Economy is biggest issue for voters
More than two-thirds of voters believe the economy is the most important issue facing Bermuda — and more than half of them think it’s heading in the wrong direction.
Those were among the findings in a poll by quantitative research firm Mindmaps, which also finds that the opposition One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) is seen as the party best able to bring about an economic recovery.
The Island is suffering what is likely to be a fourth successive year of recession, while ten percent of Bermudians are unemployed, according to Government statistics.
Of the registered voters polled, 69 percent saw the economy / unemployment as the most important issue facing the Island, ahead of crime (18 percent), education (three percent) and racism (two percent). All age group segments, racial categories and both genders saw the economy as their number one concern.
Fifty-six percent said they were not confident in the direction Bermuda’s economy was heading and a third of voters said they were not confident at all.
Among age groups, the youngest and the oldest were the most concerned about the economic outlook. Sixty percent of those aged 65 and over were not confident in the economy’s direction, while 59 percent of the 18-34 age group felt the same way.
While many seniors struggling on fixed incomes are concerned about soaring healthcare costs, younger people have been hit disproportionately by the unemployment problem.
More than a third of 16- to 24-year-olds are jobless, according to a Government labour survey published in October.
Men were more pessimistic about the economy’s direction than women, with 61 percent of male voters saying it was heading the wrong way, compared to 49 percent of women. This is despite the fact that the labour survey found a greater decline in the working population among women (780) than men (584).
There was a marked difference of opinion between whites, 85 percent of whom are not confident in the economy’s direction, compared to 40 percent of blacks, while 26 percent of blacks feel the economy is heading in the right direction.
The OBA enjoyed a 21-point advantage on the question of who is best able to fashion a recovery. The Opposition’s 46 percent score marked a five-point improvement from the previous Mindmaps poll in September, while the PLP’s 25 percent represented a seven-point decrease.
The races disagreed on which party would be best able to bring about economic recovery. Blacks favoured the Progressive Labour Party (38 percent) over the OBA (26 percent), while 30 percent said they did not know. Ninety percent of whites said the OBA would do a better job on the economy, while one percent favoured the PLP and nine percent did not know.
All age groups favoured the OBA on the economy, with support for the Opposition strongest among the youngest and oldest. Fifty-five percent of both the 65-plus group and the 18-34 group backed the OBA. Support for the PLP on the economy was strongest among the 55-64 age group, which scored 31 percent for the governing party.
The poll showed that 50 percent of voters are not confident in the direction Bermuda is heading, while 19 percent are. The racial difference of opinion on this issue was again stark, with 27 percent of blacks confident the Island is heading in the right direction, compared to two percent of whites.
Older people were most concerned on this score, with 54 percent of both the 65-plus group and the 55-64s confident the Island is heading in the wrong direction.
Mindmaps’ survey of 400 registered voters who said that they were likely to vote in the election was conducted between December 3 and 10. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percent.
Bermuda’s economic pain and an economist’s view of what the election victors can do to relieve it — See Business, Page 27