Real reform is desperately needed to return focus to the issues

When The Royal Gazette contacted me last week regarding commentary on the election campaign I figured sure, I can provide some filler content on a slow news day.  I threw something together based upon my earlier post (Bermuda Election 2017: Big on slogans, short on solutions) and submitted it on Thursday.  Nowhere in my wildest imagination did I expect to be featured on the front page, referred to as some sort of expert while overshadowing the OBA’s election platform announcement.  To be honest I am wholly taken aback.  I am certainly by no means an expert and am just someone on the sidelines commentating on the match.  It is shocking to consider what the implications are when the editor thinks the ramblings of a no-name blogger about our broken political system are more interesting than the OBA’s platform?  The thought is perplexing.

The overarching concern that I tried to express in my comments is that our political system no longer serves the people because politicians are discouraged from pursuing real reform.  All indications are thus far that both parties are wholly unprepared for this election, lack tangible solutions and are afraid of the people. Instead of working with the people they try to be as vague as possible in the run up to the election and at the last minute make some big unsubstantiated promises to try to win support.  It’s a recurring theme that is getting worse with each election.  In the meantime, many people who could participate stay on the sidelines as our political system renders a 3rd party or independent candidates impossible.

People seem to forget that in the run up to the 2012 election the OBA wasn’t geared up to win by a landslide, it was a very close race.  They produced a platform which presented a feel good promise of inclusiveness but lacked real substance, real measurable deliverables.  When the OBA realized it wasn’t going to win them the election they trotted out the promise that they would deliver 2000 jobs.  It wasn’t qualified what they meant by it but it is what the people wanted to hear and tipped the election in their favor.  The OBA didn’t explain that things like Americas Cup, the airport deal and pathways to status were the price to be paid to create jobs. Once the election was over people didn’t want to hear it, 2000 magical jobs were promised with no expectation of sacrifice.  The OBA in the end are paying the price for not having set expectations and failing to deliver.

People also forget that the 2007 election was the same in favor of the PLP.  It was pre-recession, the economy was overheating and people were being priced out of living in Bermuda.  The PLP weren’t set to win the election by a landslide.  So, 10 days before the election, they rolled out a platform littered with the word free.  Free day care.  Free public transport.  Interest free loans.  Free Bermuda college.  Free computers and dental coverage for seniors.  Nothing in life is free.  What we discovered was that not only were most of these promises not feasible, it was the taxpayer that was footing this bill in the form of millions in deficits and billions in debt.

This is ultimately the problem.  We want our politicians to do the impossible, fix things without changing anything or us having to make any sacrifices.  They sell us on grand unrealistic promises at the last minute and this is what we vote for.  We don’t want real reform.  We lament that capable people sit on the sidelines and don’t get involved but we don’t want to demand any kind of real change to enable them.  Our two party system ensures that independents or are third party simply aren’t viable.  We won’t see real change until we can convince our politicians that they won’t get elected until they reform our political system to make other parties and independents viable.  The problem is, politicians will never pledge to give up power unless they think it is the only way they can win the election.  Perhaps we can convince one of the parties that this year’s last minute pledge to tip the scales should be realistic political reform.




Full commentary regarding the election

Last week The Royal Gazette asked if I would answer a few questions regarding the election campaigns thus far.  Here is a copy of my full responses to a set of four questions they posed that delve a bit deeper than the portions selected for publication.

From what you have seen, what do you think of the OBA and PLP’s election campaigns so far?

Each campaign has been heavy on rhetoric and slogans but short on substance.  Neither has proposed tangible solutions to our predicament and are more focused on trying to discredit the other.


The OBA is touting their slow and steady track record but they lack discussion of new plans and new ideas.  Their slogan of “Forward together, not back” rings hollow as they have not lived up to being the inclusive party they campaigned they’d be in the last election.  It leaves one wondering who they mean when they say ‘together’?  How can we be certain that a future OBA government will move all Bermudians forward together?


The PLP are touting their Vision 2025 which is big on ideas but short on plans on how to actually achieve them.  They claim they are “standing strong, putting Bermudians first”, but we have witnessed the PLP putting political expediency over what will truly put Bermudians first.  Often times one gets the sense that their version of “Bermudian” only considers one segment of the population and not all Bermudians.  How can we be certain the PLP will stand strong for and put all Bermudians first?


