• Previously featured by the Institute of Policy Studies at National University of Singapore, Vulcan Post, The Middle Ground, The Harbus and other publications

  • Presentation & Charts

  • Project Introduction

    Since 2015 when we conducted the first run of this survey, Singapore's political landscape has continued to evolve. The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), National University of Singapore (NUS), Blackbox Research, and other organisations continue to be leaders in deepening our understanding on how Singaporeans view key issues such as meritocracy, social mobility and social safety nets.

     

    To this end, Quad Research updated and re-ran our pioneering 2015 "How Singaporeans Choose" survey questions for 2020. This survey measures Singaporeans' perceptions on the issues that matter to them and how this affects their political choices. All questions were benchmarked to international polls. The survey was conducted between 1-4 April 2020.

     

    We hope that this project will reflect to Singaporeans how their perceptions evolve and how these perceptions influence their political choices. We believe that answering these questions is beneficial to Singapore as it enables better decisions as a community.

  • Key Findings

    Conducted between 1-4 April 2020.

    We had conducted similar research in 2015

    A sample of our previous findings for 2015:

    1. Online polling can be a reliable methodology in measuring electoral trends in Singapore
    2. Surveyed voting preferences for opposition parties differed from actual votes due to constituency limitations
    3. Singaporeans had voted for the best local candidate, party values they trust and a more competent government
    4. A majority of Singaporeans were optimistic about social mobility, the future and believed in social safety nets
    5. One in five Singaporeans could not name their Member of Parliament

    See the full list of our 2015 findings here.

    (1-4 Apr 2020) A majority of Singaporeans were open to changing their potential vote

    "How certain is your decision to vote for X at the next General Election?"

    The survey finds that between 1-4 Apr 2020, 53% of Singaporeans are still uncertain on their vote, while 47% of Singaporeans already have “definitely decided”.

     

    In the 2015 General Election, 46% of Singaporeans were still uncertain of their vote by Nomination Day, 10 days before Polling Day. These uncertain voters talked about politics less, participated online less and participated offline at rallies more (IPS, 2015).

     

    These findings are aligned with UK benchmarks. In comparison to the 2016 Brexit referendum, 36% of British adults had not yet decided on their eventual vote by March 2016, 3 months before the referendum (Ipsos Mori, 2016). In comparison to the 2019 UK parliamentary elections, 41% of British adults had not yet decided by November, a month before the elections ended (Ipsos Mori, 2019).

    (1-4 Apr 2020) 33% had already decided to vote for the PAP and 14% for the Opposition

    "If the election was called today, which party would you vote for?"

    Between 1-4 April 2020, 33% of Singaporeans had already definitely decided to vote for the PAP, 33% are uncertain and leaning for the PAP, 20% are uncertain and leaning for the Opposition and 14% have definitely decided for the Opposition.

     

    These results have a 4.0% margin of error at the 95% level of confidence.

     

    Blackbox Research has found that Singaporean satisfaction with the government has remained high from 81% in July 2017 to 82% in March 2020. In March 2020, Singaporeans were most satisfied with defence (97%), crime levels (97%), and racial relations (93%). However, they were least satisfied with motor vehicle prices (72%), gap between rich and poor (68%) and cost of living (55%) (Blackbox, 2020).

     

    In comparison to the US elections in 2020, 32% of “swing state” voters have already definitely decided to vote for Donald Trump and 33% for the Democratic nominee in November 2019, one full year before the 2020 election (New York Times, 2019).

    (1-4 Apr 2020) Singaporeans would have voted based on party loyalty, party promises and best Prime Minister

    "Here are some reasons people have given for deciding on the party they vote for. Which are the most important in your decision? Please rank them in descending priority from 1 to 7. (For example, put 1 for the most important reason, and 7 for the least important reason.)

     

    a. I would vote for who I thought was the best candidate locally regardless of their party
    b. I trust the motives and values of that party more than those of other parties
    c. I think the senior members of the party I chose would make a more competent government
    d. I have always voted for that party
    e. I think the leader of the party I chose would make the best prime minister
    f. I prefer the promises made by the party I voted for more than the promises of the other parties
    g. I would vote to register my discontent with another party"

    The top three reasons why Singaporeans chose their potential vote were: Party loyalty (29%), party promises (17%) and best Prime Minister (15%).

     

    We observe changing behavioural trends in voting preferences. In our 2015 analysis, the top 3 reasons that motivated voter choice were: the best local candidate regardless of party (21%), trust in party motives and values (19%), and choosing the most competent government based on the senior members of the party (14%).

     

    Compared to our 2015 results, the importance of party loyalty has risen from 14% to 29%, trust in party motives has dropped from 19% to 10%, and choice of best local candidate has dropped from 21% to 13%.

    Party loyalty had significantly increased for both PAP and Opposition voters from 2015 to 2020

    PAP voters’ party loyalty rose from 17% to 30%, and trust in party motives dropped from 19% to 11%. Opposition voters saw a similar shift with party loyalty rising from 8% to 28% and trust in party motives dropping from 20% to 6%.


    Furthermore, Opposition voters saw preference for party promises rising from 11% to 20%, confidence in best prime minister rising from 7% to 16%, best local candidate dropping from 26% to 12% and registering discontent with another party dropping from 20% to 9%.

     

    Party loyalty has significantly increased in the US, and to a different degree in the UK. In the United States, far more Americans see ‘very strong’ partisan conflicts in 2020 than in the last two presidential election years of 2012 and 2016 (Pew, 2020). Americans across the political spectrum strongly believe that the country will become more politically divided by 2050 (Pew, 2019). In the UK, affective polarization has increased but electoral fragmentation has increased due to Brexit and other trends that have also impacted Europe (The Policy Institute at Kings College London, 2019).

