The North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) is facing criticism for its pre-election poll, which indicated that the People’s National Movement (PNM) led the race for the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
However, pollster Dr Vishnu Bisram said some people do not understand the polls, which shows that the PNM were always in trouble in six districts.
Following Monday’s election, the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) made further inroads in Tobago’s governance, seizing four seats from the PNM. It left the THA in an unprecedented position as both parties had six members sworn into the House.
The evenness also led to members not being able to elect a presiding officer.
Following last Saturday’s polling, NACTA had indicated that the PNM led in 11 of the 12 districts. Speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, Bisram said that the findings showed that in six of the 11 seats that the PNM led, there was a narrow margin of support for the party over the PDP. In those six districts, the preference for the PNM was just above 50 per cent.
“Even though the PNM was ahead, it could not get six seats in the overall results. They were quite close, and one must credit the PDP, it did extremely well. If you look, the margin of support was narrow, and you would recognise that in two or three seats, the margin of victory for the PDP was very close, one was 19 votes and another was 54 votes,” Bisram said.
He said the forecast was for the PNM to win six seats comfortably while the other six seats were a close call. It turned out that the PNM lost all six seats where the poll found small margins.
But what changed between Saturday and Monday? Bisram said that within a few days, some people probably changed their minds. The poll also found that 4 per cent of participants were undecided.
“It could also be that people felt it could be a lopsided house, and it had to have a sense of balance.”
The NACTA poll found there was a strong feeling of anti-incumbency and Bisram said the election results showed. He said while the exact support after the election is unknown in each of the 12 seats, it appears somewhat close in all of them including the six won by the PNM.
“There is a misunderstanding of the poll, where people might believe that because a party is ahead, they feel the party would win. There is a margin of error in the support. When one speaks to the findings, it shows that when a party is well above 50 per cent; then you know for sure the party would win that seat.
When it’s between 48 and 52 per cent, it means it could be a close call. I do not think people understand that. Some are criticising; saying that the poll predicted that the PNM would win those seats, but the poll did not state the PNM would win in 11 seats. A poll is only a guide and estimate of support. It does not mean it will be exactly what the poll said.”