Both major parties are confident of victory. But which one will win? Each small party is confident of at least a seat. But will they get any? The nation looks to pollsters (like me) to open the crystal ball and say which party will win. An accurate prediction is based on scientific polling. A pollster can only offer a projection if the election will be free and fair.
Some of the most outstanding personalities in the country, from both sides of the political divide, give me their confidential views on the outcome. Ordinary voters also give their comments. Opinions varied! People are calling it a victory for either side (with the size unknown). Some even say it would be a hung parliament.
Those well informed and who conduct ongoing opinion polling and interact with officials know what will happen on elections day.
Which side has a better chance? The government has run an effective campaign talking about the future with oil revenues and seems to have collared its base; it has all related institutions on its side. The opposition has tried to make this election about the government’s record pointing to its superior record and promising a better vision for the future. Ordinarily, a government that was ousted by a no confidence motion and presided over the decline of an economy and loss of jobs would be against the wall facing the specter of defeat. It is indisputable in speaking with supporters from both sides — the government has seen its popularity drop steadily from 2016 to now. Yet it is doing quite well among its base and even has retained some cross over supporters that it got in 2015. On the flip side, Jagdeo has been able to rally back many traditional PPP supporters who abandoned the party in 2015.
Both campaigns have been impressive with their messages. There is a tit for tat, but no knockout punches delivered although there were several uppercuts that were followed by counter punches. While one side enjoyed an advantage, the other side fought back. One side did get an upper hand – incumbent always has an advantage because they control the state (and its vast resources) and have the power of the purse and has used it effectively.
As polling reveals, there is hardly any last minute vote to be obtained. People have made up their minds and a significant number won’t vote (fed up of the system) although there is a last minute scramble for votes. The last stump speeches would be delivered on Saturday but that won’t make much a difference. People are party hardened. Any floating voter not committed is likely to go for the three small parties that have a chance of a seat in their attempt to become a balancing force in parliament. But will these serve as a third or balancing force in parliament? That depends largely on the margin of victory; one major party is predicting a landslide win, meaning the third force will be wiped out.
A turnout of mid 70s, higher than last time, is expected. The government claims its poll puts it in the lead. The opposition says it did not commission a poll but that its house-to-house ground campaign puts it in the lead. Objective polls conducted by this writer find a close fight but a victory for one party. Which side registered more voters and bring them out will have the upper hand.
Regardless of which side wins, people will look back and say how did this party win?
Dr. Vishnu Bisram (Pollster)