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.


#WhereDidTheJobsGo? – Health care and government most stable fields

So continuing our series of using excel voodoo (aka VLOOKUP) to take a look at where jobs the jobs went, let’s take a look at what jobs losses looked like across industries.

Unfortunately the data to break things down by Bermudian vs. non-Bermudian isn’t available so we’ll just look at jobs overall

How about construction?

Clearly this stands out as the industry that faced the most pain of the recession.  We overheated the economy and ultimately construction demand dried up causing the very painful loss of nearly 2000 jobs.

International business and associated business services have also had a painful slide with slight indications of recovery in 2014-2015.

It is too bad we don’t have a picture of pre-2008 due to the change in the occupational categories as it might give us more insight into what things looked like before and afterwards.

Then we can see retail, hotels and transport were all hard hit, likely especially due to the recession.  Restaurants seemed to hold steady.

Let’s move on to the growth sectors of the last few years.

Education, Healthcare and Social work was one of the few places that saw job growth. Perhaps unsurprisingly as Bermuda was increasingly encumbered with unemployed people needing assistance.

Oh, and government…


Black Executives: A Bermudian Disparity

When we last examined the hard numbers for Black Executives in the Bermudian workforce, we noted how statistics of Black Executives were wildly skewed by the largely white non-Bermudian workforce.  This led us to examine in greater depth Bermudians only in the analysis of levels of employment data so that we could get a more representative picture.  This  subsequently left us with the questions of how well represented blacks are in various levels of the Bermudian workforce when compared to Bermudian demographics.

So we left off by looking at the levels of employment by Race and Bermudian Status from the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality’s Annual Review of the Workforce Survey (ARWS) Report of 2006.

This gives us a good picture of present representation of blacks and whites in the workforce at various levels of employment.  In order to better compare this to present Bermudian demographics, lets again review data from the ARWS Report which suggests that, in 2006, 72% of the Bermudian workforce was black, 21% was white and 7% was Mixed/Other.

Initially, just by looking at these numbers we can note how blacks are over-represented in the non-professional category and underrepresented in all others.  Yet this doesn’t give a clear picture without a better understanding of the actual hard numbers in each category so lets look at the actual numbers of Bermudians for each level of the workforce.

Here’s the dame data as above, simply represented in another way so we get a clear idea of the representation in percentages.

Percentages, however, don’t tell the whole picture.  The whole picture is much better represented when you start comparing the hard numbers to get an idea of how many non-professionals there are vs. the other levels of employment.


Suddenly it becomes much more clear how a 5% difference from the Bermudian demographic of 72% of blacks in the workforce can add up to such wide ranging disparities in the other categories.  Indeed, in order for the various levels of employment to match Bermudian workforce demographics, 680 of the 13033 non-professionals would need to be white instead of black, 209 of the 3479 non-managerial would need to be black instead of white, as with 103 of the 940 middle managers, 285 of the 1186 senior managers and 109 of the 350 executives who would each also need to be black instead of white.

However, let’s not be racist by pretending that the mixed/other category doesn’t matter and recognize that there is a 2% under-representation in the executive category equating to some 7 whites that should be mixed/other.

So now that we’ve identified the hard numbers with regards to the racial disparities between Bermudians in the various levels of the workforce we’re now prepared to pursue our next question:  what is the cause of these disparities?

Black Executives: The ex-factor

Before we got sidetracked with some weak humour, we were exploring the hard numbers for black executives.  When we last left off, we were asking the question of how non-Bermudians impact the statistics that measure the level of employment on a racial level.

Here’s what we examined, the stat for Level of Employment by Race in 2006 from the Commission for Unity and Racial Equality’s Annual Review of the Workforce Survey Report of 2006.

As suggested, it’s a startling stat, up until you realize that this isn’t a Bermudian only statistic because non-Bermudian racial demographics are included.

Thankfully, CURE has also been tracking and publishing statistics of Levels of Employment by Race since 2004 so a more telling picture is available.  So, what is the real picture of Level of Employment by Race amongst Bermudians alone?

