Labour in labour

Re-inventing the Malta Labour Party (and Maltese politics): an unauthorised tazebao.

The Xarabank Survey: Unspinning the Spin (3)

Posted by fcb on June 1, 2008

Weaving, spinning, carding wool, and combing flax. 15th c. France. MS Royal 16 Gv, f. 56, British Library, London

This is the third and last set of comments on The Xarabank Survey on the contest for Labour’s leadership. In the previous two as well as in this one we consider some of the questions, the manner in which they were set and the inbuilt biases that the Survey may reasonably be argued to contain. It is time that with the abundance of opinion surveys undertaken throughout the year in Malta, more attention was to be devoted to analysing their quality and their underlying politics.

1. Let’s begin by bringing together the replies to two questions put by the Xarabank interviewers to the 300 respondents of the sample chosen for the survey:

4.2.1 Who, according to you, will actually be elected MLP leader?
4.3.1 According to you, who of the five contestants has the best chance to return the MLP to government?

The table below brings together the results of these two questions but it goes a step further. Unlike the Survey results published by Xarabank, we bring you not only the percentage distribution of the replies but also the actual absolute numbers. They were not difficult to calculate. If, for example, we are told that 81.3%  of the 300 respondents thought that Joseph Muscat would be chosen as Leader of the Labour Party by the Delegates, then it can only follow that this is the opinion of 244 out 300 respondents. In the same way, if we are told that 46.3% of respondents told the Xarabank interviewers that they believe that George Abela is the contestant for the leadership of the Party with the best chances of winning the elections, then we can easily calculate that this means 139 respondents. 244 individuals think that Joseph Muscat will be chosen as new Leader in about forty eight hours (on June 5) in comparison with the 139 that think George Abela can defeat Gonzi in five years at the latest.

 

Who will be leader

Who has best

chances to win election

%

Number

%

Number

George Abela

9.7

29

46.3

139

Evarist Bartolo

0.0

0

2.3

7

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca

0.3

1

3.3

10

Michael Falzon

3.3

10

9.3

28

Joseph Muscat

81.3

244

37.7

113

No reply

5.3

16

1.0

3

Totals

99.9

300

99.9

300

2. Let’s now bring together two other questions (both from the section 4.3 According to you, who of the five contestants has the best chance to return the MLP to government?)

The questions are:

4.3.5    According to you, who of the five contestants has the best chance to return the MLP to government? By mode of voting in the last election
4.3.6 According to you, who of the five contestants has the best chance to return the MLP to government? By self described political orientation

The table below brings together the results of these two questions:

 

GeorgeAbela

Joseph Muscat

 

What they said they are

How they claim to have voted

What

they

said

they

are

How

they

claim

to

have

voted

 

No reply

42.9

44.7

45.7

36.5

Nationalists

54.5

55.4

34.3

31.5

Labourites

32.5

32.5

45.0

45.0

AD+ AN

 

75.0

 

25.0

Floaters

51.2

 

 

31.4

 

Did not vote

 

 

52.4

 

 

40.5

 

There is a remarkable similarity between those respondents who claim to be Labourites and those who claim to have voted Labour at the last elections. Exactly the same percentage of in both categories (32.5/32.5 % in the case of Abela and 45.0/45.0 % in the case of Muscat) think that Abela and Muscat respectively can win the next election for Labour. The same tendency (bit at a lower level of consistency) may be observed amongst Nationalists (54.5/55.64 % in the Abela’s case and 34.3/31.5 % in the case of Muscat). Not quite in line with the focus group results we obtained two weeks ago is the Xarabank finding that 75% of those who claim to have voted for AD or AN at the last election believe that Abela will win the next election for Labour. Of course, in the absence of any more precise information (such as: how many in all said they had voted for AD or AN? How many were AD voters and how many AN?) there are very few conclusions that one may draw.

3. Finally, let’s look at the section 4.4 Comparison between who the people want and who they think will bring a Labour victory, specifically the question concerning the Comparison between who the people want and who they think will bring a Labour victory among those who declared themselves Nationalists.

We are told that 44.7 % of all those who did not disclose how they voted in the last elections, think that George Abela can win the next election for Labour and that 36.5% of them think that Joseph Muscat can. What we are not told how many of the 300 in the sample did not disclose how they voted. We are simply told that “many did not indicated (sic) how they voted in the last general elections” but this begs the question “how many is many, Prof. Vassallo?” The same, in fact, can be said off other critical questions. Of the 300 respondents how many were self-represented themselves as Nationalists, Labourites, Floaters, Other? The Summary findings do not tell us how many. We are told at the beginning of section “3. Presentation of findings” that  “full details of the Respondents’ Profile is (sic) given in the full set of Tables” but these are nowhere to be seen.  We looked in every corner of the Xarabank website but did not find “the full set of Tables”: http://www.xarabank.com/index.php?lid=1&id=0&type=noticeboard&cid=71

Finally, we read that (2.4) the “questionnaire was designed by the Xarabank production team.”  What then was Prof. Vassallo’s role? Who holds final responsibility for the results?

 

 

 

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