One thing that has been shown to be accurate by the opinion poll in today's Chronic is that I was not wrong in my analysis contained in the piece "Does the GSLP/Lib Alliance have the Will to Win?" which I wrote as far back as the 21st October 2010. Reliance upon a government losing an election is not sufficient to win it. Any political party wanting to win an election must work hard at it. The GSLP/Lib alliance is simply not doing that. Whether or not one supports one or other political party is not the issue. If any political party is not at risk in an election from an opposing political party what suffers is the quality of democracy. If the quality of democracy suffers then society is all the poorer for it.
There is no doubting that the opinion poll results show the GSD ahead. There are a few facts surrounding that poll and the spin surrounding it that merit some thought and analysis, however. These are mine.
We are told that a similar sample of face to face interviewees was polled on this occasion as was polled in April 2010, when the Chronic undertook its last poll that so much favoured the GSLP/Lib alliance. I am sure that this is true but what we are not told is how the sample of interviewees was selected on either occasion. Why is this important and relevant? Quite simply because if the sampling is not done scientifically, the results of any consequent opinion poll can be skewed in one direction or the other. It is generally known that some polling stations favour one party rather than the other. If the sample is chosen, in the main, from a polling station catchment area that favours the GSLP/Lib alliance then the poll result are more likely to show a result that favours the alliance. The opposite is also true.
Without knowing how the sample was chosen there is no way of assessing how accurate either this poll or the one undertaken in April 2010 was, save for one factor. A month after the April 2010 opinion poll Panorama published a poll, the results of which closely resembled the April 2010 Chronic poll. Anecdotally, this would be indicative of the accuracy of the Chronic April 2010 poll, especially as the Panorama poll samples from all polling station catchment areas and more closely follows the anonymity of an election by using the postal services. We will see if Panorama now carries out another opinion poll.
The Chronic goes some way to attempt, self consciously, to explain the enormous (and most unusual and uncharacteristic, in such a short period) swing in favour of the GSD that has so drastically gone against the GSLP/Lib alliance. One statement it makes is that "Six months is a lifetime in politics". This is a taken from Harold Wilson's famous statement that "a week in politics is a long time" and so it is. I do not believe that the factors that the Chronic points to in justification of the massive swing support the contention that a lifetime has gone by in the last 6 months. Where I fully agree with the Chronic is on the failings of the GSLP/Lib alliance that I highlight in the opening paragraph of this piece.
Another point of contention that I have with the Chronic is its assertion that one should discount the "don't knows" because these are excluded in an election. This is a false assertion. In an election there are no "don't knows". There are "don't votes". There are people that do not vote at elections, which is different. No one was asked in this poll "will you or will you not vote", that is a completely different proposition to someone who says "don't know who I will vote for when the election comes round".
"Won't votes" are not the same as "don't knows" in an opinion poll. "Don't knows" have been asked but do not wish to commit at that particular moment. Many of them are likely to vote in an election. The reasons why the "don't knows" poll in that way are many and varied but many of these people are open to be convinced to vote one way or another at an election. It is these votes that are considered to be the floating vote that can so easily change the course of an election. It is these votes that each of the parties are fighting for during an election campaign and prior to it in two senses first to get them to vote and second to have them vote for your party. The other voters are already decided.
Mathematically the GSD, on this last poll, are 8% ahead. This lead can be eaten up in a trice from the "don't knows". Many "don't knows" are shy because they may not wish to identify that they would not vote GSD. There is more likelihood that an opposition party will pick up the "don't knows" than a governing party. Although this is far from being a given and its is these votes that have to be hard fought. The GSLP/Lib alliance are not fighting hard enough.