While most polls showed the race to be between the PNM and COP, one polling outfit, NACTA showed it to be a PNM-UNC A race, with only marginal support for COP. For this, NACTA was attacked by COP, and claims were made of links between Vishnu Bisram of NACTA and Ramesh Maharaj of the UNC A. Bisram is now asking for an apology:
Vishnu Bisram, the man behind the NACTA poll which has accurately predicted the outcome of General Elections since 1995, yesterday called for an apology from those who had attacked his integrity as a pollster during this year’s elections race.
“They owe me an apology,” Bisram said in a statement yesterday, noting that his “character and integrity” had been attacked by various parties. “I feel vindicated that the results have borne out what the NACTA poll predicted.”
Unfortunately for NACTA, the overall result was only part of their prediction. They also predicted the split of the popular vote:
“So overall,” the poll concluded, “the battle for control of the government is between the PNM and UNC A with COP making the difference in several seats and also having an outside chance of picking up a few seats.
Both the PNM and UNC A have seen a dip in their support from the last election. The PNM is projected to win about 43 percent, UNC A 35 percent and COP 19 percent of the popular votes.
The stated margin of error was “between four and six percent”. If this is correct, then the margin of victory of not only the marginal seats, but also many of the core UNC seats, was smaller than could have been detected by the NACTA pollsters.
If the NACTA poll had captured an accurate picture of the views of the electorate in these seats, they would have come up as “toss ups”. Results within the margin of error are impossible to interpret. The only way to square the NACTA poll with the actual result of the election was if there was a swing of more than 10 points away from the UNC A in the last days of the election campaign. It’s also possible for a polls to create their own reality. It’s obvious from the UNC A’s campaign that they were playing on concerns that “vote splitting” would allow the PNM to win. That factor alone would probably drive undecided voters to break for the UNC A. The idea that there was a 10-point swing swing toward COP isn’t credible. It’s far more likely that NACTA did help create the perception that COP couldn’t win, and push voters toward the UNC A.
NACTA vindicated? Not by these data.