A poll of the island’s 30 constituencies conducted by Systematic Marketing & Research Services Inc has given the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government a failing grade in most aspects of its management of Barbados’ affairs since taking office in 2008.
Government was given a negative rating for its handling of the economy, unemployment, crime, water resources and garbage collection. Those polled rated education as the best area in which Government had performed. The Freundel Stuart administration received greatest disfavour in its handling of the economy and unemployment with 65 per cent rating Government a failure in dealing with the economy, and 75 per cent criticizing its handling of the unemployment situation.
A meagre 13 per cent approved of Government’s handling of the economy while seven per cent expressed satisfaction with the way the unemployment situation in the country was being dealt. With several householders in the north of the island facing potable water woes, fifty-nine per cent of the respondents gave Government a failing grade in the manner in which it was dealing with providing this social amenity. Only 18 per cent approved of Government’s performance.
The story was the same in Government’s handling of waste collection with 39 per cent of persons polled giving a negative overview of the state’s performance, and only 29 per cent giving a positive rating. Twenty-three per cent approved of Government’s handling of the crime situation in the island while 46 per cent of respondents gave a negative rating. The illegal drugs situation was isolated from the overall crime perspective and only 23 per cent gave a positive rating while 41 per cent gave a negative rating on Government’s handling of that scourge in the country.
Despite controversy related to the implementation of tuition fees at the University of the West Indies, as well as running battles between Government, the Barbados Union of Teachers and the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, the state’s handling of education received the highest approval rating at 49 per cent while only 21 per cent disapproved of Government’s stewardship of the sector.
Government’s overall performance took a bashing, with just six per cent of those polled stating that the current administration was taking the country in the right direction. Over 36 per cent expressed the view that things in the island were going in the wrong direction or getting worse. However, a major percentage, 54, was reluctant to choose a side, as the indication was that there was parity in what was going right and wrong in the country. Respondents who believed Barbados was much better off compared to five years ago were in the minority (six per cent), while those who saw the country as “somewhat better” were at 14 per cent. Sixty-one per cent of persons polled believed Barbados was either “somewhat worse” or “much worse” than five years ago.
The personal circumstances of respondents largely mirrored their views on the national situation. Six per cent said their lives were better than five years ago, while 19 per cent said theirs was “somewhat better”. Forty-five per cent indicated their lives were either somewhat worse or much worse than five years ago.
Fifty-one per cent of persons polled indicated their displeasure with Government’s performance since taking up office with only 18 per cent giving the DLP a positive rating. The numbers were not particularly flattering when conjecture was raised on a possible BLP performance. Thirty-nine per cent of those polled said they believed the situation in Barbados would be the same under the BLP while 34 per cent said they believed the BLP would have performed better. Ten per cent said the BLP would have performed worse.
Interestingly, though more than 60 per cent of respondents wanted to see the back of the DLP Government, only 34 per cent believed the BLP was ready at this stage to take Barbados forward, while 32 per cent said the party was not ready. Those who felt that the BLP was ready to take Barbados forward were well spread by sex and age group, and slightly higher among first time voters, those with post primary education, and those more likely to support the BLP in the next general election.
The consensus among those polled was that the biggest problem facing the island today was unemployment, followed by crime and the economy.
In order to achieve the objectives outlined above, a quantitative survey was undertaken.
A questionnaire was developed in collaboration with the stakeholders, ensuring that all of the objectives are addressed.
Trained, experienced interviewers administered the questionnaire in face- to- face interviews with a selected sample of individuals in the designated areas.
The interviewers were briefed specifically for this exercise.
The completed questionnaires were edited for consistency, and coded for processing by computer.
Random checks were also made to ensure compliance with the instructions given and to validate the process.
The processed data were analyzed by demographic characteristics and form the basis of this report presented to the stakeholders.
Other discrete characteristics were also analyzed as determined by the stakeholders.
ABOUT THE POLLSTER
Joe Davis of Systematic Marketing & Research Services Inc., No. 38 Four Roads, St Philip, has been involved in polling for about three decades. He has worked for various interests in Barbados and a number of other Caribbean territories.
He correctly called the 2006 general election in St Lucia which saw the return to office of the United Workers Party’s octogenarian leader Sir John Compton as Prime Minister. Sir John defied the odds and other polls to soundly defeat Dr Kenny Anthony’s St Lucia Labour Party.
Davis has also correctly called general election victory for late Dominica Prime Minister Dame Eugenia Charles.
The Systematic Marketing & Research team for the latest assessment of the political situation in Barbados was led by Davis and supported by clerical, administrative, supervisory staff and a team of interviewers.
Sample design and selection
The sample targeted 1108 persons 16 years or older who are nationals of Barbados.
Respondents were selected from three polling divisions in each of the thirty constituencies as the sample selection base.
The final sample design and selection was determined in collaboration with the client.
For the sample selection a multi-stage sample design was employed, with inter-locking quota control on age and sex to be representative of the national population 16 years and older. • The first stage of the process will be the selection of polling divisions within constituencies.
• The second stage was the selection of households within the selected polling divisions.
• The third stage was the selection of the respondent using a specifically designed quota control selection sheet, removing the bias of selection from the interviewer, while at the same time maintaining the pre-determined sample targets representative of the target population. Only one person was selected from a household.