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OBA holds 13 point lead over PLP, poll shows

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The One Bermuda Alliance holds a 13 percent lead over the PLP, according to a poll conducted for The Royal Gazette.And the poll also shows that there could be a big turnout on Monday with 90 percent of registered voters saying they will cast a vote.The poll shows 43 percent of voters say they will vote for the opposition OBA, and 30 percent for the PLP, but almost a quarter say they do not know — or refuse to say — who they will be casting their ballot for.Independent candidates said the results reflect Bermuda’s political and racial polarisation, dissatisfaction with the political system, and vindicate their positions.But some have suggested that the survey is part of a conspiracy to influence the outcome of the elections.Research firm MindMaps interviewed a representative sample of 400 Bermuda residents of voting age between December 3 and December 10.The survey found that 77 percent of registered voters were “absolutely certain” they would vote in a parliamentary election, while 13 percent reported they were “very likely” to vote.Almost all (98 percent) of white voters reported that they were absolutely certain or very likely to vote, compared to 87 percent of black voters.White voters were also more likely (88 percent) to vote for the Opposition party, but 11 percent were unsure or refused to say.Among black voters, 46 percent said they would vote for the PLP if the election were held tomorrow, with 21 percent saying they would vote for the OBA and 30 percent unsure.The proportion of voters who say they will vote for the PLP is down by eight percentage points since September when the last survey was taken, while the OBA has seen its support dip by a slight two percentage points.The poll’s margin of error is 4.9 percent.Support for the OBA is strongest among senior citizens — with 50 percent of those aged 65 and over, and 48 percent of the 55 — 64 year olds, saying their vote will go to the Opposition party if the election is held tomorrow.But the OBA also has strong support (45 percent) among the youngest voters, 18 — 34 year olds. The PLP’s strongest support is among the 35 — 44 and 45 — 54 year olds where the likelihood of voting for the governing party is 35 percent in each age band.Thirty seven percent of 35 — 44 year olds are unsure of how they plan to vote, however.OBA chairman Thad Hollis said that the strong likelihood of voting indicates that voters want to have their say following “five years of record unemployment, failed economic policies, rising gang activity and skyrocketing national debt”.“And they indicate they are going to come out in large numbers to support the growing movement for change in Bermuda.”Mr Hollis added: “Over the last six weeks, the Government has chosen to wage a misleading, negative campaign to distract voters from its record of failed economic policies. Today’s poll shows it has not worked with support for the government dropping nearly 25 percent since the last survey. As a result, only three out of ten Bermudian voters now support this Government and its policies.“This is a clear indication that a vast and growing majority of Bermudians do not want five more years of the same lost jobs, gang violence and wasteful Government spending and borrowing.“And, as shown by continuing strong poll support for the OBA at 45 percent and 43 percent in recent polls, it is clear that Bermudians want change.”But the PLP suggested that the poll was part of an effort to influence voting."In the UBP/OBA secret plan that called for the use of ‘black surrogates’ and referred to some voters as ‘downscale’ and ‘less educated.’ They also talked about the use of ‘perceptional’ polls to try and influence people," a PLP spokesperson said."On Election Day we believe voters will remember that the PLP has stood strong for them by introducing DayCare, FutureCare, and the EEZ during the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression. We are confident that our vision for the future which includes Job Corps Bermuda, One Stop Career Centre and the Red Carpet for Returning College graduates is one that voters will embrace on Election Day."The spokesperson added: "In 2007 a Royal Gazette poll showed a UBP lead and we know how that election ended. We are confident that in 2012 the people will prove the pollsters wrong once again."Independent candidate David Tavares echoed similar sentiments. “The opinion poll in 1998, 2003 and 2007 also indicated a good chance of the UBP winning and they lost all three elections,” he said.But the results were predictable in that voters are “reassessing their options”.“They really do not care who wins, just as long as it is not the PLP,” Mr Tavares said.“Therefore, if the PLP lose, then the OBA wins by default and we are really no better off. We will still have racial division and polarisation. We must mature beyond this point in our political evolution and the unsure voter can help start the process and give their vote to the independent running in their constituency.”He added that the 30 percent of voters who are undecided hold the keys to power.“All three groups are looking to this same group of undecided voters to secure seats that will give either political party the edge and the independents the support they need to get three to five independents elected so they can move Bermuda forward by being part of Bermuda’s first coalition government.”The poll shows that a new political system which “transcends the limitations of the Westminster system” is needed and more work needs be done to get out the youth vote, added Jonathan Starling who is running independently in Pembroke South West.“Also, the large minority of undecided voters (about a quarter of the sample) should also send a message to the main parties that a significant proportion of the population is unhappy with the status quo of two-party politics, the options offered by the two-parties, and negative campaigns that they have both engaged in.”Fellow independent candidate Phil Perinchief agreed.“The results in fact confirm what the independents have been saying all along. The gridlocked two-Party system, made so primarily as a result of the first-past-the-post electoral system in particular and safe-seats generally, will continue to polarise and perpetuate our Island home along racial, geopolitical and class lines until it is replaced by an appropriate proportional representation system,” Mr Perinchief said.“Voting for an independent, and his or her diverse opinions, views etc, is a step in moving our society to a fairer democracy and away from the narrow confines of bipartisan policies and programs.”But Charlie Swan criticised the survey for including the defunct United Bermuda Party, which has no candidates in the election, as an option, and excluding independents.“First impression is that it is a. Misleading and b. Meaningless and c. Somewhat Disengenuous,” he said in an e-mail.“As MindMaps can not predict the result, and only provides a snapshot at a particular point, and then of a very small sample, its polling — with all due respect — can only be an attempt to influence behaviour.”Editor Bill Zuill said that the UBP was erroneously included in the survey, while MindMaps said that voters for independent candidates could have chosen “other” when asked who they will be voting for.“The results indicate that independents have a very small following,” said Nosheen Syed of MindMaps.Kim Swan, the former UBP leader, who is running as an independent in St George’s West would disagree.“Independent candidates whilst not featured in this poll are on the minds of many Bermudians and offer a viable alternative to the politics of division practised and readily accepted by the two main political parties in Bermuda,” Mr Swan said.“The poll reflects the sad reality that Bermuda in 2012 remains rigidly polarised based on race, with an unhealthy concentration of guaranteed safe seats unevenly divided between the two dominant parties.“Independent candidates offer the people of Bermuda to step outside their comfort zone and resist the cry to vote Party and the polarisation it breeds.”