By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Minnis administration’s popularity is waning, with fewer than 50 per cent of Bahamians generally satisfied with its performance, according to a new poll from marketing and research firm Public Domain.
The number of Bahamians generally dissatisfied with the administration has increased by 28 per cent since last May even as the number of people generally satisfied with the administration has declined by 18 per cent.
The poll also shows a substantial per cent of people surveyed now believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.
The poll was conducted from March 15 to April 7 and relies on a random, weighed sample of 1,000 Bahamians. It comes as the administration prepares to mark its one year anniversary on May 10.
Respondents were asked: “How satisfied are you with the current government?”
To this question, 12 per cent of respondents said they are very satisfied with the Minnis administration; 35 per cent said they are somewhat satisfied; 16 per cent said they are very dissatisfied with the administration and 17 per cent said they are somewhat dissatisfied in the administration.
Twenty-one per cent of respondents did not know or answer the question.
By contrast, in a November 2017 survey by Public Domain, 14 per cent were very satisfied with the administration, 42 per cent were somewhat satisfied, 13 per cent were very dissatisfied, 15 per cent were somewhat dissatisfied and 16 per cent did not know or answer the question.
In the group’s May poll, 65 percent of respondents were generally satisfied in the government and only five percent at the time were generally not satisfied.
The FNM won the 2017 general election with 57 percent of the vote.
Joey Gaskins, an adjunct lecturer of sociology at the University of the Bahamas and a senior communications and policy strategist for Public Domain, said the numbers highlight “slippage in support” for the government.
He noted in a press release: “I don’t believe the slippage is permanent and there is still time to recover. But, one thing our polling over the last seven years has taught us is that once the Bahamian people form negative attitudes toward an administration they stop listening, and once they stop listening, it is very difficult to regain their support.”
Respondents were also asked: “Would you say that the country is moving in the right or wrong direction?”
Since the May election, the number of respondents who believe the country is generally going in the right direction has dropped from 67 per cent that month to 40 per cent this month while the number of respondents who believe the country is generally going in the wrong direction has increased from 21 per cent to 39 per cent.
Specifically, 21 per cent of respondents believe the country is going in the “very wrong” direction, 18 per cent believe it is going “somewhat” in the wrong direction; 12 per cent believe it is going in the “very right” direction and 28 per cent believe it is going in the “somewhat right” direction.
In recent weeks, the Minnis administration has emphasised that the economy is improving in defence of itself to Bahamians. Asked why respondents seem to increasingly believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction despite this, Mr Gaskins said: “I think this is a communications question. What’s the central narrative of the government’s economic development work? How has this narrative been communicated to the Bahamian people? “How has the government actively engaged everyday Bahamians in this work?”
He added: “When we polled after the election, 54 per cent of people said they voted for the FNM because after years of corruption and incompetence, it was time to throw out the PLP, not because the FNM had the best plan or the best team. In that same poll respondents answered at a rate of 44 per cent to 39 per cent that they were optimistic that the FNM would make the changes we need to turn around the Bahamas, and that they hoped the government would engage them directly in developing policies that will improve the country. Finally, people’s number one priority was the economy after the election. If we use these numbers to form the basis of a strategy to turn public opinion around, I would suggest the government has to differentiate itself from the last administration––it shouldn’t look like more of the same. The government needs to be seen taking bold, visionary steps to change the direction of the country.”
While scientific polls about political attitudes of Bahamians have been rare over the years, this is at least the third such poll Public Domain has conducted in the last year, having done polls in May 2017 and November 2017 as well. The company says its research is supported by an 18-seat computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) call centre.
The poll’s sample size of 1,000 is significant for the Bahamas, Mr Gaskins said, adding: “If you look at FiveThirtyEight’s tracking of American’s opinions on Donald Trump you will see that the list of polls they are tracking use a sample size of about 800 to 1,500. That’s for the entire US. A random sampling of 1,000 is great for a population like ours.”
FiveThirtyEight is a website focusing on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics, and sports blogging.
Mr Gaskins added: “Public Domain is committed to ensuring its clients and the Bahamas at large are forming opinions and making decisions using as much accurate data as possible. Polling, however, is not a free endeavour. We hope that eventually, like in the US, we can partner with the government, media and news organisations to generate polling information and keep the Bahamian public informed.”