This is the only pre-cooling-off-day polling I’ve seen. Now that the election has ended, we can verify its accuracy. It got the PAP’s share of vote exactly right (61%). I’ll take that as a broad sign its results are reliable. The poll was taken from May 3- May 5, ie before cooling-off day. Some general comments:
1. There was a swing of vote during/after cooling-off day towards the WP
The poll predicts 11% for WP; WP actually got 14%. This means that there was a swing of vote towards the WP towards the end.
2. The PAP apology had not much effect
From May 3- May 5, the PAP drew 61% of votes. Same on May 7. So they did not improve their standing over the last few days; the apology didn’t have much effect.
The top two issues were cost of living and government accountability/transparency. After cooling-off day, the same two issues dominated.
- Accountability/transparency was what helped a weak Nicole Seah-led NSP team in Marine Parade, when it seemed the PAP simply refused to admit their mistake with TPL.
- Notice that housing and immigration are further down the list. Nonetheless, I’m guessing they contributed to ‘cost of living’ in voters’ minds. This (+ the need for accountability) helped to bring down the PAP’s share of votes for Tampines and CCK.
- East Coast suffered because of cost of living too. The minister for transport is there, and the union head (supposed to fight for workers’ rights) probably lost points. Nonetheless, again note that wages and salaries is not a key issue. Once again I’m guessing voters add up all the smaller issues to get a bigger “cost of living” issue.
The WP in particular seems to now be carving itself a niche as the “Okay-lah” opposition, separate from the rest. Two party state?
The WP had a favourability rating just as high as the PAP (55%). It also ran in a lot of constituencies, and yet the average score for “the opposition” in general is very low (27%). Mathematically, if you add up the ratings for WP, NSP, and all the other parties, and divide it however you wish (straight up unweighted, or weighted more towards the parties with more candidates), the score for the opposition should not be so low.
HOWEVER, it makes sense if you take the WP out, and then just calculate the rest of the opposition separately. This means that in the voters’ minds, the WP is seen as a separate, credible, entity. In fact, you see the PAP, Government, and WP clustered together at the top. More importantly, the WP’s popularity translated to actual votes too, and the WP achieved great results (>40% in all constituencies).
Anyway, we may really be heading towards a two-party state after all.
Conclusion- How cooling-off affected WP
After cooling-off day, the WP did even better than before cooling-off day. This is because it managed to tap into two top issues that dominated.
1) The electorate seemed to lump many things together under ‘cost of living’. The WP had tackled this throughout its campaign by drawing attention to a host of government missteps, rather than linking its campaign to a referendum of any one government issue. Perhaps after cooling-off, the electorate realised that the WP had scored many small hits on this one big issue.
2) The WP’s entire platform was build around “Towards A First World Parliament”, the second top issue. The electorate agreed with their view.
Conclusion- How cooling-off affected PAP
Interestingly, cooling-off day did nothing whatsoever to the PAP’s overall votes. Nonetheless, we all know the WP’s votes had to come at the expense of someone, and since it only ran against the PAP, this means that the PAP suffered in WP wards, and yet picked up momentum in other wards. I’m guessing that after cooling-off, the electorate gravitated towards the ‘known entities’- parties with great brand names, WP and PAP. The two parties probably picked up votes at the expense of all other parties- except perhaps for NSP in Marine Parade.
The PAP’s apology, coming at this time, while ostensibly being the right thing to do, greatly disappoints me. Imagine if there had been no elections. Or if there had been no credible opposition like in previous elections. It would have been business as usual for the PAP (why wouldn’t it, if no questions are asked?), and they would not have seen the need to apologise, and to change.
With disappointment in my heart, I write a letter to our very own men in white.
A Letter to the PAP
Dear PAP: I grew up trusting you totally, believing that you’d always do the right thing. Why can’t you display such desirable attitudes during the five years leading up to this election? Why only now, when the opposition forces your hand? Why do we even need an election to wake you up?
Can Singapore really afford to 1) wait five years for the next round of soul-searching 2) risk the fact that in five years, there may not be a credible opposition to force you to reflect?
What was the problem in the first place? Did you not know that we were resentful? Did you know, but not care, that we were resentful? Did you not even care of our opinions in the first place?
You’ve brought us very far. I’m proud of what Singapore has accomplished. But maybe it’s time to refocus your efforts on a Singapore that us Singaporeans want.
As Chen Show Mao put it, right at the start of the election, our national flag- which is your national flag too- flies the colours of red and white. Not white and white.
I have faith that you’ll do the right thing, because you are talented technocrats whom I trust to run the country. So don’t take this election the wrong way- we merely want to bring out the best in you, to push you to achieve even greater things for Singapore.
It may hurt for you to lose a few seats, but Singapore will bounce back the better for it. And isn’t that what we’re all in this for?
May Singapore continue to prosper in the next five years.