Sadly thus far both campaigns have been wholly disappointing in their finger pounting and rhetoric compared to their lack of focus on solutions to the issues.  You would think we are gearing up for a football match between small town rivals rather than deciding our future.


Do you think voters have been given enough information about how either party would handle issues such as the economy, crime, education or social issues?

Voters seem to be given as little information as possible to allow politicians to avoid accountability on complex issues. Neither party have track records of great success because governance has become increasingly difficult thanks to the recession and the internet.  Politicians avoid admitting when they failed, they just spin it making feel good party statements, touting quick fixes and focusing attention on the failures of their opponent. We need real reform but the people don’t want to hear that. So the politicians tell us what we want to hear or avoid telling us as much as they can.


Our economy is broken, we’re deep in debt and there are no silver bullets. Both parties avoid admitting that we’ve become an expensive and difficult place to do business that struggles to be competitive. Countries like France under newly elected President Macron have realized the importance of reform to revitalize the economy.  Countries like the  US and the UK have fooled themselves with bold populist promises that struggle to match expectations.  Reform and accountability are necessary to revitalize our economy but neither party wants to admit it because it would not be easy or popular.


Our children’s future has become a political football.  Neither party has succeeded in fixing education.  Neither admits why they failed to fix it, what they learned and what they’d do differently.  We spend more money per public student than the fees are for private school.  The problem isn’t money.  Every time either government has attempted to make hard choices the people have opposed it.  We want our politicians to do the impossible, fix education without changing anything.


Crime is another complex problem neither has succeeded in solving.  We did not provide opportunity and support to a segment of our population so we are seeing the result when they create opportunity and support for themselves.  Fixing that in the long term requires fixing other issues like jobs and education.  Addressing crime today requires taking a hard look at how we respond to it and how it is funded. A hard line approach has not worked but conservative Bermudians are not willing to consider alternatives.  So politicians do all they can to kick the can down the road.

There is a growing divide between the haves and the have-nots which drives discontent.  There is a temptation for politicians to stir nationalistic and populist sentiment for political gain.  It is easy to point to the divide between rich non-Bermudians and poor Bermudians to sensationalize the divide of prosperity between white and black.  We can demonize foreigners who come here as the problem and make them feel unwelcome but driving out foreign wealth will not fix anything and will make everyone poorer.  What we really need is a hard look at only the divide between Bermudians.  We need to understand how this divide is growing and what we can do to reverse it.  We need to reform policies that only benefit wealthy Bermudians and evaluate how those policies negatively impact the average Bermudian.  Just as one party aims to leverage non-Bermudian wealth to drive the divide between us, the other doesn’t do enough to acknowledge the true divide between Bermudians.


Ultimately the people aren’t offered real solutions because we don’t want to hear them.  Real solutions require hard choices and sacrifice which can be politically unpalatable.  Our two party system is intentionally combative and encourages our politicians to make our election about who will do a worse job rather than working together to do better.  Thus it is no surprise that no clear plans or solutions have been presented.  Instead we hear vague quick fixes, feel good soundbites and blame for the other party’s inability to fix it.  The saddest reality is that this is what the people want to hear because we’re not ready to face the hard truths of our predicament and demand our leadership do the same.


How do you think voters are impacted when a political party places emphasis on slogans, gimmicks and flag-waving rather than talking about its platform on specific issues? Do you think that has been an issue in Bermuda at this election or at previous elections?

Focusing on party branding and loyalty emphasizes the divide between supporters of each party.  It makes people take sides where they view it more important whether you’re with or against.  If you try to stand in the middle and focus on the issues you’re the enemy because you are not with the party.  It encourages blindness to the issues and no accountability.  People focus more on voting against the other party than holding their own party accountable.  That lack of accountability gives politicians a free mandate to do as they please knowing that next election they can just rinse and repeat with the same opponent.


The trend of each election seems to progress more towards party identity and further from the issues.  The internet has made governance hard and public opinion can be ruthless and unforgiving.  Politicians are not allowed to be people and make mistakes.  Thus politicians don’t want to admit they were wrong even if they were well meaning because it is often just a google search away.  It creates a fear of being held accountable for pledging something that seems like a good idea but turns out not to be but now are expected to see it through.  Thus it is easier to make no pledges, no promises and instead focus on being cheerleaders.


