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Dawn

Published Date: Mar 5, 2013

PML-N leaves PPP for behind in latest poll survey

As
the election season approaches, surveys, polls and predictions are flying in
thick and fast.

The
latest offering has come from the Pildat-Gallup camp which has followed in the
footsteps of the IRI and puts its respondents’ faith in the PML-N.

Like
the Nov IRI findings but unlike the Herald-SDPI findings (which put the PPP and
PML-N neck and neck), the Pildat-Gallup survey, which was conducted in February
this year in 300 villages and 200 urban localities, says 41 per cent of its
respondents (of which there were nearly ten thousand) opted for the PML-N while
14 and 17 per cent put their faith in the PTI and PPP respectively.

These
findings are not too different from the IRI which put the PML-N as the first
choice of 32 per cent of their respondents while 18 per cent of them opted for
the PTI and 14 per cent for the PPP.

However,
the Pildat-Gallup team was quite apprehensive of their efforts being seen as a
prediction of the election results and stressed again and again the need to
take survey results with a pinch of salt — ‘as hazardous as predicting the
weather,’ said the report which is titled “The Uncertain Political Weather
Forecast.”

The
initial findings of this survey which were released on Monday had been divided
provincially and then further into regions.

In
other words, the 11 territories where the interviews were conducted presented
as Punjab 1 (Rawalpindi, Lahore and Gujranwala); Punjab 2 (Faislabad and
Sargodha); Punjab 3 (Bhawalpur, D.G. Khan and Multan); Sindh 1 (Karachi); Sindh
2 (Mirpurkhas, Sukkur and Hyderabad); KP 1 (Malakand division); KP 2 (Kohat,
Bannu and DI Khan); KPK 3 (Peshawar Valley which includes the provincial
capital and Nowshera); KP 4 (Hazara areas); Balochistan 1 (Quetta and Zhob) and
Balochistan 2 (Kalat; Makran and Sibi).

The
idea, according to the survey team, is to provide a complete picture of each
province because the local context is essential to understanding the picture.

In
the provincial context, the results for Punjab and Sindh are far from
surprising.

The
PML-N leads in the Punjab with 59 per cent while the PTI and PPP trail behind
by 14 and 10 per cent respectively.

However,
the survey results provide circumstantial evidence that the drop in PPP’s
popularity has fed into the surge for the PTI, which is contrary to the popular
perception that the PTI is luring the PML-N voters.

The
logic behind this is provided by some historical data collated for this survey
which is based on the election results from 1993-2008. According to this data,
the PPP had garnered 27 per cent of the vote in Punjab 1 in the past while in
the Feb survey only four per cent of the respondents were willing to opt for
the party.

This
drop cannot be explained by the increased popularity of the PML-N which in
Punjab 1 has witnessed a rise of around 20 per cent, especially as the PML-Q
has also witnessed a drop of 16 per cent.

Hence
the conclusion can be reached that the drop in the PPP’s support has fed into
the surge for PTI which 15 per cent of the respondents opted for. The results
for the other regions of Punjab are not much different.

There
is little change in Sindh where the PPP continues to lead in the non-Karachi
districts with 51 per cent, which is an improvement on its track record of the
48 per cent votes that it garnered in elections from 1997 to 2008 (for Sindh
the 1993 elections were ignored as the MQM had boycotted them).

And
unsurprisingly, the MQM reigns supreme in Karachi with 45 per cent.

But
it is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balchistan that the survey has thrown up odd
results that will raise more than a few eyebrows.

Oddly
enough, apart from Hazara, the PML-N has also witnessed a rise in its
popularity in KP 2 and 3.

This
is odd because KP 2 comprises the South where most analysts and experts are
predicting a victory for JUI-F. What makes this result hard to digest is that
the JUI-F did not even get a mention as a stand alone party. The survey claims
that so few respondents voted for it that it was clubbed into the “all others”
category which got 16 per cent of the vote.

More
odd still was the survey team’s decision to claim that 32 per cent of the votes
in KP 1 (Malakand division) were garnered by JUI-F/MMA. This was the highest
vote given to any party in this district.

However,
the problem is that the JUI-F has never had much of a presence in this region
which is a JI stronghold that went to the ANP only because the JI boycotted the
2008 elections.

The
Gallup-Pildat officials claimed that this was only due to a confusion and that
they would recheck the exact phrasing of the question/s asked. However, in the
meantime such simple mistakes can cast doubts over the entire results of a
survey.

But
Balochistan’s results proved to be even more startling. Here the ANP scored
high in Balochistan 1 with 28 per cent, emerging as a front runner and the PPP
scored a 27 per cent in the rest, far out stripping JUI-F/MMA (6 per cent);
PML-N (15 per cent) while ‘all others’ got 54 per cent.

That
the ANP would even configure in the voters choice for Balochistan is a bit
baffling as is the surge in the PPP’s popularity. It is difficult to explain
this.

Poor
Mahmood Khan Achakzai! Not only are the chances of him becoming caretaker prime
minister slim; his Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party seems to have no independent
presence in the Quetta-Zhob region if Pildat-Gallup are to be believed.

And
even if the PPP forgives them for this survey, Achakzai might just not.