The results of a poll released by the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) suggest that if a snap election were called today, the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) is likely to retain power.
Of the people polled, 36 percent said they would vote for the ABLP; 24 percent said they would vote for the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) while 5 percent said they would vote for the electorally untested Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
While just one percent of those polled said that they would not vote if an election were called, a combined 34 percent were either unwilling to say or undecided on the question of which party they would support.
According to the document released by Peter Wickham, CADRES director, late Friday evening, “approximately 800 face-to-face interviews were conducted in all 16 constituencies” in Antigua between February 2 and 5.
It concluded that if the 34 percent of those who indicated no political preference were to vote how they have voted historically then the ABLP would be able to gather more of the undeclared and undecided support.
The opinion poll sought answers to three questions, these being the respondents’ key national concern, respondents’ preferred candidate for prime minister, and which political party respondents would vote for in a general election.
Asked about the credibility of the poll, Wickham said Friday evening, “Judge this work against other work that has been done by CADRES. It is as credible as any other we have done in the past. We stand by all our information here and regionally.”
On the question of preferred prime minister, the candidates presented to those polled were Members of Parliament (MPs) Gaston Browne, Joanne Massiah, Baldwin Spencer, Sir Lester Bird, Samantha Marshall, Molwyn Joseph, Michael Browne, Sir Robin Yearwood, Melford Nicholas and Senators Harold Lovell and Lennox Weston.
Gaston Browne, ABLP political leader and prime minister emerged with the support of 49 percent of those polled while Harold Lovell, UPP political leader captured almost half of that with 26 percent, and Joanne Massiah DNA political leader achieved the support of 10 percent of those polled.
Baldwin Spencer, leader of the opposition and former two-term prime minister received 4 percent support and Sir Lester Bird, another former two-term prime minister for the ABLP received 3 percent.
While the director said that he was contractually obligated not to reveal the identity of who commissioned the poll, the prime minister confirmed Friday evening that it was commissioned by the ABLP. Wickham said CADRES needed and therefore would have received the permission of whoever commissioned the poll to release the information gathered.
However, Browne would not say whether the results had been deliberately released to counter those of the Free and Fair Election League’s (FFEL) mock election last week.
“We base nothing we do off of the Free and Fair Election League. The league’s mockery poll bears no relation to reality,” he said.
CADRES released the results of the ABLP commissioned poll on Friday, a day after the FFEL release of its mock election results on Thursday. The mock election was from February 8 to 10. In that poll the UPP won, receiving 531 votes from the 797 people who participated, while the ABLP received 157 votes.
ABLP ministers had encouraged their party members and supporters not to participate in the exercise and the prime minister this week dismissed the FFEL exercise and its result as a “mockery”. On Friday Browne again said the FFEL poll “lacks credibility” and was “unscientific”.
This reporter tried unsuccessfully to contact Senator Lovell by telephone last evening.