Voters’ Profile – Survey Report

16 Feb, 2012

In the run-up to the elections, apart from voters’ political sympathies, election subjects pay special attention to supporters’ profile, their values, personal features and beliefs, the way they assess country’s development, democracy etc…

A report on the survey conducted by the Institute for Policy Studies was published on February 14 with the support from the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF).  The report is part of a wide-scale study, ‘Generations and Values’, which deals with the above mentioned topics.

“The outcomes of today’s survey, which is part of the study ‘Generations and Values’, show voters’ views on political figures.  The profile of the supporters of political figures i.e. their values, differences (if any) between the values of proponents of different political figures, the way supporters of some political figures view Georgia’s development, democracy and future, is interesting.  We, as a foundation, are interested in having informed electorate and giving equal opportunities for competitive activities to all political parties rather than in the political force that will gain voters’ support”, said Keti Khutsishvili, the OSGF Executive Director.

The survey was conducted from 21 November to December 19, among citizens of the following age groups: 18-24, 40-50 and 60-70.  1058 respondents took part in the survey.  Nana Sumbadze of the Institute for Policy Studies noted that for the first time interviewers had found it difficult to get respondents’ consent to be interviewed. 

“It was difficult to get respondents’ consent to be interviewed for the survey, especially in Tbilisi, where they simply did not open doors to interviewers”, said Nana Sumbadze. 

In order to characterize respondents, the survey report introduced conditionally the notion of the ‘skeptics’ – the citizens that do not support any political force.  It should be noted that the National Movement supporters stand out for their big optimism and self-confidence, while  Ivanishvili’s supporters demonstrate these features least.  The skeptics hold an intermediate position between them (see the report, p. 9 – Values, Beliefs and Personal Features).

The survey analyzes the demographic profile of voters and their political interests, political position, views on democracy. In the value part, the attention is focused on relationships, values of life, religion etc.

The authors of the survey think that knowing the voter’s profile will help political subjects plan their political campaign efficiently. 

“Our survey aimed to give to all political subjects an opportunity to plan efficiently the campaign and use voter resources in the remaining 8 months.  Therefore, we did not wait for the publication of the basic study and decided to inform the public on the survey outcomes at this stage.  It is impossible to plan any campaign unless you know whom you have to deal with and who your electorate is”, said Nana Sumbadze.

In demographic terms, most of Ivanishvili’s supporters live in urban areas (61,9%).  Most of them studied at a higher level educational institution than secondary and vocational schools (59,3%).  Compared to the supporters of the National Movement, the number of Ivanishvili’s supporters that use computers, the internet and social networks is higher.  They consider political issues with friends more often etc. 

Rural population prevails among the supporters of the National Movement (65,7%).  In this category, 47.4% studied at a higher level educational institution than secondary and vocational schools. 

Because of the upcoming Parliamentary elections one question was added to the questionnaire.  The respondents were asked to name their potential presidential candidate.  Big part of respondents refused to name their political sympathy.  The share of the skeptics that did not support any political subject was quite big.  These two groups form a little more than a half of the surveyed and are actually potential voters of any political party.

“As the parties had not been formed by that period, we asked the question in the following way:  “if the elections were to be held tomorrow, which of the presidential candidates would you vote for?”  Around 50% of the voters refrained from answering the question, of which 15% said that they would not vote for any candidate.  I think it is beneficial information for political subjects because this 50% is the part of the population that has yet to make a decision. This is quite a big resource for political subjects to turn this part of the public into their potential supporters”, said Nana Sumbadze.

It is interesting how the groups evaluate democracy.  A big share of the supporters of the National Movement (80.9%) considers democracy as the best form of governance.  The skeptics have the smallest share among those who think the same (57%), however further answers of the survey do not quite match with the evaluations made earlier. 

“I found most interesting evaluation of democracy by respondents.  Therefore, it is difficult to say what the respondents mean by democracy.  The survey made it clear that the National Movement supporters selected answers containing generally accepted features of democracy least frequently, while the skeptics – most frequently”, said Nana Sumbadze.