Wants to see regular political polls

| 23/01/2018

In the US and UK (and presumably most other countries) there are companies that organise, collect and then subsequently distribute general polls on specific issues and policy within the government, one of the major things in my mind that is missing from Cayman (except for specific polls done leading up to elections). Are there any reputable polling institutions on island that could perhaps be persuaded to start doing monthly or bi-monthly polls for the interests of the public? (Government approval ratings, policy proposals such as cruise berthing, and suggestions for areas that need attention, etc.) While I understand having a large portion of the population be here on a temporary basis may skew the results on certain issues, surely there must be some way to focus on the will of the electorate. We all know the government hates referendums but short of that we have no way to indicate our opinions in the time between elections.

Auntie’s answer:  I’m going to start with the question you haven’t asked but is more pertinent: Who would pay for such polls? Professional polls require reliable methodology to collect and collate data, and human beings to do that collecting and collating while being properly supervised (very important so you don’t get skewed data). All of that is very time consuming and therefore expensive — and you are suggesting that this should be done on a very regular basis.

As you note, opinion polls/surveys are conducted by politicians and parties in the run-up to elections, and there have been other polls done here in the Cayman Islands for other reasons. While some may hire professional pollsters from outside the Cayman Islands, I know that some of the local marketing companies have conducted polls. The common factor is that someone wanted such information and they paid someone to get it.

So, we’d all like to know the government’s approval ratings and public opinion on their favourite policies, but who would pay for that? The government might, but if it’s negative they’re hardly likely to share it. I have to say, I can’t think of any independent organisation who would be willing to plough all that money into such a venture, and I cannot see any financial returns from it. If any readers can, they’re welcome to chime in.

The Economics and Statistics Office conducts a number of very important surveys, such as the Labour Force Survey and the Population Census (see the full list here), but I don’t believe that’s really what you are looking for.

And local news organisations, including CNS, conduct online polls from time to time, which can be a useful snapshot of public opinion, but these are not scientific surveys because there is no way to ensure that they are answered by a proportional cross-section of society. I can’t speak for other media houses but I can tell you that we certainly don’t have the resources to do or to commission professional scientific polls.

Perhaps one or both of the local universities might be persuaded to do the occasional poll as an intellectual exercise, but even if they did, I doubt it would be done at the frequency you suggest.

Basically, from the way you phrased the question, I just don’t think you understand the enormity of the task you are suggesting. So, yes, it could be done but no, it probably won’t be.

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Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (2)

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  1. Diogenes says:

    Would it be that hard?
    Most of the medium sized polls that I see in relation to larger countries, involve at most calling around 1000 people of different backgrounds to get a feel for the electorate

    Cayman has a considerably smaller population surely you could call 250-500 people and collect the data, depending on the level of accuracy that is desired, and a small margin of error

    even if they are done on the constituency level the average population of registered voters per constituency is somewhere around 1000 persons
    Out of that how many would you need to poll to get an accurate display of the trends 100? 150?

    Auntie: If you think that it should be done and you don’t think it would be that hard, then do it. I’m serious and not trying to be facetious.

    • Diogenes says:

      I am honestly considering it, but not exactly sure how I would go about getting contact information without which I would have to go door to door or ask random persons
      The Voter data is readily available, but that only provides names and addresses (and I’m not trying to harass people at their homes)
      Also I wouldn’t have anywhere to publish them, in a professional and reputable manner

      I will certainly continue to do research on the topic however thanks, Auntie

      CNS: If I were you I would reach out to UCCI and/or ICCI to see if they’ll help you. It’s pretty easy to set up your own website these days – GoDaddy is a good start – and if you send the link to the local media, I’m sure they’ll use the info. Good luck with this. It’s a worthy goal.