Washington Times routinely adds the following warning notice to its web based opinion polls: "This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate." This just about sums up the validity of 'voodoo' opinion polls conducted through the net or SMS. Keeping this in mind, is there any significance to the opinion polls conducted during the last two weekends by DhiFM?
As the graph above shows, Anni led both the opinion polls with a wide margin. In fact from the first to the second poll Anni increased his share of votes from 3969 (40.7%) to 5344 (49.2%). This gain has come at the expense of the second and third candidates, Maumoon and Hassan Saeed. Maumoon's vote share dropped from 2362 (24.2%) to 2005 (18.5%); while Hassan Saeed's share dropped from 2341 (24%) to 2121 (19.5%). Interestingly, since Hassan's percentage drop was a bit smaller, he edged past Maumoon to the second position.
Among the remaining candidates Gasim (9.6%) and Umar (2.7%) had improved upon their past performance, while Ibra had slipped lower. (The percentages given here were calculated after deducting the votes polled by Dr. Waheed, Jaaney and Muiz, who are no longer presidential candidates. Thus these figures will differ slightly from the original DhiFM figures.)
All of us present in Male during the last two weekends know that there was a frenzy of SMS passing through Dhiraagu and Wataniya networks, frantically urging supporters to vote between 11 and 12 pm. Apparently many people who received the SMS simply ignored it. Otherwise the total should have been considerably higher.
The SMS poll certainly does not reflect the opinions of the 200,000 odd voters in the Maldives. But it does reflect something: the organizing capacities of the different political parties and the enthusiasm of their supporters. Will such organizing capacity and enthusiasm make a difference in bringing out voters to the polling stations on 8th October? The answer seems fairly obvious.