How would you like to see the final few weeks of the election campaigns unfold?

I would like to see  a genuine admission of what failures each party has made, why things didn’t work, what could be done differently and how they will adjust in the future.  Alongside that I would also like to see well thought out platforms outlining each parties solutions for the issues.  What would they do, how will they do it, why do they think it will work, what are the expected outcomes and how will they identify if it isn’t working and adjust.



What is the OBA’s education policy and present status?

The Minister of Education has a statement in Bernews today:

Minister: Committed To Our Children’s Education

Here’s the thing.  The first third of it talks about the union and the PLP’s misinformation.  The second third is the budget statement portion for education. The final third are some feel good platitudes.  What was the point here as I’m not getting it?

Yes, money was spent on education… and?  Perhaps do a little bit more explaining why this was necessary, what the value was or specifically rebutting the Union and PLP’s points.  Randomly accusing them of misinformation, trotting out the budget statement and then making some feel good statements honestly leaves me confused.

At the moment there is nothing on the OBA’s website regarding education that I can find and the 2012 platform has disappeared.  Going back in Bernews we can see there was a previous statement made in early June.

Minister: ‘They Now Claim To Have All Answers’

Yet when you look at it, a third is used to attack the PLP, then the remaining two thirds are a long winded statement.

This is one of the problems with this election.  How is anyone supposed to know what the OBA’s position is on education if their biggest focus is attacking the PLP and everything is published as a word for word statement.  It simply isn’t digestable.  Give me bullet points, diagrams, infographics.  Something that helps me get the gist of it.  Even a well formatted document with some bolded section headlines would be a step forwards.



Bermuda Election 2017: Big on slogans, short on solutions

“Forward together, not back”

“Standing strong, putting Bermudians first”

Bermuda’s future is looking bleak. We’re 3 weeks away from the election and each party is busy trying to discredit the other while neither has proposed tangible solutions to our predicament.  What little is out there represents the OBA touting their slow and steady track record but they lack any discussion of new plans and new ideas. The PLP, by contrast, have their Vision 2025 which is big on ideas but short on how to actually achieve them.  Hopefully things change before the election and we see solid platforms released soon with credible ideas and plans. If not, Bermuda’s future doesn’t look so good.

From the perspective of this blog, the greatest concerns for the next government are

  • How we manage our debt and deficit
  • How we manage our economy
  • How we manage our morale of our people

The debt and deficit are of huge concern and yet garner limited discussion.  We are so deep in debt and unfunded pension liabilities that it is hard to see how we’re going to work our way out of it.  We’re at risk of running towards bankruptcy as rates rise.  We can make things considerably worse if we take on more debt and can’t reduce our deficit. We risk pushing ourselves into a corner where drastic solutions like mass layoffs, currency controls and nationalizing private pensions become economy crushing realities.  There aren’t nearly enough people talking about this.

The OBA’s approach thus far has been to not rock the boat. They avoided reducing the civil service through anything but attrition and they’ve avoided raising debt aside from that required to pay interest and roll over previous debt.  It’s a low risk approach that hasn’t won them great accolades but has been working thus far, albeit incredibly slowly.  Unfortunately they likely will need to manage to stay in government for the next few hundred years it’ll take for the strategy to pay off.  They haven’t suggested they’d do anything differently.  Is it safe to assume an OBA government would be more of the same?

The PLP are frankly terrifying when it comes to the debt and deficit.  Don’t get me wrong, if Eugene Cox were still alive today and in charge of finance it’d be easy to sleep at night. However, finances after Eugene Cox were a nightmare.  We’re billions in debt and have very little to show for it.  The PLP’s track record is concerning because their answer to almost any problem is to throw money at it.  We don’t have that luxury anymore.  The PLP haven’t said anything about what they learned or what they’d do differently.  They frankly spend more time blaming the OBA for adding to the debt while conveniently sidestepping the question of how they would have cut the deficits they left behind and avoid more debt.  I truly pray that they are sitting on a credible strategy for addressing this that they’ll reveal shortly.  If not I fear a PLP government will put us on a path to national bankruptcy or drastic solutions and then national bankruptcy.

