Different polls, same bad news for PN

While the MaltaToday survey puts the gap between PL and PN at 11 points, the Times of Malta survey places the same gap at 6 points… but results in a greater swing from PN to PL. The discrepancy explained.

James Debono
15 January 2013, 12:00am
Lawrence Gonzi - trust rating remains crucial.
Lawrence Gonzi - trust rating remains crucial.

The difference between the Misco survey published in the Sunday Times and the MaltaToday survey published in the same day can be attributed to the greater participation of Labour leaning respondents in the MaltaToday survey.

In fact both surveys agree on the PN's percentage (27%) and differ by only half a percentage point on AD's. But while the Misco survey fixes the PL's support at 33%, MaltaToday's survey puts the same percentage at 38%- a difference of 5 points.

But this discrepancy can be easily explained by the fact that while only 26% of respondents in the Sunday Times survey declared voting Labour in 2008, the percentage rises to nearly 36% in MaltaToday's survey.

For which party did you vote for in the 2008 election? | Infographics

While the gap between the two major parties in the past election was 13% in the Sunday Times survey, in MaltaToday's survey it is 2.2%.

In reality the gap in the last election amounted to less than a percentage point. This means that the political allegiance of respondents in MaltaToday's survey is a closer reflection of the 2008 election result.

MaltaToday surveys had indicated that the gap between the two major parties was narrowing in December: from 12 points in October to 8 points two weeks before Christmas. But during the first week of the campaign the gap increased again to 11%.

On the other hand the Sunday Times survey shows that the gap has narrowed from 12 points in October to just 6 points now.

One crucial difference between the two surveys is that while the Sunday Times survey was held before the PL unveiled its energy plans, the MaltaToday's survey was held between Monday and Thursday i.e. both before and after the presentation of the plans.

Although the Sunday Times indicates that the gap between the two parties is narrower, it crucially reveals that the swing between the two parties has increased from 6 points a year ago, to 12 points now. The swing accounts for respondents switching from the PN to the PL, and vice versa.

In MaltaToday's survey, 11.3% of PN voters are switching to the PL, while only 1.5% are shifting from PL to PN: resulting in a net swing of 9.8 points. In the Sunday Times survey, 13% of PN voters are switching to PL while only 1.3% of PL voters switch to PN: resulting in a net swing of 11.7 points.

This means that the net swing in favour of Labour is effectively 2 points lower in our survey than that of the Sunday Times. This makes the implications of the Misco survey more damning for the PN than that of MaltaToday.
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...