How the surveys compare

Both MaltaToday and Malta Independent surveys indicate an absolute majority for Labour when 'don’t knows' are removed from the equation

Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat (L) and Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil
Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat (L) and Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil

Removing the ‘don’t knows’ sector from the surveys about the electoral situation conducted by MaltaToday and the Independent on Sunday, translates into an absolute majority for the Labour Party.

While the MaltaToday survey shows Labour with a majority of 52%, the Independent puts that majority at 53%. Both surveys agree on AD’s 0.6% result. And while MaltaToday puts the PN at 47%, the Independent puts it at 46%. 

MaltaToday is traditionally wary of extrapolations as these are based on the assumption that ‘don’t knows’ will split equally between the parties. Historically this has often been the case although pollsters recall that 1996 was an exception.  

In that particular election the undecided tilted in favour of Sant’s Labour party, thus upsetting predictions of a landslide for the PN.

If don’t knows tilt in favour of any particular party, the end result will be different from the extrapolated one.

While the margin of error for both surveys is slightly less than four points when all respondents are included, the margin of error increases to around +/-5 because the extrapolation includes a reduced sample.   

This means that the results of the two surveys fall within their margin of error. Moreover both surveys allow for the possibility of a small PN majority. While the Independent survey puts the PN at anything between 41% and 51%, the MaltaToday survey puts the PN at between 42% and 52%. On the other hand the Independent survey would put Labour at anything between 48% and 58% while MaltaToday’s survey puts it at between 47% and 57%.

The surveys only diverge marginally with regard to trust rating. After removing the don’t knows Muscat is trusted by 47% in MaltaToday’s survey and by 48% in the Independent’s survey. On the other hand while Busuttil is trusted by 41% in the MaltaToday survey he is trusted by 39% in the Independent’s survey. All these differences fall within the margin of error of the two surveys.  

Another notable difference, which could have impacted on the results of the surveys, is that while the MaltaToday survey was held between Tuesday, 2 May and Friday, 5 May, the Independent survey was held between 25 April and 3 May. This means that the latest Independent survey did not factor in the decision by the inquiring magistrate that the “necessary prerequisites exist” for a new magisterial inquiry into allegations of kickbacks made to the PM’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

As things stand both surveys indicate that Labour is heading towards a majority of votes, with the added advantage of Muscat enjoying greater trust than Busuttil. But the undecided – who amount to 23% of respondents in MaltaToday’s survey – can still change the outcome of the election if they tilt towards the PN.