The economy is also a big concern.  We’re not in the midst of an amazing recovery and instead we’re still limping out of the recession.  International business is facing increased global competition and low rates that has led to consolidation in the industry.  Job numbers are still low and barely growing. The days of reinsurance being a growth industry are over as it has matured over the years.  Increasingly companies are having to start thinking about how to be more efficient vs. how to get more business and this is much harder to do.  On top of that, Bermuda has a big target on it’s back from politicians in the US and EU that introduces considerable uncertainty about our future.  Our economy has really only been kept afloat through stimulus programs like the hospital project, America’s Cup and soon the airport.  It is likely we wouldn’t be faring all that well if we didn’t have this stimulus.  We have to grow our way out of our predicament while simultaneously reducing costs and increasing efficiency, where are the plans to do so?

The OBA’s approach to the economy seems to be finding creative ways to stoke the fire with stimulus as well as public opposition while struggling for solutions to reignite growth. Beyond that they’re on a campaign to raise awareness of both our international business and tourism products.  They’re busy copying other jurisdictions with things like LLCs and casinos but where is the innovation? Doing business in Bermuda can be painful, bureaucratic and expensive.  We simply aren’t terribly competitive and while the OBA deserves credit for introducing a variety of positive small steps, they haven’t produced plans for how we can innovate and lead once again.  What tangible and innovative ideas does the OBA have to reignite growth or increase efficiency?

The PLP deserves credit for doing many good things when it comes to international business in their time while they also deserve credit for doing things that made the recession significantly worse.  Solvency II equivalency and TIEAs comes to mind as something where the PLP didn’t take their eyes off the ball and positively set up our future. However, poorly thought out policies like term limits were a disaster.  If 70% of people on work permits received a waiver from the policy then it wasn’t just ineffective, it was a joke. It did nothing to solve the underlying problem of providing more opportunities for Bermudians.  It was a politically expedient solution fueling populist notions that Bermudians were being put first when they weren’t.  In the end it was a failure and it contributed to the drastic downturn in jobs in the recession.

The PLP claims they are “putting Bermudians first” but that only seems to apply when it suits their political aims and doesn’t represent long term well thought out solutions that actually put Bermudians first. Protectionist populist notions seem to drive the PLP’s agenda which can be good for short term political gain but disastrous for long term growth.  To their credit, the PLP have quite a few ideas in their Vision 2025 but they are short on details and feasibility when implementation is the hard part. To lead effectively, you have to do more than come up with the idea. You have to execute on it.  Execution of ideas is where the PLP struggles.  What concrete well thought out plans do the PLP have to grow our economy or make it more efficient?

The morale of our people are the biggest concern as an angry populace can scuttle the best of efforts to recover the economy and tackle our debt.  Many Bermudians feel left behind and wonder if Bermuda is in their future or if they’ll have to migrate elsewhere.  Populist and protectionist biases drive people to believe that nationalism will provide better results in an age where we’re heavily dependent on global trade and commerce. These biases drive misunderstandings and fake news in this new age of the internet which has changed the scope of how people become aware of issues.  As such, it is incredibly important that people are involved in the decision making process far more than ever before and properly informed of what they’re deciding so that populist and protectionist biases don’t result in the local equivalent of Brexit or Trump.

The OBA have largely been out of touch with the people but to their credit have shown signs of learning from their mistakes. The OBA that was elected and the OBA we’ve seen over the last few years were very different from one another. As a result they’ve made some pretty big gaffs that have riled up the populace. One of their biggest problems they’ve faced is communicating with and involving the people in the decision making process. Many people feel left out of the process and feel the OBA isn’t focused on making the people’s future better, only that of the privileged class.  This is a serious perception problem that the OBA needs to address.  It was promised in the last election but we haven’t seen enough of it.  What indication is there that another OBA government will live up to those expectations?  The OBA claims “forward together” but they haven’t demonstrated enough thus far that together means all of us so how can we believe it will happen with another OBA government?

