Seek the uncertain

You do not like political scientist Peter Wickham.

As far as you are concerned, he likes neither Prime Minister Freundel Stuart nor Opposition Leader Owen Arthur and prefers their charismatic juniors Chris Sinckler and Mia Mottley. Therefore his analyses start with a bias.

The last time you checked polls do not vote, people do, and so you are not going to waste time even glancing at the results of the latest CADRES public opinion poll conducted by his organisation on behalf of this newspaper.

Having observed the behaviour of Barbadian politicians and their loyal supporters over the years, and heard their reactions whenever such surveys was released in the past, we feel certain the expressions above would have been among their reactions ever since we started to release the findings of the CADRES poll on Tuesday.

And then of course there would be those pleased with the research findings, who would be walking around saying “I told you so”.

Instead of shooting the messenger(s) and dismissing his message, or bragging that victory is well in sight, we think that with the next general elections now imminent the CADRES/Barbados TODAY effort is an opportunity for the both the DLP and BLP to reflect soberly on the message the Barbadian electorate is sending both of them.

In the case of the Government the signs are not good. Wickham’s poll, undertaken last weekend in all 30 constituencies not only found Barbadians saying the general elections were “overdue”, but that they wanted it held so they could vote the DLP out after one term.

They were also unhappy with the job Stuart was doing and thought Arthur would do better and therefore preferred him to be the country’s leader.
The results have left us with a number of questions, which will only be answered after the poll is held.

Is the sun setting on the current Freundel Stuart-led Democratic Labour Party administration after just one term in office?

Having waved Owen Arthur and his Barbados Labour Party administration goodbye in January 2008 are Barbadians ready to welcome back the St. Peter MP to Bay Street and Two Mile Hill?

Whatever the outcome will it mean the end of the political careers of these two party stalwarts who are now both past age 60 and the anointing of successors?

While the Dems might frown and the Bees rejoice at the outcome of the CADRES survey our hope is that both sides would use the rare opportunity of having such a poll so close to an election to think about an important statistic.

We have full confidence in the CADRES method, which has consistently predicted the outcome of general elections in Barbados, so accurately in fact that Wickham correctly predicted last time around that the DLP would win 20 seats in the House of Assembly and the BLP 10.

But the fact is that that while the writing informing the end of the Stuart administration appears to be on the wall, and Arthur’s BLP seems on course to be returned to office in the coming weeks, both sides should take careful note of the number of Barbadians in the “uncertain” category.

“Respondents were asked to identify the party they would vote for and it can be seen that the BLP attracted the support of 35 of committed voters polled, while the DLP secured the support of 25 pr 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,” Wickham’s analysis of party support said in part.

As the pollster has pointed out in the past, and it is something that we agree with, uncertain does not necessarily mean that the individuals questioned do not support either the BLP or DLP or do not know who they are going to vote for.

It could simply mean that they prefer not to reveal their choice(s) to an individual in front of them with a questionnaire on such sensitive subject matter.

That said, given the waning voter turnout in elections of the recent past it is clear that many people are disillusioned and unwilling to mark their X in a polling booth.

With their party support firmly in their corners, based on the poll data, it is these uncertain people that both parties should seek out as they try to convince voters that theirs is the organisation to elect to govern.

It would be unwise for either the Dems or Bees to ignore this and other uncertainties.

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