Your name’s not down…… Opinion Surveys/PollsSeptember 12, 2016
A few days ago, a wandering policy maker from the aesthetically splendid institutional bunker on King Charles Street, London, peered under the rock and sought out the blog for a chat in the Odessa sunshine.
The conversation was wide-ranging and almost in its entirety will not be repeated – however the banal and certainly not sensitive issue of Ukrainian opinion polls and potential candidates for future office was raised.
Polling/opinion surveys in Ukraine, and Odessa, are a permanent and never-ending exercise – the vast majority of which are carried out with no intention of publication for a wide audience – certainly not for the media nor the electorate. Most are for internal use only for those commissioning the surveys/polls.
Thus on occasion a questioningly raised eyebrow curls upon the wrinkled forehead of the blog when a publicly published opinion poll/survey has very little resemblance to three or four different political party surveys/polls commissioned for their internal use, the statistics from which may have somehow reached the blog Inbox.
There are always methods to skew opinion polls/surveys in the way they are conducted, (physically/phone/internet), the exact wording of the questions, and even the emphasis placed on certain words within the questions when they are asked – this notwithstanding the ability to “buy/dictate” the survey/poll outcome for use in any information operation/social framing of political issues. There are obviously other tinkering options with regard to demographics, locations, and accurate recording of answers etc.
The above being accepted, more to the point with Ukrainian and local opinion polls other more fundamental matters also surface. for example, with the latest presidential opinion polls/surveys and the projection of anticipated voting. The usual historical and wearily repeated names are polled, Ms Tymoshenko, Mr Boiko, President Porosehnko and a perennial assortment of other aged politicians.
The next presidential election is more than 2 years away – which is a very long time in politics – and yet despite many sitting Prime Ministers having historically stood for presidential election, inexplicably Prime Minister Groisman was not a name who appeared among the possible candidates in the last polls/survey.
It is easy to state he would have no chance, or that he is simply a Poroshenko puppet, or that he has little top level policy experience today – but 2 years hence? He is already starting to show subtle signs political maturity, PR awareness, and appears to be at the beginning of an effort at forging his own, more Poroshenko-independent persona which is something to watch looking forward. There is also every chance that in the coming two years he will also have a public (be it part of a pantomime or more genuinely) spat with the Presidential Administration that will further forge his own more independent space in the political arena – or at least that perception.
He is also not alone when it comes to absent names on presidential polls, there are others that in the coming two years may well become prominent figures who will also run. It seems unlikely that Opposition Block can remain a united party for that long, so from within the current Opposition Block fold, it will be Mr Boiko and one other.
The question becomes who takes votes from who – and what effect it would have on the current opinion polls that don’t even name today certain likely candidates of tomorrow and current polling missing some obvious possibilities such as the current Prime Minister therefore have limited meaning – if any so far ahead of the event.
Ultimately it will become a choice between slow, steady and occasionally faltering centralism verses loud, reckless and probably disastrous populism. The names perhaps somewhat less important.
Turning to Odessa, if not Mayor Trukhanov then who? The Mayor’s confident Oleg Bryndyk? Others such as Kolomoisky’s Andrei Kotlyar, or Valerie Matkovsky, Sergei Kalinchuk and Anatoly Orel? Perhaps Michael Shmushkovich or Anatoli Urbanski despite their preference for Oblast and not City governance, could be tempted too should Mr Goncharenko decide to run his men – both have been Oblast Rada Chairman. Maybe Mr Potapsky Mr Goncharenko’s man currently Secretary/Speaker of City Hall?
None are doing any preparatory work now to give themselves a good chance of beating the current Mayor at the ballot box. If by some miracle Mayor Trukhanov is taken down by NABU, who are the obvious candidates with real societal traction to replace him and who can capitalise most effectively upon his falling popularity figures?
The Mayor’s falling popularity can be measured, but who if anybody is becoming more popular as an alternative?
What of Governor Saakashvili? Who are the candidates to replace him when he eventually moves on? (Perhaps that may be quite soon depending upon Georgian electoral outcomes on the immediate horizon.) Whatever faults he may have, or questionable judgements he may have made, when looking at his predecessors such as Mykola Skoryk, Eduard Matviychuk etc., he remains a vast improvement upon what came before him – for in truth to be any worse would be close to impossible. Who will replace him that does not give the perception of rolling back toward the worst Odessa has suffered? Is this really the best there is to offer the constituency of Ukraine and/or Odessa?
The rest of the conversation will remain permanently unwritten – but a few lines relating to current opinion polls/surveys are probably worth writing.