The PLP are very in touch with the people but too often capitalize on it for political gain at long term cost to our future.  Blocking parliament over the airport deal was a great example.  The cost to our reputation for stability wasn’t worth it and the fallout from it was disgraceful.  We truly need to put Bermudians first in the long term.  The PLP’s insight into what is broken and how Bermudians end up disadvantaged and discriminated against is valuable. However they tarnish their cause when they conveniently shift their positions for political gain.  Worse, their attempts to redefine “Bermudian” as only encompassing a certain segment of the population do more to divide us against one another than unite us to put all Bermudians first.

Frankly I’m discouraged with the prospects for the coming election.  Yet again we’re being presented between the choice of who is the least worst option rather than who is the best. We’re being bombarded with a disgusting amount of rhetoric and pointing fingers and almost no real solutions.  Neither party is living up to their slogans. The OBA haven’t lived up to be who they campaigned as and certainly don’t yet instill enough confidence that they’ll fulfill the pledge that by electing them we will move “forward together, not back”.  The PLP don’t yet instill enough confidence that they’ll fulfill the pledge that by electing them they will be “putting Bermudians first” vs putting the party first.  I hold out faint hope that things change before the election and that each party will wake up and start campaigning to deliver a better future together that puts Bermudians first.  Each party publishing real tangible platforms outlining their visions and plans for the future would be a good start.




Will AI and automation kill jobs?

This discussion keeps coming up and I thought I’d copy a comment I posted on a facebook thread here.

The first ATM machine went operational 50+ years ago in 1966 and bank tellers are still around today. The technology didn’t simply eliminate all jobs, it created efficiency that allowed banks to focus efforts elsewhere.

The days of a business dedicating large portions of their time to banking are gradually disappearing as advances like ATMs, internet banking and other inventions take hold. As a result, the cost of banking has reduced and allowed smaller businesses who would otherwise not have been able to survive to flourish.

We’ve been developing tools that replace labor in mass for centuries. From the printing press, to farming tools, to large machinery on to automated factories.

In each case it has never been a revolution that eliminates humans completely from the equation and instead is an evolution where we find an equilibrium. There is always a balance to be found of the cost of automation vs. the abilities of humans to do the work.

We won’t see as much of a rise in artificial intelligence in the form that replaces humans as we will in augmented intelligence that assists humans in becoming more productive. We need to figure out how to prepare for this and leverage the opportunities it will provide for people to be significantly more productive.

Our focus needs to be on supporting greater entrepreneurship to take advantage of new efficiencies and supporting the ability for workers to retrain to take advantage of new labour demands. A basic income is one of the greatest means to enable this.



America’s Cup unlikely to return?

The Royal Gazette has an article up downplaying the potential for America’s Cup to return to Bermuda.  Those who have followed its progress would know that this has always been a possibility.

My understanding is that the decision of where to host comes down to 3 core considerations.

  1. The team who wins ultimately decides where they want to defend.
  2. The defenders need to find a venue willing to host who sees enough benefit in it (eg. San Francisco had the option and turned it down because it didn’t make financial sense for them)
  3. Most of the teams are trying to convert the America’s Cup into a profitable business and build viewership.  New Zealand is the only country that is presently fanatical about the America’s Cup and likely doesn’t need this as badly.  The winner still ultimately has a considerable amount of say in the direction and future of the event.
This leads me to a few thoughts on the business side of things.  It is widely known that many factions in the America’s Cup are trying to convert it to being a more profitable venture similar to Formula One.  In order to do so they are heavily reliant on building solid TV coverage.  
The few reports on coverage so far is that it has not been ideal. This suggests they need interest through encouraging more teams and more events spread out over time. Hence the world series events and the reduction in boat sizes to encourage more teams.  The more competition, the more potential interest and viewership.

Thus we’re seeing an aim to shorten the competition from a 4 year cycle to a 2 year one.  Likely more focus on the world series and enough focus on the finale to sustain a big climax.  I believe that ideally they’d aim for a host of the finale on the East Coast of the US or alternatively Bermuda as the timezone sites well enough for coverage of the US during the day and EU in the evening which has the best potential for building viewership.  Chicago or anywhere else on the east cost still stand out as potentials.
Once the viewership is large enough then it can really be hosted anywhere but for now, the America’s Cup is a fringe sport.  Google Trends shows it pretty clearly when you compare America’s Cup to Formula One over the last 5 years.  They clearly want to convert the blue line to be more like the red one and the tiny spike of the last event in San Francisco pales in comparison to the regular interest in Formula One.
One other thing. People having animosity towards hosting the America’s Cup and making it political certainly doesn’t help as I’m sure they’d rather see focus on the event itself, not articles about local politics.
Will they host the finale in Bermuda again?  Only the winner knows.



