Tuesday 17th April, 2018 –The political scientist whose Cadres Poll predicted a win for the Antigua/Barbuda Labour Party ahead of the last general election is crediting the party for increasing its vote share.
In a post election analysis, Peter Wickham described the increased vote share as “impressive, notwithstanding the fact that it polled fewer votes.”
The ABLP’s 2% swing Wickham outlined puts the government on the brink of a 60% level of support which is seldom recorded regionally. “Moreover the 2018 swing compares favourably with the UPP’s first term swing of -8% in 2009 although it is well-below that of the ALP’s previous first-term election in 1980.”
According to the pollster Antigua and Barbuda is somewhat different to the region in that governments have changed here less frequently; however the general trend is that governments lose support after their first term and this is not the case with this 2018 election which puts the Brown Administration in a good light historically.
So what does it mean for the ruling party? Peter Wickham said it could imply that the ABLP had an effective campaign and improved their standings or that the UPP had an ineffective campaign which had an opposite effect. It should also be noted he said that the DNA polled 5% nationally in the survey and while no attempt was made to estimate the DNA’s support in the poll, the assumption is that it would also have benefited from some of the uncommitted vote which it ultimately did not. As such the implication here is that the DNA’s campaign was not successful as more support was promised in February 2018 than that which materialized in March 2018.
As for voter turnout, Wickham observed that at 77% it was not low considering the turnout in Grenada (73%) and the national average of 71% since1951. There was an overall increase of 7% in the number of persons registered according to the Barbadian pollster, accompanied by a reduction in the national voter turnout of 15% (over 2014). The sharpest decline was witnessed in Rural West one of the largest constituencies. Barbuda had the smallest reduction in turnout accompanied by the largest increase in registrations which. Mention was also made of St Phillip South which is a small constituency that recorded one of the smallest changes in voter participation.
Peter Wickham also examined party support where he detailed that “generally, the leader of a party inherits the strongest level of support, which should have been further exaggerated by the fact that the Leader was a sitting MP. In this instance; however, the UPP’s Leader did not prevail and while the UPP lost 5% of its support, the DNA only inherited 4%, while the ABLP captured 1%. This demonstrates some small growth in support for the ABLP (1%) but also implies that UPP supporters in All Saints East and St Luke who had challenges with Massiah’s defection preferred to remain at home, instead of voting UPP or DNA.
Therefore, what appears as though it is a growth in popular support is essentially the impact of people opting to remain at home which effectively allows the ABLP’s support base to appear larger (by 1%), although less people voted for it in numerical terms.