Colombo, Elections, Politics and Governance, Polls

Surveys with conflicting outcomes

There was a survey on the next presidential election conducted by an Indian firm-Viplav Communications Pvt Ltd during January 6-13.  They say the sample size is 10,225 and forecast “The poll shows Rajapaksa (MR) leading in all provinces other than the Tamil-dominated north and multi-racial east and enjoying a 12 percent lead over his opponent in the island as a whole.”

I got two feedbacks from two prominent personalities in Sri Lanka on this survey;

Response 1: “Cannot go by Indian survey as it is, because most people who have changed their minds after PC elections do not reveal the change unless the one who is interviewed is personally known to the officer carrying out the survey, due to sheer fear. Environment is so bad, the govt. sources take revenge at slightest knowledge that someone is in favour of SF. Therefore my understanding is that SF will win provided election/polling is carried out fairly without ridging votes, which hardly can be believed.”

Response 2: “That Indian outfit is well known and reputed. They will lose customers in India if they fudge data to support one side in tiny Sri Lanka.  I would take non Lankan survey more seriously than any Lankan survey. Specially one by an outfit with a reputation to lose!” and he said MR will win.

Therefore a group of people here in Auckland decided to carry out a telephone survey during the last weekend (16-17 January) using a very small sample in 6 districts; Colombo, Gampaha, Matara, Kalutara, Puttlam and Moneragala. According to that survey General (Rtd.) Sarath Fonseka (SF) is going to win the next presidential election. We have to wait until the results are out to verify which sample is more representative and to see whether the sample size really matters. We captured 100 responses.  We assessed four critical sensitive factors (CSF) and the outcome is as follows;

CSF 1: Percentage of valid votes in the whole country except for Northern  Province (62.5% in 2009 PC election; 77.7% in 2005 presidential election).

Projection for 2010 is 78.12%; apx. 11,000,000 votes.

CSF 2: How do those who have not voted in 2009 PC election would vote on 26th Jan 2010? This is the most sensitive factor as it counts nearly to 2,500,000 votes.

Many respondents of the view that those who did not vote in 2009 PC election are mostly hardcore UNP votes and the survey outcome suggests 3 – 4 out of five of such votes would be for SF; 1,500,000 – 2,000,000 votes.

CSF 3: Is there any change of voting pattern from last PC election?

Survey suggests that 0-2 out of 5 (0% – 40%), who voted to UPFA in the last 2009 PC election, would vote against UPFA. Colombo reported 40% while Moneragala reported 0% and other four districts reported 20% swing to SF. However, giving the benefit of the doubt to MR the whole island average swing is projected as moderate 13.6% (5,162,000 of UPFA votes except Northern Province in 2009 PC election) which is apx. 700,000 votes.

CSF 4: Northern Province polling rate and percentage to SF.

Projection is that 420,000 votes would be polled and 60%-70% of valid votes would be for SF; Apx. 250,000 votes.


MR SF Others
Approximate vote-bases according to 2009 PC election without NP 5,162,000




CSF 2 – Out of 2,500,000 not polled in 2009 PC election 700,000 1,700,000 100,000
CSF 3 – 13.5% of 5,162,000 polled in 2009 to UPFA+ (700,000) 700,000
CSF 4 – Northern Province; 420,000 expected 150,000 250,000 20,000
Total Votes; 11,000,000 out of 14,080,000 = 78.12% 5,312,000 5,550,000 138,000
Percentage 48.29% 50.45% 1.26%

Viplav’s forecast of 12% lead should result in that MR polling at least 55.5%, so that SF would be polled 43.5% leaving 1% to others. But if we project CSF-2 towards more favourable to MR, that is only 1,500,000 vote-swing to SF, then MR would get apx. 50.4%. Therefore, according to our survey it is very unlikely that MR would lead by 12% to post 55.5% as published by Viplav pvt Ltd, instead he would be polled just between 48.3% and 50.4% as on 17 Jan.

C A Saliya


18 Jan 2010