Late August Election?

Back in February I speculated that an election would be called for mid to late July.  This was primarily based upon the momentum the OBA was building and the likely euphoria that would build up over the America’s Cup.

Since then, we’ve seen the opposition push for a vote of no confidence in the middle of the America’s Cup and the opposition leader suggest he thinks the election will be late July.  The timing of the vote of no confidence, the push for an election and the animosity that comes from it is less than ideal for the island.  The opposition has seemingly pushed fully into election mode, rolling out candidates and putting out daily press releases.  They’ve seemingly ramped up fully for a late July election.  Now today Shawn Crockwell has signaled that he’d vote against the government.

Even if the no confidence motion is successful, by my estimates the Premier would still have a 3 month window to call it.  As a result, I suspect the Premier may either opt to call an election before the vote of no confidence takes place or take his chances and call one if he loses it.  Given the strength in the recent polls and the OBA’s momentum, I suspect he’d be leaning towards calling an election anyway.

I suspect the Premier will now aim for an election in late August, just before students return to school.  As far as I’m aware, the OBA has yet to deliver on their promised changes to absentee voting, thus the reason for late August vs. early September. This would allow the OBA could both publicly decry the PLP for disrupting the America’s Cup with an election as well as push their own electioneering until after the America’s Cup is over.  Since the PLP has already entered heavy campaign mode, there is also the potential that the public would readily tire after nearly 4 months of heavy campaigning.  It is also likely that the after effects of the America’s Cup would still be present in the form of euphoria of having money in ones pocket and the event potentially having been bigger than originally forecast.  Beyond that, it’s allow for statistics and reports covering the outcome of the event to be published as well as many positive stories of who benefited.

On the PLP front I’m still a bit baffled as to why they opted to push for a vote of no confidence for June.  Pitting an election right after America’s Cup seems like a bad time when the alternative could be waiting out upwards of a year for more negative fallout or controversy to capitalize on.  The unions are always good for some sort of fallout and disruption every few months.  Also if the vote of no confidence is successful, it will invalidate their pushed legislation which could come back to haunt them if people realize pre-election that marijuana wasn’t actually decriminalized and that the statutory interest rates weren’t changed.  Ultimately the upside of forcing it now seems limited and either implies they suspect the next few months won’t be in their favor or I’m missing something.

So… a late August election?  We’ll see.



How is the OBA leading in the polls if they don’t lead with black voters?

The recent poll conducted by The Royal Gazette suggested

A breakdown by race shows whites have increased their backing for the OBA, and blacks for the PLP.


Among whites, 93 per cent said they would vote OBA, up from 77 per cent; and 1 per cent would vote PLP, down from 4 per cent.


Among blacks, 63 per cent would vote PLP, up from 55 per cent; and 13 per cent would vote OBA, down from 16 per cent.

How could the OBA possibly be leading polls if they only have 13% of the black vote in a majority black country?  The problem?  Far too many people in our country only see things in black and white.

The big fat glaring omission from the Royal Gazette’s coverage of the poll was people who consider themselves neither black nor white.

For example we could use the 2010 census as a rough approximation of racial demographics which suggested nearly 15% of people in Bermuda are in the “other” category.

So when you compare only black vs. white support the results are rather confusing

The PLP clearly dominates the black support base so how could the OBA possibly be leading the polls by 6 percentage points when there is only a tiny gap between the two?

The “other” category is not included.  Thus it is wholly misleading.  So, through some approximation based upon the overall support numbers against the census racial breakdown, I’ve estimated what the vote of the “other” category would amount to.

In order for the OBA to have a 44% overall support level, the 56% of people in the “Other” category would support the OBA, with 24% supporting the PLP and 20% not expressing support for either.

