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, Mindmaps.bm 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.

 

What will happen if the vote of no confidence is successful?

What happens if a vote of no confidence is held and is successful?  Let’s take a look at the constitution.

Interestingly, a vote of no confidence affects the Premier and not the legislature itself.  By my interpretation, it does not automatically mean parliament is dissolved and an election is called.

An option is provided to consult with the Premier and dissolve the legislature if the vote of no confidence is successful.

If parliament is not dissolved, the Governor would determine if a member of the house of assembly commands the confidence of the majority of the members of the house.

If no member is found who commands the confidence of the majority then parliament may be dissolved at the discretion of the Governor.

If the legislature is dissolved, an election shall be held within three months.

Scenarios

1. The vote of no confidence succeeds, the Premier does not request and the governor opts to not dissolve parliament and an new Premier is appointed.

In this case, given the current minority government, the only likely outcome would be for the independents to side with the opposition leader and have him appointed as Premier. The PLP would still be required to hold an election by May of 2018 in this case.

2. The vote of no confidence succeeds, the Premier requests that parliament be dissolved and an election is to be held within 3 months.

If the vote were to take place this week then the election would have to be held by late August.

Observations

The ultimate decision whether to dissolve parliament is entirely up to the governor.  The Governor “may” dissolve parliament.  The Governor may opt to not dissolve parliament if it is not seen in to be in the best interests of Bermuda.

The date of the election in the case where the Premier requested that parliament be dissolved would be set on the advice of the Premier as long as it is within 3 months.

 

 

Cannabis and late fees. This is what the PLP used their free pass on?

Of all the legislation that could have been brought forth, the PLP opted for pushing cannabis reform and reducing late fees.  Cannabis reform is inevitable and at this stage it is nothing more than a political football.  The statutory interest rate adjustment seemingly only impacts interest rates where none are defined by contract, in essence, late fees. It seems people are largely confusing the statutory interest rate with mortgage rates when they don’t seem to be the same.  So of all the legislation that could have been brought forth to take advantage of the minority government, why these?  Is it purely playing politics or is there more to it that isn’t apparent?

All the PLP has done by pushing cannabis reform is race ahead to be the ones who can claim credit for implementing it.  Let’s be frank, the OBA have dragged their feet on it and the PLP caught them off guard by introducing their own bill in January.  The OBA’s response of “oh, we’re already working on it” was seemingly an effort to save face.  The OBA’s subsequent tabling of their own decriminalization bill that the opposition wasn’t made aware of was facepalm worthy.  Cannabis reform is certainly important, but is it really so important that it needs to be rushed thorough when both parties seemingly already support it vs. other possible pieces of legislation?

Then there’s the statutory interest rate adjustment.  People seem to be getting excited thinking that this will impact mortgage rates.  Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I don’t see how they’re related.  The statutory interest rate as defined in the Interest and Credit Charges (Regulation) Act 1975 seems to only apply to interest rates charged in the case of where one was not stipulated in a contract.  In layman’s terms, if you hire me to mow your lawn and then you take months to pay me and we didn’t stipulate our contract what late fees would apply, then the statutory interest rate applies.  I can’t find any correlation between mortgage rates and the statutory interest rates as mortgage rates are clearly defined by contract. To be honest, I’m rather confused what the benefits are of this being changed. Thus, why is this legislation so important vs. all other possibilities?  People seem to be very excited thinking this will bring down mortgage rates when that doesn’t appear to be the case.

When the OBA ended up with a minority government I saw it as a great opportunity.  It was the PLP’s chance to demonstrate better governance by pushing forward crucial legislation.  As an example, strengthening good governance like forcing fixed term elections or right of recall of MPs, two promises the OBA have yet to deliver on and don’t look terribly likely to do.  Perhaps borrowing limits or deficit restrictions if they wanted to send a clear message that they mean to chart a new course different from their spendthrift ways of the past.  There were so many possibilities of what the PLP could have pushed through to demonstrate that they’re a new and different party ready to lead the country. How is pushing through cannabis reform and changing the statutory interest rate among them?  If anything, these changes seem highly politically motivated, quite possibly capitalizing on people’s ignorance to claim a win on cannabis reform and the mistaken belief that mortgage rates would come down.  What is missing here?  Why are these pieces of legislation the ones the PLP chose to push before all others?