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Economy poll: ‘Neither party’ edges the vote

Statistician Cordell Riley at a recent Budget lecture

Voter confidence figures compiled by statistician Cordell Riley show residents increasingly disenchanted with the ability of either political party to manage the Island’s economy.

“It’s interesting that neither party comes out on top — the One Bermuda Alliance just edges past,” said Mr Riley of the survey, compared with last year’s responses.

The Profiles of Bermuda study of 407 registered voters showed three in ten, or 32 per cent, trusting the OBA with a similar number voicing faith in the Progressive Labour Party at 29.1 per cent. However, a 32.1 per cent endorsed neither party.

“Neither” was not given as an option, meaning that voters had to volunteer that response.

“They’re not seeing the economic turnaround,” Mr Riley said. “At my Budget forum recently we talked about the ‘green shoots’ being seen in the economy — those shoots can die.

“It’s still very much in the early stages and voters are not feeling the impact.

“We’ve seen an increase in retail spending, but that’s not enough. We’re seeing some construction going on at the West End, but not hundreds of people being employed, which means the average voter is not going to give an overall seal of approval.”

Mr Riley said that while the voter confidence results were not statistically significant compared with the 30 per cent who opted “neither” in the survey a year ago, the change in this year’s “neither” result might be because slightly more voters rated the economic conditions as poor in 2015 — 38.5 per cent, compared with 37.2 per cent in 2014.

Mr Riley added that younger voters between 18 and 34 were more inclined to trust the PLP’s stewardship of the economy: 42.6 per cent, compared with 37.4 per cent last year. Voters 55 and older were more inclined to trust the OBA: 38.6 per cent, compared with 37.1 per cent in 2014.

“Results by race were compelling,” Mr Riley said. “Just over six in ten of white and other voters (61.7 per cent) trusted the OBA to do a better job of handling the economy, but this figure was down significantly from three quarters (75.6 per cent) recorded in 2014. Just over four in ten black voters (42.6 per cent) trusted the PLP to do a better job with the economy, down from the 44.9 per cent recorded in 2014.”

There were no statistical differences by gender or income.

Asked if the OBA might have staked too much on the vaunted 2,000 new jobs, Mr Riley said the pre-election promise — now midway through the party’s administrative term — was problematic for the Government.

“They campaigned on turning the economy around and being better managers,” he said. “Certainly that’s what got them elected. Two and a half years on they have found it much more difficult because of events outside their control. There has been talk of another recession coming in 2015-16.”

Mr Riley said that the strength in the US dollar meant that Bermuda’s air arrivals, a key indicator for tourism’s revival, were likely to fall this year, bottoming out at 220,000.

“Historically, non-dollar destinations tend to reap rewards. We’re likely to see an increase in European tourism and to destinations south of us. Bermuda becomes less attractive,” Mr Riley noted, pointing out that Travel Weekly reported that Delta Air Lines planned to cut down on international flights because of the soaring US currency.

• For the full release, including graphic, click on the PDF file under “Related Media”.