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Jan 29, 2008

New poll has P.U.P. in the lead

Story PictureFor the last few years the conventional wisdom, based on the results of municipal elections and reinforced by various public opinion polls, has the Peoples United Party as a definite underdog in the upcoming general elections. But a new poll, taken over the weekend and released this morning turns that expectation upside down. News Five’s Stewart Krohn reports on the numbers and how they were produced.

Stewart Krohn, Reporting
University of Belize professor Joseph Iyo may have been hedging his bets but the numbers generated by a poll organised by he and Galen University’s Marion Cayetano indicate that the Peoples United Party will be returned to office for an unprecedented third term. According to the two academics, forty-eight point nine percent of voters sampled will vote P.U.P. while forty-two point seven will opt for the United Democratic Party. The remaining eight percent will be divided among the minor parties, notably the N.R.P. and V.I.P. The results run counter to previous polls conducted by SPEAR which gives the U.D.P. twenty-five point seven percent to the P.U.P.’s seventeen point five percent with the rest either undecided or not wishing to respond. According to Iyo, their methodology differed significantly from SPEAR polls and that it relied on personal visits by data collectors, not telephones which favoured higher income voters and illicit a lower response rate.

Dr. Joseph Iyo, Professor, University of Belize
“Based n the cultural and sociological background of Belize, we prefer what we have done. This is not designed to counter SPEAR. This is designed to test as you say, we teach. We teach students how to do this but have only one organization doing it constantly. Based of even the information from the data collectors, a lot of people who probably refused to do one did it because they felt … from the university they are not called, they are not going to do some trick. We don’t know but the response rate was so higher than we suspecting that because they thought we didn’t want to do anything shady.”

The sample size of the Iyo/Cayetano poll with eleven hundred and eight voters was also larger than the SPEAR poll, giving the researchers a high level of confidence in the results.

Dr. Joseph Iyo
“Based on the size of our sample and on the high response rate, upon calculation we have found a confidence level of about more than the normal ninety-five percent we have in the threshold of ninety-seven percent. Our margin of error is around three percent.”

But confidence aside, the results provided some real surprises. In the Corozal District, traditionally a P.U.P. stronghold, the poll has the U.D.P. ahead by over eleven points. And in Toledo, where other polls show a strong opposition, the P.U.P. is given more than a twenty percent lead. In Orange Walk the P.U.P. is ahead fifty-four to thirty-eight percent with seven point five for the N.R.P. The N.R.P. looks even better in Cayo, polling almost eleven percent, with under five for the V.I.P. The U.D.P. is running ahead in Cayo forty-four point five to thirty-eight point three over the P.U.P. In Stann Creek the P.U.P. leads fifty-one point five to forty-five point three while in the Belize District that gap widens to fifty-three – forty-three with around three and half points for the V.I.P. Between thirty-three and forty people in each constituency filled out sample ballots, which were marked in private and placed in a locked box. The two men say they financed the polling effort entirely from their own resources and their intentions are scientific, not political.

Dr. Joseph Iyo
“If I am found wrong I will apologize, learn a lesson and develop new hypothesis but if I don’t do that then knowledge will never be had,”

The poll was taken over the weekend of January twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh. Stewart Krohn for News Five.

Iyo and Cayetano were careful to point out that while they are each employed by their respective universities, the poll was organised by them as individuals and has no connection with or sponsorship from U.B. or Galen.

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