificant (No-6.3 per cent, Don’t know-4.8 per cent and Not sure-2.7 per cent). This confirms the hypothesis that one way or another (positive or negative) Warner has become a major factor on the political landscape of the St Joseph constituency.
13. Which party candidate will you vote for in the by-election on November 4?
PP—31.2 per cent
ILP—24.6 per cent
PNM—31.4 per cent
MSJ—1.2 per cent
Don’t know—7.0 per cent
Not sure—4.3 per cent
Will not say-0.2 per cent
Not voting—0.2 per cent
The question of voter preference ahead of the St Joseph by-election was tested in a partially hypothetical environment, as only the identity of the PNM candidate was known at the time of the survey. There is a statistical dead heat between the PNM and the PP, with the PNM fractionally ahead 31.4 per cent to 31.2 per cent. The ILP was the choice of a very significant number of respondents, with a rating of 24.6 per cent.
The undecided voters who responded by saying “Don’t know/Not sure” accounted for 11.3 per cent, while all other responses were statistically insignificant. In assessing the responses to this question, one has to take into account the impact of the nationally-televised debate that took place on the evening before the start of this data-gathering exercise and the opening of the Grand Bazaar interchange during the period of the data collection.
The naming of the PNM candidate ahead of all other parties and the ongoing conduct of the local government elections campaign would also have to be considered in the assessment of these responses. With a margin of error of +/- 4 per cent, it is apparent that this is a close race.
14. In casting your vote, what will be your main reason for your choice?
Political leader—12.5 per cent
Candidate—9.5 per cent
Party loyalty—16.9 per cent
Need for change—40.0 per cent
Need to retain the Government—17.3 per cent
Don’t know—1.7 per cent
Not sure—1.8 per cent
In examining the choices of the respondents, their responses in respect of their motivation were interrogated. The largest response was the “Need for change” which accounted for 40.0 per cent of the survey. The second largest response was the “Need to retain the Government” which got a rating of 17.3 per cent. Party loyalty (16.9 per cent) was the third highest rating and the “Political leader” (12.5 per cent) was the fourth highest rating.
The choice of candidate earned a 9.5 per cent rating, while “Don’t know/Not sure” accounted for 3.5 per cent combined. The high rating given to the need for change (40.0 per cent) might be diluted in a three-party race between two strong opposing parties under the first-past-the-post system of election. Given the fact that the second highest response “Need to retain the Government” (17.3 per cent) can only apply to the PP Government, it would appear that this might become competitive in a three-way contest.
15. People choosing the People’s Partnership classified by ethnicity
Afro—3.0 per cent
Indo—21.8 per cent
Mixed—10.6 per cent
Syrian/Lebanese—0.3 per cent
16. People choosing the ILP classified by ethnicity
Afro—8.0 per cent
Indo—10.4 per cent
Mixed—9.5 per cent
17. People choosing the PNM classified by ethnicity
Afro—21.9 per cent
Indo—2.6 per cent
Mixed—0.9 per cent
18. People choosing the MSJ classified by ethnicity
Afro—0.2 per cent
Mixed—0.8 per cent
In analysing the preferences of respondents by ethnicity in this multi-ethnic constituency, it is apparent that the ILP is making almost equal inroads into traditional UNC and PNM voter blocs. Traditionally, the UNC (representing the PP here) has been able to win a large majority of Indo-Trinidadian voters. Traditionally, the PNM has been able to win a majority of Afro-Trinidadian voters. Mixed-race voters have not had a clear preference ratio when compared to Afro- and Indo-voters.
The presence of the ILP has caused almost evenly balanced responses across ethnicities in their choice of this party when cross-tabulations were undertaken for the 525 questionnaires of the 602 that were administered. The split between the Afro-voters’ preference for the PNM (21.9 per cent) and the Indo-voters’ preference for the PP (21.8 per cent) virtually offset each other. The split between the PNM and the PP among mixed-race voters was PNM (10.9 per cent) and the PP (10.6 per cent).
In such a situation of virtual even weightings between two competitors, the impact of the third party becomes vitally important. The ILP’s rating with Afro-respondents (8.0 per cent), with Indo-respondents (10.4 per cent), and with Mixed-race respondents (9.5 per cent) would suggest that the other responses that were statistically insignificant, relatively speaking, could earn a higher value based on the likely closeness of the contest.
Both the PNM and the PP appear to have lost support to the ILP in almost equal numbers across the board. As a consequence, the outcome of the by-election remains too close to call.
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