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IRI polls: 72% of respondents will vote based on the party’s economic policy

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, September 18
International Republican Institute (IRI) has released the public opinion poll results according to which ‘sustained support’ for the government’s management of COVID-19 as well as “persistent anxiety over the economy are motivating citizens to go to the polls on October 31.”

The polls say that if the elections were held this Sunday, the ruling Georgian Dream party would be the first choice for 33% of voters and second choice for 3% of voters. Most of the voters remain undecided.

The poll revealed that if parliamentary elections were held this Sunday, 36% would vote for the ruling Georgian Dream party. the United National Movement has the highest rating among opposition parties - 15%, European Georgia and Giorgi Vashadze's party Strategy Builder enjoy the support of 4% of the population, Alliance of Patriots – 4% for each, Labor Party – 3%, 2% would vote for Aleko Elisashvili’s Civic Movement/Citizens, Lelo for Georgia, and 2%- Girchi, 3% said none, while 23% said do not know/did not answer.

According to the poll, 90% of respondents say they intend to vote in the 2020 parliamentary elections. Specifically, 74% say they will most likely run in the election. 16% even say they are likely to vote. 4% of respondents say they are unlikely to run in the election. And 5% are more likely to abstain from voting.

72% of respondents said the party’s economic policy would most likely determine their vote in the upcoming polls, while 56% said healthcare and security policy, 17% said education policy, while the vision for judicial reform was named by 13%. Foreign policy was named by 10% (respondents could name two answers to the question).

33% of respondents said personalities of candidates in a specific political party will be the most important factor in determining their vote, followed by past performance/track record – with 23% and candidate party affiliation – 15%. Platform/program/promises were named by 14%.

Responding to the question of whether they are familiar with the election programs of the parties and candidates running in their cities/districts/villages, 7% of respondents said they are familiar, 35% are somewhat familiar, 25% said somewhat unfamiliar, while 26% are unfamiliar.

44% of respondents said the parliamentary majority should appoint the next Prime Minister, 36% said the parliamentary multiparty coalition should do so, 20% don’t know.

As for the country’s direction, 54% said Georgia is going in the wrong direction (down from 68% in October) and 35% said it goes in the right direction, up from 22% in October. Younger generations (aged 19-29) are more prone to name right direction (39% – right direction, 50% says the wrong direction), as opposed to those above 50 (33% – right direction, 56% – wrong direction).

11% are very satisfied with the state of democracy in the country (9% in October 2019), 40% are somewhat satisfied (33% in Oct 2019), 25% are somewhat unsatisfied (27% in October 2019), 19% are very unsatisfied (24% in Oct’19). Respondents above 50 are less satisfied with the level of democracy in the country compared to the younger generations.

Reckoning increased proportional representation in the 150-member Parliament (from 77 to 120), 17% said the change will very positively affect the democratic development of the country, 38% said somewhat positively, 12% responded somewhat negatively, 6% said very negatively. 27% provided no answer/don’t know.

When asked to cite the government’s main accomplishments, the fight against COVID-19 topped the list (22 %), with healthcare reform following in second place (12 %). 37% said they are very satisfied with the government’s response to COVID-19, 45% said somewhat satisfied, 11% and 6% are somewhat unsatisfied and very unsatisfied, respectively.

As for the government’s response to the economic consequences of COVID, 15% are very satisfied, 40% are somewhat satisfied, 24% are somewhat unsatisfied and 19% are very unsatisfied. The poll shows that rural residents tend to be more satisfied with the government’s efforts to address the economic consequences of the pandemic, as opposed to Tbilisites.

Unemployment remained the most important issue affecting towns and villages, with 25% of citizens ranking it first. On a household level, unemployment was also cited as a top concern, with 31 % of Georgians naming it as the most important problem.

Unemployment, economic situation, and false promises were named as the biggest failures of the incumbent government, with 10%, 9%, and 9% respectively, followed by an increase in crime, named by 6%. 9% said the GD gov’t has no failures, while 25% did not answer.

Speaking of local town/village problems, 25% named unemployment, 12% said drinking water, 7% said the economy, while 5% said roads and ecology, each.

In regards to most important household problems, 31% said unemployment, 15% said the economy, 8% said poverty, 6% said low salaries.

“I do not know the IRI and NDI surveys, I know the CRRC and IPM surveys that are not only contradictory to reality but also each other. When one company says 27% and the other- 60%...” Kobakhidze said, adding that CRRC and IPM are not the organizations that will provide the right information to important partners.

“When any research organization claims that it cannot understand from more than 27% of respondents, who they support, such an organization can be considered outright selfless,” he said, noting that he knows the research very well.

According to the Speaker of the Parliament Archil Talakvadze, the research, the results of which have been processed without allocation, does not reflect the full picture of the support of the groups who refrained from responding.

“I recommend you to look at the studies where a full-fledged analysis is given, including the allocation method used, it shows that we have a percentage higher than 56 %,” Talakvadze said.

Fieldwork for the IRI survey was conducted by the Institute of Polling and Marketing (IPM) from 4th August to 21st August 2020. Data was collected using a multistage probability sampling method through in-person, in-home interviews. The sample consists of 1,500 Georgians aged 18 and older and eligible to vote. The response rate was 75 %. The margin of error does not exceed 2.5 %.

The survey was coordinated by Dr. Rasa Alisauskiene, through public and marketing (market) research firm Baltic Surveys / The Gallup Organization, through face-to-face interviews with IRI's Center for Insights in Survey Research at respondents' homes. The study was funded by USAID.