Cooper says surveys have gotten more accurate

Asked yesterday about the results of a recent Public Domain survey that shows a favorable approval rating for the prime minister and for the government as a whole, Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper suggested the government will not get comfortable despite what the poll revealed. 

“I think polls have become exceedingly accurate over time, but I think you know the smell test is on the ground,” said Cooper, responding to a question put to him by “Z Live” host Zhivargo Laing on the Guardian Radio program.

“The people must touch, see and feel what we are doing, so whilst we talk about the successes that we have and the things that we’re doing, we have to ensure that [they translate] into people’s lives.

“We’re working actively to do just that. As we approach our second anniversary, we will improve our communications, even demonstrating how people can participate in some of the activities that we’re seeing.

“So when we talk about the [tourism] arrival numbers [improving], I’m going to do more. I’m going to be on the road more to talk about the opportunities through the Tourism Development Corporation, how we can participate and how we can really get more Bahamians involved; and so, there’s work to be done.”

The Nassau Guardian reported yesterday on the results of the survey conducted last week by Public Domain, a Bahamian market research and strategy firm.

Public Domain asked respondents whether they approve of the job being done by the prime minister.

Twenty-three percent said they strongly approve and 42 percent said they somewhat approve.

Nine percent somewhat disapprove; nine percent strongly disapprove and 16 percent said they don’t know.

When asked if they approve of the job being done by the government, 21 percent said they strongly approve and 43 percent said they somewhat approve.

Ten percent said they somewhat disapprove and 11 percent said they strongly disapprove. 

Sixteen percent said they don’t know.

On the show yesterday, Laing pointed to Cooper’s reaction to a 2021 survey that was conducted on the performance of the Minnis administration.

Cooper, who was in opposition at the time, dismissed the Free National Movement (FNM) poll, which put the approval rating of the then-prime minister (Dr. Hubert Minnis) ahead of the approval rating of leader of the opposition (Philip Davis).

According to a memo, which was obtained by The Nassau Guardian and reported on at the time, Ragnar Research Partners conducted telephone interviews with 400 likely voters across The Bahamas between July 1 and July 6, 2021.

Fifty-three percent of individuals polled approved of the job Minnis had done as prime minister while 37 percent disapproved, according to the document, which added that 67 percent approved of Minnis’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic while 25 percent disapproved.

The memo reported that 24 percent of individuals polled approved of Davis’ job done as leader of the opposition while 47 percent disapproved.

Participants were asked who they trusted more on The Bahamas’ response to the pandemic.

“Bahamian voters believe Doc Minnis is doing a good job, especially in regards [to] the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the memo stated.

It said voters trusted Minnis substantially more than Davis to lead the country out of the pandemic.

“This data is very clear who voters trust,” the memo stated.

While appearing as a guest on the Guardian Radio talk show “Morning Blend” with host Dwight Strachan in July 2021, Cooper was asked about the poll.

“I understand that doesn’t meet the smell test in terms of the size,” Cooper said

“You mentioned that only 400 people were polled. I believe a standard, rule of thumb is 1,000. I believe there are some cultural nuances that may have not been considered.

“I understand the polling was done by an American firm. There’s an old Bahamian saying that, you know, ‘paper will stand still and let anybody write on it’.”

Cooper said Bahamians should simply listen to the conversations on the ground to know how Bahamians were feeling about the Minnis administration.

Of the poll results, Cooper said at the time, “It ought not to be taken seriously and Bahamian people should simply listen to the conversations at the water cooler, and that will give you the best sense as to whether the people believe that the country’s going in the right direction.

“People do not believe it’s going in the right direction and people do not believe that Minnis can turn it in the right direction. So let’s just set that polling aside.”

Cooper was proven right.

The FNM lost miserably in the September 16, 2021 general election.

The party won just seven of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly with the Davis-led PLP capturing the remainder of the seats.

Speaking on Laing’s show yesterday, Cooper said, “Evidence in retrospect is the results of the elections, right?”

Asked if there was a lesson in not paying attention to surveys, Cooper spoke of the need to listen to people on the ground and to take the message to them that “this is a great time to be in The Bahamas and this is a great time to be Bahamian”.

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Candia Dames

Candia Dames is the executive editor of The Nassau Guardian.

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