Party pollster: Coronavirus effects not reached latest survey

Tõnis Stamberg (center) appearing with ERR's Anvar Samost (left) and Urmet Kook on 'Otse uudistemajast' Friday morning.
Tõnis Stamberg (center) appearing with ERR's Anvar Samost (left) and Urmet Kook on 'Otse uudistemajast' Friday morning.

The latest party support survey conducted by pollsters Turu-uuringute should not be taken as an appraisal of the coalition government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, sociologist Tõnis Stamberg, who works for the company, said Friday.

Appearing on ERR politics discussion show "Otse uudistemajast" Friday, Tamberg said the latest polls were conducted from March 5 to 16. By the time the government declared the emergency situation on March 12, in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, there were only 200 more respondents to be interviewed out of over 1,000, he said.

"Perhaps estimates of the government's action through the coronary crisis are not yet reflected in this poll, and we will be able to see them in the April survey," Stamberg said.

Stamberg also said that the ratings figures for the three governmental parties were likely to rise in the next poll, but from there onwards, support will depend a great deal on what happens to people after that, that is, whether they have a job and how long the restrictions imposed are to be accepted by the populace.

The spread of coronavirus did not leave Turu-uuringute's March survey unaffected, however. Even before the government declared the emergency situation, Stamberg said the company had made the decision to stop interviewing people face-to-face.LINK

By that time, about 300 out of 500 people earmarked for a face-to-face discussion had been interviewed. The remaining 200 were moved to the web survey, boosting its size from 500 respondents to 700.

Since the coronavirus pandemic will also affect subsequent surveys, Turu-uuringute says it will conduct 500 surveys online and 500 over the phone. 

As to whether replacing face-to-face interviews with telephone interviews can have an effect on support numbers, Stamberg said, to a small extent, it could do.

Research conducted in Estonia and elsewhere in the world has shown that people are more optimistic in their answers over the phone than face-to-face answers. This made it possible that to some extent this could lead to more support for more 'liberal' parties (Reform, SDE, Estonia 200, and to a certain extent Center-ed.),

Estonia 200 poaching support from everyone

With reference to the figures Turu-uuringute do have, Stamberg noted the rise in support for Estonia 200. LINK

"When that number already went up in January and February, I didn't venture to talk about any trend, but now it can be said that Estonia 200 offers an alternative for voters who are frustrated with the current parliamentary parties," Stamberg said.

Estonia 200 does not have any Riigikogu seats. Formed in 2018 and led by Kristiina Kallas, the party narrowly missed the five percent threshold of votes required to be represented, at the March 2019 general election.

Stamberg added that this does not mean that Estonia 200 have taken supporters from one particular party, but rather that its rise has come at the expense of several parties, both from the opposition – Reform and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) - and the coalition parties, Center, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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