"Yes" Vote Rebounds as Undecided Voters Make Up Their Minds

Sunday, September 10 2006 @ 09:54 AM EDT

Contributed by: Don Winner

(Source: La Prensa) Undecided voters - which last month comprised 28.5% of respondants, have begun to resolve their doubts. The results of a public opinion poll conducted during the month of September 2006 by the consulting company Dichter & Neira for La Prensa newspaper indicate that undecided voters have dropped to only 11.3%. Consequently, undecided voters have begun to make up their minds to either vote for or against the plan to expand the Panama Canal. Those who would vote in favor of the referendum are now 63.9%, reflecting an increase of 9.5% from last month. Those indicating they intend to vote against the referendum also increased. They now represent 24.8%, which is 7.7% more than in August. The survey was conducted in person, and the questions were asked to 1,200 people of legal voting throughout Panama in a national level study (excluding the Darien and remote indigenous regions) between 1 - 3 September 2006. The question was asked to those who expressed a strong interest in voting in the upcoming national referendum on 22 October which will decide the fate of the canal expansion proposal.
Results of a Simulated Voting Exercise

Immediately answering the poll questions respondants were invited to participate in a mock vote which simulated the conditions which will be used in the referendum vote with imitations of the question that will be asked in the referendum as well as simulations of the ballot boxes that will be used.

The simulated vote produced the following results -

The results of this simulation highlight the difference between those who who are willing to express their intention to vote against the referendum in a survey or poll (24.8%) and those who are willing to vote against the referendum in simulated voting conditions (33.7%).

So apparently the 11.3% of "undecided" voters are leaning toward voting against the referendum, at least for now. Those in favor, on the other hand, are consistent, reflecting 63.9% in the poll and 62.7% in the simulation.

Editor's Comment: Politicians who are trying to gauge public opinion always face the same challanges. They have to ask the right questions, they have to ask the right people, and they must do so in a way that will produce and accurate result. Any professional polling company knows that they will quickly go out of business if they can't produce results that are an accurate reflection of the public's intent. Polls are never perfect and are best for identifying trends. This poll was very well done in that the sample was spread across the country in cities and towns where people are most likely to participate in the referendum. Also, remote areas like the Darien and hard to access areas were not included for the obvious logistical reasons. If you can't get to them to ask them the polling questions, then chances are they are not going to make the effort to come down out of the mountains to vote anyway. In the initial screening pollsters identifed those who "expressed a strong intention" to participate in the vote. In other words, the first question was probably something like "Are you going to vote in the referendum in October?" Following up a standard poll with a simulated vote was an attempt to get people to come off of the fence which was necessary because in August 2006 28.5% of those questioned said they were undecided. Who wants to hear that people don't know what they are planning to do (even if that's an accurate reflection of people's attitudes.) So, people are starting to make up their minds as reflected in the poll, and they are trending toward the "yes" vote. If you force the undecided voters into a corner and make them choose one side or the other, then are trending toward the "No" vote, probably more on pure "don't trust the politicians" instinct than anything else. In any case, there are only 42 spinning days left before the referendum and while polls are fun to look at the only poll that really matters is fast approaching.

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REFERENDO. BAJAN DRAMÁTICAMENTE LOS INDECISOS. Repunta el ‘sí’ al Canal

El ‘sí’ ganó, en tan solo un mes, casi 10 puntos porcentuales, según la encuesta de Dichter & Neira.

Entre los encuestados se practicó un simulacro de sufragio. Los resultados fueron reveladores. 734151Rolando Rodríguez B. rrodríguez@prensa.com

Los indecisos –que el mes pasado sumaban el 28.5% de los entrevistados– han comenzado a dar muestras de haber resuelto sus dudas. En la encuesta de opinión pública del mes de septiembre, aplicada por la consultora Dichter & Neira, por encargo de La Prensa, los indecisos han bajado a tan solo el 11.3% de los entrevistados.

En consecuencia, los votos de los indecisos comienzan a repartirse en favor y en contra de la ampliación. Así, los que votarían por el "sí" son ahora el 63.9%, y eso es 9.5 puntos porcentuales más que el mes pasado. El "no" también ganó terreno: los que ahora están con esta opción suman el 24.8% de los encuestados. Eso es 7.7 puntos más que en agosto. La encuesta se aplicó cara a cara, a mil 200 personas mayores de edad, en un estudio a nivel nacional –sin incluir la provincia de Darién ni las comarcas indígenas– entre el 1 y el 3 de septiembre pasado.

a pregunta fue formulada entre aquéllos que expresaron la absoluta certeza o la posibilidad de acudir a las urnas el próximo 22 de octubre, fecha del referendo para decidir la ampliación del Canal.

Acto seguido, los encuestadores invitaron a estos mismos entrevistados a participar en un simulacro de votación, en condiciones similares a las del próximo referendo, con imitaciones de las papeletas que se utilizarán, así como las urnas habilitadas para tal propósito.

El resultado del simulacro fue el siguiente: el "sí" recibió un total de 62.7% de los votos, mientras que el "no" fue la opción del 33.7% de los que participaron en el ejercicio de sufragio. El 3.6% de los votos emitidos resultó nulo.

Como es evidente, hay una diferencia entre la intención de votar por el "no" –que suma el 24.8% de los entrevistados– y el voto negativo emitido en las urnas en el simulacro, que captó un tercio de las simpatías.

La razón de esta diferencia se explicaría en el hecho de que los indecisos –que hasta ahora son el 11.3% de los votantes– se inclinarían a elegir el "no", al menos por ahora.

En cambio, el voto a favor es consistente: mientras en la intención de voto marca el 63.9% de las preferencias, en la urna es de 62.7%.

Lea el Pulso de la Nación mañana, lunes.

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