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Pollster defends PNM findings

By by asha javeed asha.javeed@trinidadexpress.com

Solution by Simulation pollster Nigel Henry has defended two polls conducted by his organisation on the People’s National Movement (PNM) internal elections to University of the West Indies (UWI) political analyst Dr Winford James.
The polls which were conducted from November 21-25 and in January from the 13-15 conclude that if a general election was held, the PNM would be victorious over the People’s Partnership with a Pennelope Beckles-led PNM winning by a greater margin than the party’s political leader Dr Keith Rowley.
It did not address who would be victorious in the party’s internal elections to be held on May 18, but former Senate president Danny Montano had told the Express they were used as a guide to inveigle Beckles to challenge Dr Rowley for leadership of the party.
Henry, in an open letter sent to James on February 14, noted comments made by the political analyst on I95.5FM that he “could not believe that a reputable pollster” would “predict” an election outcome 16 months in advance.
Henry has established a track record—his polls successfully predicted the outcome of the four elections last year—the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections, the two by-elections in Chaguanas West and St Joseph and the Local Government elections.
He clarified that the polls were commissioned and asked voters the question of who they would support “if an election were held today”.
“Any serious public opinion research scientist or pollster would tell you that their research measures public opinion at the time that the poll is conducted,” he said.
“As you correctly point out, the closer the ‘snapshot’ is to the day of the election, the more likely the poll will approximate the election result. Some therefore treat a pollster’s results in the final days before an election as the pollster’s ‘predictions’. However, it is really the job of political scientists and political commentators like yourself to make predictions. The polls, or perhaps more importantly the trend in polls can be used with other relevant information to make predictions. But there can be no trend without tracking,” Henry wrote to James.
Henry noted that the polls help understand the political dynamics of human behaviour, they serve a practical purpose as it allows “persons in the political space to research the current political realities with a view towards the future before investing their time, money, reputations and opportunities” and they serve a role in the democratic process.
The Sunday Express was unable to contact James for his comments on the letter yesterday.
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