Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony has announced that St. Lucian’s will go to the polls on the 6th of June and naturally there has been considerable interest generated in the likely outcome. Against this background, CADRES conducted a public opinion poll which is representative of the views and opinions of St. Lucians across all 17 consistencies. The survey was conducted between the 20th and 23rd May 2016 approximately 1,000 persons were interviewed face to face by a team of interviewers. The margin of error for this poll is +/-5% which is consistent with other surveys conducted by CADRES in St. Lucia and across the region.
Respondents were asked to indicate the issue of greatest concern to them at this time and the majority were concerned about employment (40%), while the economy was the second most popular concern (20%) and health care was the third (12%). It is important to note the disaggregated data for this question which isolates the respondents who refused to state their voting intention and have been categorised as “Uncertain Voters”. These persons are likely to determine the outcome of the election and it can be seen that their concerns are in-line with those of all St. Lucians. Among the “Uncertain Voters,” the single largest concern was employment (43%).
One of the most critical findings of this survey is the fact that there is at this time a statistical dead-heat between the governing SLP and the opposition UWP with the SLP recording 34% and the UWP securing 33% of the committed vote share. Some 3% of respondents promised to support independent candidates; however, it should be noted that this survey was conducted one-week ago when there was an anticipation of greater independent participation than that which materialised on nomination day. The remaining 30% of respondents were categorized as “Uncertain Voters”.
The size of the uncertain vote is clearly large enough to impact on the outcome of the election therefore attention needs to be paid to several details of the poll which provide a clue to the possible outcome. Significant among these details is the swing analysis which estimates the likely outcome in terms of party support based on the historic support levels of both parties. CADRES has employed this prediction tool with considerable accuracy in the past and on this occasion the projected support levels at this time would give the SLP 51% and the UWP 49% which would be a swing of +1.7% for the UWP and -0.4% away from the SLP.
Another key indicator of the likely outcome is leadership preference and in this regard respondents were asked to identify the person they would prefer to lead them at this time and here also there is a statistical dead-heat between the leaders of the SLP and UWP. 31% of respondents would prefer to be led by Dr Kenny Anthony and 28% of respondents preferred Mr. Allan Chastanet. CADRES conducted a similar survey in October of 2015 and at that time Anthony was also preferred by 31% while Chastanet was preferred by 19% of respondents. The comparative analysis of these two data sets demonstrate that Chastanet’s popularity increased by about 50% in the 8-month period between these surveys, while Anthony’s has remained constant. These data were further disaggregated to reveal the preferences of “Uncertain Voters” and this analysis reveals the fact that Anthony has lost more than half of his support among these voters while Chastanet has doubled his support among uncommitted voters.
The other key indicators explored were the desires to change the government and leader at this time and in this regard the single largest quantity of persons interviewed in May of 2016 expressed the desire to change the government. 55% of St. Lucians and 56% of “Uncertain Voters” wanted a change of government, while 56% of both categories of voters wanted a change of leader at this time.
While maintaining that the election is at this time “too close to call” CADRES does acknowledge that the incumbent appears to have a momentary advantage, while the opposition seems to have momentum, both of which could be a factor in the remaining days of campaigning. As such, CADRES is in the process of conducting constituency based polls in the areas that are likely to determine the outcome of the election.