Ah, does this give a better picture?    Suddenly whites no longer dominate Senior and Executive management and the numbers make a bit more sense as the disparities between the race are less drastic and closer to Bermudian demographics.  While there is much more to be explored in this chart such as it’s implications of racial equality amongst Bermudians in the workforce and the causes thereof, let’s not get sidetracked just yet.

So, now lets look at the demographics of non-Bermudians in the workforce by Level of Employment.

Woah!  Whites dominate every level of non-Bermudian employment.  But wait, is that really shocking?  Let’s take a rough guess at the countries that are most likely to contribute non-Bermudian workers to Bermuda.  Are they most likely to be Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom?  Lets run with this assumption and subsequently examine their racial demographics.

According to the 2001 Canadian Census, 83% of the total population of Canada claimed they are white and only 2% claiming black.

According to the 2006 American Community Survey, 73% of American’s are white and 12.4% are Black.

According to the 2001 UK Census, 92.2% of UK citizens are white and only 2% are black.

So, if the most likely places that our International Businesses are to pull workers from are countries with white majorities is it really surprising that non-Bermudian level’s of employment are white dominated?  This when non-Bermudian demographics actually already appear to be representative of the racial demographics of the countries from which non-Bermudians originate?

Is it then right that we spend our time focusing on levels of employment by race overall when they are inherently skewed by non-Bermudian demographics?  Perhaps we shouldn’t be allowing the expatriate factor to skew our statistics when our focus should be on two core goals:

  • achieving racial equality amongst Bermudians
  • gradually decreasing our reliance on foreign workers


This raises new questions:

  • How representative are levels of employment by race of Bermudian demographics when only looking at Bermudians?
  • What are the likely causes for present disparities between the Bermudian races and what potential solutions are there?
  • Does the draft workforce equity legislation adequately address the two core goals stated above?

Black executives: The hard numbers

Back in October I expressed disappointment at the poor statistical analysis of the decline in the ratio of Black executives in the workforce.  Subsequently, I’ve done some digging and discovered that the Commission for Unity and Racial Equity produced the comprehensive, non-spin based, numbers I was looking for.

As part of the Annual Review of the Workforce Survey Report 2006, here is the depiction of the Level of Employment by race for 2006.

As quoted by Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Wayne Perinchief, the rate of black executives indeed did  decline from 29% in 2005 to 27% in 2006.  In my piece, I questioned whether the hard actual number of black executives increased or decreased.  Studying the actual numbers, the number of black executives overall decreased from 173 in 2005 to 159 in 2006.

However, it is interesting to note that in 2004, the percentage of black executives was 27%, some 154, which suggests that if you compare 2004 to 2006, the percentage was the same and yet there was an increase of 5 black executives.

Interesting.  Lets dig a little bit further back as data was collected in 2003 and 2002 wasn’t it?  Well, in 2003, the percentage of black executives in the workforce was 21%, however, the number of black executives was 203.    In 2002?  The percentage of black executives in the workforce was 22% with the overall number being at 217.

So, we’ve had over the years a gradual decrease in the number of executives overall, black executives included, however, the percentage of black executives has been generally trending upwards indicating that despite the wild claims of some, international business may well be doing it’s part in promoting blacks in the workforce.  Though, of course, all we really care to focus on is the one year drop from 29% to 27% in 2006 rather than focusing on the data that has been available for 5 years, right?

Now, here’s the real kicker.  While digging through the actual hard numbers I discovered that ‘black executives’ isn’t the same as ‘black Bermudian executives’ in CURE’s statistics.  I’ve realised that I was making the incorrect assumption that CURE statistics was dedicated to promoting equality between Bermudians in the workforce.  However, this was not the case as CURE was originally studying race overall including Bermudians and non-Bermudians in their reports. From 2004 on, statistics have been improved to give breakdowns of employment levels by race and Bermudian status, which presents a far different picture.  This leads me to a whole new question, how are non-Bermudian’s being worked into the justification for why workforce equity legislation as it exists in it’s draft form is necessary and should they be non-Bermudians be included when calculating whether black Bermudians have fair representation in our workforce?

More on this with greater investigation of the real hard numbers to come, as time allows.