Bermudian Politics in Transition, Chapter Two, Excerpts

Chapter Two is mostly an analysis of the 1976 election, and shifting voting tendencies. Some highlights from it are the conclusion that:

(p.40) …the growth of PLP support comes from many sources – Blacks under 25, Blacks who previously did not vote, Blacks converted from UBP or split-ticket voting, a marginal White element who have drifted from the UBP, and young Whites voting for the first time. Data for Blacks are firm and those for Whites seem to be suggestive of what could be a dramatic change in Bermudian politics: the break-up of the White vote.

(p.40) At the same time, the PLP’s gains are exceeded by the UBP’s losses – an indication that the 1976 election was more of a defeat for the UBP than a victory for the PLP. Among those in both races who changed their voting allegiance, the major shift was the decline in UBP support. In the Black case, one third of this decline went to split-tickets. If nothing else, these findings buttress the UBP’s internal critics who contend that their Party has made costly political mistakes.

(p.40) The shift to th ePLP among Blacks who voted for the UBP or the split-tickets in the previous election invites further analysis, as it represents the strongest evidence of a real political transition.

N.B: Records a high improvement in female voters for the PLP.

I found this excerpt interesting:

(p.42-43) After the election, PLP strategists confided that they were helped considerably by the Mid-Ocean News, which reported on the basis of a pre-election poll that the UBP would return to power, that the mood of the country was unchanged, and that the distribution of Parliamentary seats would be about the same as in the previous election [MON 15/05/1976]. The PLP’s view was that the prediction not only lulled Whites to sleep, but assured Blacks that they could vote for the PLP without changing the Government. Interestingly, the BIU, organisational backbone of the PLP, predicted some weeks before the election that the Party would suffer defeat [Workers Voice, 23/04/1076].

(p.43) These items suggest something distinctive about Bermudian politics. In other countries, candidates and Parties confidently predict victory. There is also evidence that indications about who will win an election – whether from opinion polls or the publication of early returns – tends to create a ‘bandwagon’ psychology among the electorate, inclining them to support the likely winners. But in Bermuda it is the opposite, at least in terms of the PLP’s fortunes. Predictions of defeat seem to be the best way to rally a number of voters who might otherwise not support the Party.

He summed this up using a metaphor given by a Black pro-UBP PLP voter who likened the political process to a boxing match: (p.42) “You’re only as good as your competition. If I hit you and you can’t hit me back, then its no contest.”

In order to test this theory he made reference to the then future next election in polling individuals. His results were:

(p.44) …while 60% of blacks are reasonably sure of voting again for the PLP, only 50% want to see the PLP form the next government. Hence one in six Blacks who will vote for the PLP is undecided about whether he wants to see that Party win the election. This type of pattern is not found among Blacks who favour the UBP, and it is exactly reversed among Whites, whose intention to vote UBP again is 11% points lower than their desire to see the UBP retain control of government. Thus, the ‘sporting view’ of voting is confined to Black PLP supporters, as originally suspected. but its future role is problematic as the PLP gains strength and moves within striking distance of a parliamentary majority. will the desire to compete eventually instill a desire to win? Or will the prospect of winning spoil the game?

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