The People’s National Movement (PNM) is slightly ahead of the United National Congress (UNC) in a national poll on the August 10 general elections conducted by HHB and Associates Limited for Guardian Media.
The poll shows that 35 per cent of respondents support the PNM and 29 per cent support the UNC, while only two per cent said they would vote for other parties. However, with two weeks to go before voters cast their ballots, 16 per cent they are still undecided and 11 per cent indicated they would not vote.
Managing Director of HHB and Associates Louis Bertrand said new political parties have not influenced the voting population.
“None...not a single one of them. So third force, yes, but the third force is not there as yet. We have to deal with what we have,” he said.
He said two important caveats must be applied in considering the poll findings: “In the first place the difference in percentages for the PNM and UNC are only marginally significantly different when adjusted for the error of the estimates of the poll (four per cent.) Secondly, in the first past the post system,
overall votes (as derived from a national poll) tell very little or about the potential winner. A party has to win a majority of constituencies in order to win the elections.”
He added: “This is a national poll. This does not indicate who is likely to win.”
The poll found that voting will be heavily influenced by race, with 61 per cent of voters of African descent reporting that they will vote for the PNM, while six per cent are supporting the UNC.
“Similarly, 55 per cent of Indos will vote for the UNC, only seven per cent will vote for the PNM. It seems from the poll that the PNM has a significant percentage of the vote of those of other races—44 per cent—compared with 19 per cent for the UNC,” the poll stated.
Respondents were also asked whether they have “definitely decided to vote for your selected party or is there a chance you might change your mind?” Based on their responses, 77 per cent of those who intend to vote have decided which party they will vote for, ten per cent don’t know and 13 per cent might change their minds.
At least 40 per cent of respondents said they did not care much about who wins the elections. In response to that poll question, 22 per cent said “not very much” and 18 per cent “not at all”, while 59 per cent cared “a great deal” or “a fair amount.” Only one per cent said they “don’t know.”
Broken down by age, just under half—45 per cent to 48 per cent in the 18 to 44 age group—said they do not care who wins.
“This drops to between 29 per cent to 36 per cent for those in the 45-plus age brackets,” the poll stated.
“Motivating young people to get involved in the electoral process has been known to be difficult for some time now, but the lack of interest seems to be spreading up to age 44.”
Bertrand said this is very worrying to him as a citizen.
“What is surprising is that young goes up to the age of 44. There is quite a substantial amount of people between ages 30 and 34 who are not interested. It is known that young people tend not to be interested. What is surprising is that people are becoming less and less interested even though it is people who are older. So there is a sense of disillusionment in the country with the whole political process,” he said.
It is very widespread and it going up the age brackets. The disillusionment speaks about the two main political parties.”
On the issue of how the country has fared over the last five years, the poll showed that almost half of the respondents—47 per cent—felt T&T had fared worse and 28 per cent felt it remained the same. Just under 24 per cent thought the country fared better and one per cent of voters were not sure.
“With respect to personal fortunes, almost one third (30 per cent) reported that they were personally worse off now than five years ago and almost half (43 per cent) claimed their personal situation had not changed,” the poll reported.
Only 27 per cent felt they had done better.
A two-stage sampling procedure was used for the poll. In the first stage, a sampling of constituencies was selected with the probability of selection being proportional to the number of registered electors in each constituency. This was based on the current Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) data.
In the second stage, polling divisions in each of the selected constituencies were selected based on the size of victory of the winning party. A sample of 600 adults who were registered to vote was selected.
Questionnaires were administered face-to-face by interviewers to households in the selected polling divisions.
Respondents were asked about their interest in the elections, the major issues influencing their votes, the party most capable of solving problems, the general progress of the country and people, performance in running the country, the favourability ratings of key political leaders, comparative ratings of the PNM and UNC leaders as prime minister, party image and voting intentions.