CADRES Poll: ULP still favoured to win General Elections
August 27, 2010
CADRES Poll: ULP still favoured to win General Elections

Barbadian pollster Peter Wickham told SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday, August 24, that the November 25 Referendum was a setback for the incumbent Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration, but he still thinks at this stage the party is well placed{{more}} to form Government again whenever general elections are called.

Wickham, Principal Director of CADRES (Caribbean Development Research Services Inc.), said this is based on two surveys carried out by his organization in February and July of this year, in six marginal seats, which he declined to name.

When asked who commissioned CADRES to do the polls, Wickham refused to divulge any information about the client.

“The entity that has paid for both of them has given me permission to speak generally about both exercises,” said Wickham, noting that the client wants to remain anonymous.

“That is the instructions that I have; they prefer to remain anonymous. My company’s policy is that if a client identifies himself that’s fine, but we have to respect our client’s wish,” said Wickham.

Wickham told SEARCHLIGHT had the general elections been called in February, based on the survey, it appears to him the situation would have been no different to the situation before the 2005 general elections, which he also polled.

“I am suggesting that the Unity Labour Party is no worse off now than it was just before the previous elections was called,” said Wickham.

He noted that based on the information gathered, the potential losses for the ULP would be in the range of five seats. The ULP currently holds 12 seats while the Opposition New Democratic Party holds three.

Wickham said going into the general elections, the ULP has a natural advantage over the other political parties because it successfully secured the largest number of votes since 1998.

“A significant thing, however, now is that those voters are divided into two categories: the absolute loyalists and the persons who support the party, but may be less enthusiastic and more discerning about the vote,” said Wickham. He estimated the latter to be in the region of about 10 per cent.

He said the ULP faces the political question: ‘Can the party motivate the 10 per cent supporters who did not vote for them in the referendum to support them in the upcoming general elections?’

He said another important issue is whether these persons were just not interested in voting in the referendum or are they just not politically motivated at this stage period?

Wickham contended that the survey suggested that these persons will still be politically motivated to support the ULP.

“At the same time, however, they were not interested in voting in the Referendum for reasons which I cannot go into in any great detail.”

Quizzed about how he was able to arrive at the 10 per cent figure of ULP supporters who did not vote for the party during the Referendum, Wickham said: “That’s basically what it works out to. When you look at the numbers for the Referendum, when you look at the numbers in the last elections, [when] you look at the numbers in terms of the survey and party support, it’s clear that its about ten per cent of ULP supporters that basically withheld their support, stayed at home.”

“I am seeing full participation from the NDP. I am seeing participation by ULP supporters that fell short in many instances. These essentially would be the people that will make a difference in an election campaign,” said Wickham.

Wickham said the survey carried out in February was of a general nature. He noted that it examined the failure of the Referendum and sought to understand if it would have any political implications.

On the other hand, the July survey concentrated on conducting specific investigations in the constituencies to see what was the current political state. This survey, he said, concentrated on looking at representation, satisfactory representation, who would you vote for if elections were called tomorrow and satisfactory leadership.

Also when asked how many persons were surveyed in both polls, Wickham said: “I don’t want to get into the actual numbers of the people that were surveyed or the percentages or anything like that.

“I have a sense of how many people need to be interviewed nationally and also locally in order to make a determination as to what the outcome is likely to be, and this is something that has been more or less perfected over the years,” said Wickham.

When SEARCHLIGHT contacted Senator Julian Francis, General Secretary of the ULP, he said CADRES had done work for his party in the past, but he did not confirm whether the ULP had commissioned the recent polls. Vynette Frederick, Public Relations Officer of the NDP, told SEARCHLIGHT as far as she knows, the NDP did not commission the CADRES polls. Frederick noted if the party did, the public relations unit is not aware of it. (HN)