Racism tops crime in list of concerns
Racism has overtaken crime as one of the biggest issues facing Bermuda, according to a poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette.
A surge of voters named racism as their top concern in the Global Research survey this month: 16 per cent, up from 7 per cent three months ago and 2 per cent in December 2015.
Whites and One Bermuda Alliance supporters were more likely to pick racism than blacks and Progressive Labour Party supporters, a breakdown of the results shows.
Among blacks, the economy, education and crime remain the chief three concerns; among whites, the economy is only marginally more of a concern than racism, with very few whites citing crime as their main worry.
Overall, the economy was once again the top answer, although its figure of 36 per cent is seven points down from the previous survey in November. Education came second with 24 per cent, then racism on 16 per cent, and crime fourth with 15 per cent.
The telephone survey of 401 registered voters took place between February 7 and 9, and has a margin of error of +/- 5 per cent.
It came in a sustained period of high political tension during which many have pointed to divisions in Bermuda's community.
Since the previous poll, last November, there was the major demonstration and blocking of the House of Assembly over the airport redevelopment on December 2, which culminated in protesters being pepper-sprayed by police; and protests over the refusal of a work permit renewal for the Reverend Nicholas Tweed.
On both occasions, the vast majority of demonstrators were black, while the PLP's Reply to the Throne Speech in November painted a picture of “two Bermudas” where some prosper but others suffer because of social and economic problems. Analysis of the results by race shows that, among whites, the top concern was the economy, with 30 per cent; second was racism (29 per cent), followed by education (20 per cent) and crime (7 per cent).
Among blacks, economy won more votes, with 41 per cent, and education was next with 24 per cent, followed by crime on 18 per cent and racism on 9 per cent.
Some 21 per cent of OBA supporters said racism was their main concern, compared with 13 per cent of PLP supporters.
Results from the differing age groups highlights another disparity, with the 18 to 34 bracket highlighting education as their top issue (32 per cent), and those aged 45 and over picking the economy (more than 40 per cent).
A separate question asked voters how much faith they have in the economy, with 27 per cent saying they are confident, unchanged from last November; 31 per cent said they were not confident and 40 per cent in the middle.
The survey also asked people to select which out of three specific issues requires most urgent attention.
Of the available choices, socioeconomic inequality came first, with 45 per cent, the airport redevelopment next with 43 per cent and same-sex marriage third with 12 per cent.