Call it now!
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Democratic Labour Party’s term in office and while the dissolution of Parliament is not constitutionally mandated before February 13, 2013, with elections being required 90 days after, there is considerable interest in the political outlook at this time.
Against this background, Barbados Today has commissioned a survey of political opinion which will be presented throughout the course of this week. Interviews for this survey were conducted between January 11, 2013 and January 14, 2013 in all 30 constituencies. This report speaks to the issue of political party support and presents the national support for both parties, along with the project swing at this time, while subsequent reports will present data on leadership and major political issues. Since this is the first CADRES political survey commissioned by Barbados Today, this and subsequent reports will emphasise current data, although some reference will be made to the similar CADRES data that is already in the public domain.
This survey’s methodology is no different to that which was used in other CADRES surveys and was based on approximately 1,080 face to face interviews in specific Polling Divisions of all 30 constituencies. The PDs that CADRES uses are always selected based on the likelihood that they will provide a “measured” assessment of public opinion in each instance using the 2008 election results as a base.
The selection of these PDs is commonly referred to as a “design bias” which complicates the calculation of a margin of error. Notwithstanding CADRES promises that the margin of error of the survey should not exceed the +/- five per cent level which means that it is an accurate predictor of public political opinion at this time. This margin of error, however speaks specifically to the national scenario and those who might gain possession of the constituency data should be aware that no assertions can be made with similar confidence levels within constituencies.
Throughout this and other reports, CADRES uses the term “Uncertain voter”, which refers to those persons who responded, “Don’t know”, “Won’t say”, “None” or “Not Voting” to the major political question. We acknowledge that not all persons identified as “Uncertain”, are indeed unsure of their voting intention, but this is a convenient way to distinguish between committed and uncommitted support. This is a pool of potential voters for either party and in several instances CADRES compares this voter’s opinion with that of the committed Barbados Labour Party and DLP supporter.
The survey was designed by CADRES director Peter W. Wickham and managed by CADRES Research Consultant Kristen C. Hinds who supervised a team of team of 30 interviewers over the past weekend.
There is a perception in some quarters that the election is now “past due” and this has emerged as a major issue now that the DLP has reached its five-year anniversary. To test the validity of this perception, CADRES asked respondents if they believed that elections were now “overdue” and the results are presented in Figure 01. It should be noted that the phrase “overdue” was preferred in this instance since the election is clearly now due and to ask about the election being “due” would have solicited an obvious response.
These data reflect party support as well as the national belief that elections are overdue. It can be seen that 59 per cent of all Barbadians believe that elections are now overdue, but the vast majority of these people have pledged to support the BLP. Among BLP supporters 87 per cent believe that the election is overdue, while 34 per cent of DLP supporters and 49 per cent of “Uncertain” voters think similarly.
The significant point here is that there is a general national belief that the election is now overdue and this is held by a majority of Barbadians, BLP supporters and “Uncertain” voters. The majority of DLP supporters disagree, but this is the smallest party cohort that responded to this question.
INDICATORS OF OUTCOME
In several instances the outcome of an election can be gauged by a test of the national perception of what people believe is likely to happen as distinct from what they would like to happen, or will vote for and this is the assessment that is presented in Figure 02. In this instance, 39 per cent of Barbadians or a clear majority believe that the BLP would win the election if it were called last weekend. This demonstrates that the BLP is currently believed to be leading the DLP and this might give that party some advantages where perceptions are concerned.
A key indicator is the belief that there should be a change of government and the pervasiveness of this view was tested in the question presented in Figure 03. In this instance people were asked if they believed that this was a good time to change the government and it can be seen that 47 per cent of Barbadians supported this view, while 30 per cent said “No” and 23 per cent refused to answer. It is useful to note that in the last CADRES poll before the 2008 election recorded a desire for change at the level of 48 per cent which is not dissimilar to the desire presently being recorded.
Figure 04 presents data related to party support, which is the most critical aspect of any poll. Respondents were asked to identify the party they would vote for and it can be seen that the BLP attracted the support of 35 per cent of committed voters polled, while the DLP secured the support of 25 per cent of respondents. Less than one per cent of respondents expressed interest in PEP while a total of 40 per cent of respondents were unwilling to respond to the political question.
This large quantity of uncommitted support makes it difficult to project the likely outcome of the next election; however CADRES has developed a projection tool which relies on the historic support for both political parties and combines this with the data recorded in this survey.
The details of the CADRES approach to projecting the likely outcome is presumed to be well-known and is presented in Figure 05.
At this time, CADRES is projecting an electoral swing of seven per cent towards the BLP and away from the DLP which is sufficient to remove the DLP from office if an election were called last weekend. Barbados Today readers might recall a recent CADRES projection which suggested a swing in the vicinity of six per cent in September last year and this seven per cent would therefore represent a similar level of movement away from the DLP.
Tomorrow’s publication will speak to the issue of leadership and CADRES will make general comments and an assessment at the end of this four part series.