If you take the census numbers and apply them to the 400 people surveyed and assume a pure random sample then roughly 215 respondents would have been black, 124 white and 58 other.

This provides a much clearer explanation.  Many black voters polled have yet to decide support either party. The OBA is successfully capturing the majority of the “Other” vote.

All too often we see things framed purely in black vs. white when it reality, there are quite a few gray areas overlooked.



The Royal Gazette has commissioned a new poll and the results are telling

The Royal Gazette has commissioned a new poll and the results are telling.  Without looking at the full picture historically it is difficult to see why these results really stand out.

The big difference in this latest poll is that both parties have largely mobilized their support bases with the number of undecideds at 18% which is the lowest level all the way back to Sep 2011. This suggests many undecided voters have solidified their views vs wait until the actual election.

A big point of note about the 2012 election was that overall 1200 fewer voters bothered to turnout vs. the 2007 election.  The message was that people weren’t interested and reflects the rise in individuals who supported neither in the polls immediately prior to the election.  People were disillusioned with politics generally and worn out by the recession with limited hope.

Leading into the 2012 election the PLP’s support had plummeted in the polls.  The result proved to be a 52% to 46% victory for the OBA.  2600 fewer voters voted for the PLP overall vs. the 2007 election while nearly 800 more voted OBA.  This was also while there was a rise over nearly 1700 in the overall number of registered voters.  The big story wasn’t that people turned out in droves to vote OBA, it was that people didn’t turn out to vote PLP.

Contrast this with the latest poll results.  The OBA’s support level of 44% is the highest OBA level of all of their poll results and represents a strong level of support.  Compared against the Dec 2012 election, the OBA’s support level has strengthened 3 percentage points above it which could translate into a higher number of votes than the 2012 election.

The PLP also has a strong showing of 38% which matches their highest numbers if you discount the odd anomaly of July 2015.  Taking the anomaly at face value, it was the next lowest level of undecideds with many having sided with the PLP.  It placed PLP support at 46%, 6 points higher than they are now.  The big question is whether these people have shifted to support the OBA or if they’re waiting until election day to finalize their opinions.

July 2015 was the only poll in the chart done by Profiles of Bermuda and there is no particular explanation that I can think of for the wild change over previous trends.  Polling is not an exact science and relies on truly random samples to provide accurate results so it could be in error or it could tell us something.

How will this affect numbers?  In 2012, 15,949 votes were cast for the OBA.  Those extra 3 percentage points above the 2012 poll numbers suggest the OBA’s support level could be higher this time around.  By contrast, in 2007 16,800 people voted PLP.  Is the OBA’s 3 points is enough to break above the PLP’s strong 2007 number or will the PLP rally enough support?

Ultimately party support breaks down as

  • Staunch supporters – will vote for their party no matter what
  • Strong Supporters – will either vote for their party or abstain, would never consider voting for the other party
  • Weak swing voters – mostly lean towards one party but would consider voting for another
  • Strong swing voters – will vote for whomever speaks to their issues

Each party looks like they’re be able to rely on their staunch supporters.  They also seem to have rallied strong supporters and we can likely expect a strong turnout in the upcoming election.  The question is who will rally the swing vote to their cause?

Chart Methodology notes:


There are 4 different companies quoted for poll results, Global Research, Total Research Associates, and Profiles of Bermuda.  Of particular note, the Jul 2015 spike for the PLP represents the only instance in the chart of polls supplied by Profiles of Bermuda.


Without getting too deep into the intricacies of survey sampling and polling methodology. Accurate surveys rely on a truly random sample of people.  Ideally, you put every registered voter’s name in a hat, pick out a percentage at random and ask their opinion.  Given a large enough percentage this would give you an accurate view of the overall population’s opinion, plus or minus a margin of error.


In the age of telephones, cellphones with caller id and the internet, it is much more difficult to get a truly random sample.  Some people don’t have telephones, others won’t answer unknown numbers.  How do you get a random sample if it is unnaturally selected based upon who answers the phone?  (This is one of the big reasons why internet and phone polls can differ quite a bit from actual results).

This is of course before getting into the whole explanation of how leading questions and push polling can influence results.  How you ask a poll question can lead people to one answer or another and give a different view when compared against a slightly different question.

