Election polls, first time voters and leadership trust – Arnold Cassola

Last weekend was characterized by polls commissioned by TMIS and  Malta Today, which in their results seem to point in the same direction.  At a time when people have started doubting the veracity of opinion polls, this is quite significant.  One must however also keep in mind the margin of error of +/- 4%.

The TMIS polls gave the following result: “After removing the ‘don’t knows’ and ‘would not vote’ from the equation: 52% for the PL, 44.3% for the Nationalist Party, 2.7% for Alternattiva Demokratika, 0.5% for Partit Demokratiku and 0.5% would go to others”.

Of course, anyone of us can interpret the figures in different ways. And one could be treading on dangerous ground if one were to ignore the “don’t knows” and “I would not vote” segments since these constitute quite a substantial amount of voters.

Having said this, I was quite surprised by the orientations of the first time voters, the 18-22 year old cohort.  In fact, the TMIS poll gave the following results as regards first time voters: 31.8% said they would vote PN; 9.1% would vote AD; 4.5% would vote PL and 4.5% said they would vote for other smaller parties. Are we sure that there was no misprint here, with the PL figures supposed to read 45% … and not 4.5%?

If this were not a misprint, one would still have to be very cautious here since the amount of youngsters who would not have declared their voting intentions (around 50%) is extremely high and therefore the picture given could be a very blurred one.

What is however sure is the malaise felt by the upcoming younger generations of Maltese when they had to declare their trust in the two major political leaders.  In fact, whilst 31.8% have declared their trust in Dr Busuttil and   27.3% instead opted for  Dr Muscat, the majority of youngsters (36.4%) do not trust either Simon or Joseph.  One wonders whether such mistrust is limited to these two leaders or whether the mistrust is in all Maltese politicians.

What, in my opinion, is indisputable is that this generation, that has been exposed since birth to the open world as presented by google, internet and the various social media, is no longer susceptible to be duped by the empty promises, sometimes even lies, of certain traditional politicians.  It is a generation of discerning young adults who can instantly verify at a click of a keyboard whether what they are being fed and promised by politicians is gospel truth or simply hogwash.

The level of mistrust in the two political leaders is also relatively high even amongst the whole population in general.  Whilst Dr Muscat is trusted by 45.5% of the Maltese and 28.5% trust Dr Busuttil, 23.1% of the respondents do not trust any of them at all, whilst 3.24% refused to make their preference known.

Around 25% of the Maltese, basically, do not trust the two political leaders.  Is this a one off? Or will subsequent  opinion polls confirm this trend.  Let us wait and see.  Whatever, as we approach election day, these polls will certainly provide us with interesting data to dissect.