A poll commissioned by the incumbent Unity Labour Party (ULP) found that 29 per cent of 800 persons surveyed in the 13 constituencies in St. Vincent “were either unsure of their voting intentions” for next Wednesday’s general election “or preferred not to say”.
On previous occasions, CADRES has successfully estimated where this ‘Uncertain Support’ is likely to fall based on the electoral history of St Vincent and our formula projects a likely national swing of +5% in favour of the ULP, with a commensurate deterioration in the fortunes of the NDP,” the Peter Wickham-headed regional polling agency said.
“On this present track, therefore, the ULP is likely to emerge victorious on the 9th of December 2015,” Cadres said in a release on Tuesday.
Asked how many seats the ULP, which held 8 of the 15 seats in the last Parliament, is likely to win, Wickham told I-Witness News:
“We expect that the ULP will successfully defend all their seats and the most vulnerable NDP seats are the Leeward seats so these would be the most likely to fall if the swing continues to be positive for the ULP. If the ULP has a good day they could also pick up seats in Kingstown.”
The poll was conducted between Nov. 20 and 22 to gauge the likely voting behaviour of Vincentians in the elections, CADRES said.
At the time of the poll, 43 per cent of respondents indicated they intended to vote for the ULP, while 28 per cent said they will be voting for the NDP.
Cadres said that during that time period, face-to-face interviews were conducted with approximately 800 persons spread evenly across the 13 constituencies in St. Vincent.
The two Grenadines seats, which are NDP stronghold, were not included in the poll, but CADRES gave no reason for their omission, even as the ULP has said that it will win in the Southern Grenadines.
“The survey was designed to achieve a margin of error of +/- 5% with regard to the mainland island of St Vincent,” the release said.
It further stated: “It should be noted that this projection is based on stated voter intentions last weekend, which could be modified (in either direction) in the remaining days before voting.”
CADRES said that in 2010, its pre-election poll “projected a swing of -3 per cent against the ULP, but that the ULP would nonetheless retain office and on that occasion there was a decline of -3.4 per cent in the fortunes of the ULP.”
The October poll also measured the popularity of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace
“The popularity of the two potential leaders was explored on this occasion by way of a direct question asking respondents which individual they would prefer to be led by and some 61 per cent expressed a preference for Prime Minister Gonsalves, while 37 per cent preferred Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, while 2 per cent preferred other individuals.”
Of the respondents who said responded “Other” to the question of choice of leader, Wickham hold I-Witness News:
“… there was no request of them to identify these persons since the quantity was small and statistically insignificant.”
It was not clear how the pollster determined before the completion of the poll, which was done in 13 districts, that the number was “insignificant”.
He, however, told I-Witness News:
“I should note that in previous polls where alternative names were solicited, people mentioned names like James Mitchell and, in some instances, God.”
CADRES said that the finding of the poll on the leadership question is “consistent” with the previous unpublished CADRES survey conducted in October of 2015 before the election date was announced.
“It is also noteworthy that in 2010 CADRES released a pre-election survey for St Vincent where Prime Minister Gonsalves was preferred by 52 per cent of Vincentians and Mr. Eustace 36 per cent,” the release said.
CADRES said it does not anticipate that it will conduct any further polls prior to the next Wednesday’s elections.
The ULP, which has registered declining fortunes in every election since coming to office in 2001, is seeking an unprecedented fourth term in office for a Labour government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, five years after losing four seats to the main opposition New Democratic Party.
ULP leader, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves was tight-lipped at a party press conference last week Monday when asked whether the ULP had conducted a poll recently and if so, what were the findings.
He, however, said that he would personally determine what elements of ULP polls are published.
Wickham, citing ULP poll results, said in October that the vote was too close to call.
“If I did one, I wouldn’t tell anybody,” Gonsalves said in response to a question about whether his party had conducted another poll since October.
“It’s OK for Peter Wickham to have spoken about that poll when he did and the terms in which he did. I know what the numbers were,” he said in response to an I-Witness News question.
“And if we do a poll, we would decide whether — and frankly speaking, not we; I would decide … what would be released and what would not be released, if anything at all,” said Gonsalves, who said that in an election campaign, the party leader assumes the position of commander-in-chief.