These days survey companies tend to rely on polling a more limited pool of people and bias in constructing the questions can swing things.  Thus it is harder to get a random sample and the results can end up being skewed.  So, surveys are a guide much like looking at a partially completed jigsaw puzzle.  It gives you an idea of the bigger picture but if you only see pockets, you can think you see the whole picture when really you could be missing a crucial part.




What is being done that will benefit ALL Bermudians?

A friend of mine on facebook lamented the following

It makes me so sad that only the black Bermudians that see that nothing the OBA does is for the benefit of ALL Bermudians… Yes tourism is on the up, yes America’s Cup will bring tons of rich people to our island, yes we will have a new airport(at a ridiculous price) but who will benifit from it? Is Bermuda really still that divided? The sad truth is yes

I felt compelled to respond because I believe it is important to look beyond the politics and fundamentally understand that recovering our economy does benefit all Bermudians.  It doesn’t matter who is in power. It does matter that everyone understands how precarious of a position we are in and how important it is that we raise our profile.  I do my best to call it as I see it, I call the OBA out for many things I don’t agree with.  However, I do wholly agree with the need to raise our profile.  We need to attract the kinds of tourists who can afford to come here and we need to attract the kinds of investment that can create new jobs.  If we can’t do that, we simply won’t have the resources to fix the many other underlying problems we have in our society.

The problem is we’ve created a situation that is scarily unsustainable. Our economy is struggling to recover, our cost of living is leading the world and we’re so deep down the rabbit hole we can’t simply throw everyone out. We need a solid recovery that can bring us back to prosperity and that wholly relies on attracting foreign investment to create jobs and opportunity.

International business is presently in a period of consolidation and decline. We’re not seeing substantial growth or recovery. Companies are merging, getting more efficient and jobs are not being created fast enough. We don’t have a new industry and we’re struggling to attract new businesses here that create jobs and sustain our economy. We need to attract new businesses to the island. If you look at the big picture, we’re struggling. We haven’t recovered from the recession regardless of what caused it. We cannot sustain ourselves without foreign investment. We have always been reliant on foreign trade all the way back to the days of onions and ship building.

Tourism has been dead for years and for the first time in like 30 years we have actual new hotels opening. Tourism is our only second leg to stand on and its in a terrible state. If IB collapses, and it could do so from any number of factors both within and outside of our control, what alternatives do we have? We need to rebuild our tourism industry alongside attracting others.

America’s Cup may not seem like much, but it kills multiple birds with one stone. It significantly raises our profile both to potential premium tourists that can afford to visit our island and premium investors who could move or create companies here.

If you read the tourism reports, people who haven’t been to Bermuda are more likely to equate our product with Jamaica than with BVI or Cayman. People don’t know we offer a significantly different and premium experience over the Caribbean (not to suggest the Caribbean doesn’t offer great experiences, just different from ours and at a far cheaper price). In Europe I’ve met quite a few people surprised that we’re actually a real place, they literally thought Bermuda was fictional.  I’ve traveled all over the world and most people don’t have a clue about Bermuda.

We are getting world class coverage to raise our profile. 40 hours over a month an a half of images and stories of our island being told. America’s Cup is a world class event that attracts interest from all over the world.  It is the pinnacle event in sailing, a sport that our island is undeniably linked to historically.  Many more people will know about us as a result.

Yes, the airport is a ridiculous price, too extravagant and frankly I’m not convinced it is future proof enough through modularity like some of the alternative designs proposed. There are certainly valid criticisms. However, fundamentally, we’re broke. We have a very poor track record completing things on time and on budget and if we want Bermudians employed to build it, we have to do it in a way that makes money for the investors. Otherwise we could have gotten a cheap one built by the Chinese government that shipped in a ton of Chinese workers to build it and still wouldn’t have had the money to pay them to do it.

It is hard to see the big picture when so many are still struggling each and every day. There is a big divide between the haves and the have nots. Not enough is done to lift and support those at the bottom and ensure that everyone is moving forwards together at the same pace. It is hard to see that all Bermudians will benefit from a recovery in our economy when it is clear that some Bermudians are benefiting more than the rest of us. That doesn’t mean we aren’t all benefiting though.