Sunday, December 08, 2002

Kirk Meighoo, writing in today's Express, says there was a major flaw in his statistical analysis of T&T's last general election results:

"If all the new voters and swinging 'third party' voters went to the PNM, that would total 38,000. This still leaves at least 12,000 extra votes for the PNM unaccounted for. These extra votes, I argued, would have had to come from the UNC supporters of last year. It made the PNM achievement seem more remarkable.

"This appeared to be an impeccable analysis.

"But there was one factor which I did not take into account, which has negated my entire conclusion. I neglected the amount of non-voters in 2001. They numbered 283,476. It is therefore entirely possible that the 55,000 new voters could have come from this group. Also, the 7,000 'third party' voters could have not voted at all this time around. Perhaps no swing occurred at all."

I must admit that when Meighoo's original analysis appeared in the T&T Review I looked it over, trying to find a flaw in his calculations; but I have no head for mathematics, felt slightly bewildered by his array of figures, & assumed he'd factored registered non-voters into his equation. (Perhaps I should've asked Damien to take a look.) I was a little suspicious of the "swing voter" phenomenon — not because of any personal statistical research, but because of what I'd observed people around me saying & doing in the weeks leading up to the election. It's a little shocking to discover my instincts may have been right.

So much for that exciting development.

But Meighoo today goes on to argue that "ethnic" voting, the bane of present-day T&T politics, is a more recent development than is generally recognised:

"Our political history suggests that the race situation was working itself out in the 1970s and 1980s, until the disastrous mishandling of the NAR alliance in 1987–8 re-energised ethnic solidarity. We are living through this phase at the moment.

"It will not last forever."

Let's hope he's right about this one.

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