     

    We recommend further local research by other research and community organizations on this potential issue of increasing partisanship in Singapore

    (1-4 Apr 2020) Both PAP and Workers’ Party (WP) had increased their base of enthusiastic voters

    "If asked by a family member, friend or colleague, how likely are you to recommend voting for the People's Action Party/ Workers' Party?"

    Under the Net Promoter Score framework, Singaporeans who are enthusiastic promoters of the PAP have risen nationally from 19% to 24%, and the WP from 6% to 10%.

     

    In our 2015 research, we found that voting preferences for opposition parties differed from actual votes due to constituency limitations. Although our findings on the PAP vote share mirrored the national vote share, our data on opposition voting patterns differed significantly from the General Election results. This is due to the fact that we presented voters with a list of parties to choose from and asked them to indicate their top choice, regardless of constituency. Therefore, our 2015 results reflect voters' top party preferences (based on the list of parties contesting in GE2011) but does not take into account constituency limitations, such as the fact that opposition voters would not have been able to vote for their preferred opposition party if it did not contest in their constituency.

    (1-4 Apr 2020) A majority approved of the current Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister

    "Do you approve or disapprove of the way X is handling his job as Y?"

    57% of Singaporeans approve of Lee Hsien Loong as Prime Minister in 2020, and only 16% disapprove. This belief differs by party affiliation: While 71% of PAP voters approve, only 30% of Opposition voters approve.

     

    Similarly, 54% of Singaporeans approve of Heng Swee Keat as Deputy Prime Minister in 2020, and only 12% disapprove. This belief differs by party affiliation: While 68% of PAP voters approve, only 26% of Opposition voters approve.

     

    These numbers are more positive than US and UK benchmarks. Donald Trump received a job approval rating of 45% and disapproval rating of 52% as US President in March 2020 (Pew, 2020). Boris Johnson received a job approval rating of 46% and disapproval rating of 42% as UK Prime Minister in March 2020 (YouGov, 2020).

    (1-4 Apr 2020) An increasing majority believed that life for their children would be better than for the current generation

    "Which of these statements comes closest to your view, even if you don't completely agree with either of them?


    a. For most children growing up in Singapore today, life will be better than it was for their parents

    b. For most children growing up in Singapore today, life will be worse than it was for their parents"

    More Singaporeans believe that life for their children will be better than for the current generation, rising from 60% in 2015 to 69% in 2020. This belief differs by party affiliation: while 78% of PAP voters are optimistic, only 51% of Opposition voters are optimistic.

     

    In comparison, 60% of Americans are optimistic for their children (Pew, 2019). Meanwhile, 55% of British respondents in 2020 expect their children to be the same or better off than for the current generation, a significant fall from 88% in 2003 (Ipsos Mori, 2020).

    (1-4 Apr 2020) An increasing majority were optimistic about social mobility

    "Which of these statements comes closest to your view, even if you don't completely agree with either of them?

     

    a) If you work hard, it is possible to be very successful in Singapore no matter what your background.

    b) In Singapore today, people from some backgrounds will never have a real chance to be successful no matter how hard they work."

    More Singaporeans are optimistic about social mobility, rising from 57% in 2015 to 62% in 2020. This belief differs by party affiliation: 73% of PAP voters believe that Singapore has social mobility, compared to 42% of Opposition voters.

     

    In 2016, 89% of Singaporeans agreed that everyone who works hard has an equal chance to become rich (Channel News Asia & IPS, 2016).

     

    In stark contrast, the UK Social Mobility Commission found that only 35% of UK respondents were optimistic about social mobility in Britain (Social Mobility Commission & YouGov, 2019). In comparison, 70% of Americans still believe that they can achieve the “American dream” by working hard and playing by the rules, while exhibiting a stronger partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans (Gallup 2019).

    Before the "circuit-breaker", the vast majority approved of the government's response to COVID-19

    "Do you approve or disapprove of the way the current government is handling COVID-19 coronavirus in Singapore?"

    At the time of polling, prior to the implementation of April “circuit-breaker” policy measures, 88% of Singaporeans approved of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

     

    This belief differs by party affiliation: While 96% of PAP voters approve, only 72% of Opposition voters do so.


    Blackbox Research found that at the time of implementation in early-April, 90% of Singaporeans believed that the “circuit-breaker” would work and stop the virus from spreading. This is despite 50% of Singaporeans feeling that the Circuit Breaker measures should have been implemented earlier by the government (Blackbox, 2020).

     

    In comparison, 53% of Americans and 56% of British respondents in late-March 2020 approved of the way their governments responded to the coronavirus pandemic (Kantar, 2020). Research showed partisanship to this perception in America, similar to Singapore (Pew, 2020).

    (1-4 Apr 2020) The majority believed that economic conditions are getting worse

    "Right now, do you think that economic conditions in the country as a whole are getting better or getting worse?"

    Between 1-4 April 2020, 57% of Singaporeans believed that economic conditions are getting worse. This belief was similar across party affiliations in 2020.

     

    Similarly, Blackbox Research found that 64% of Singaporeans between 27-29 March expected to be financially worse off in 2020 compared to 2019. This compares to only 45% who said the same in February 2020 (Blackbox, 2020).

     

    Similarly, 47% of Americans in March 2020 believed that economic conditions were getting worse (Gallup, 2020). A similar poll found that 65% of Americans say that the outbreak will cause a recession or depression in the United States (Pew, 2020)

    (1-4 Apr 2020) An increasingly large majority believed that people have a right to social safety nets

    "Which of these statements comes closest to your view, even if you don't completely agree with either of them?

     

    a. People have a right to things like decent housing, healthcare, education and enough to live on, and the government should make sure everyone has them.
    b. People are too ready to talk about their rights - they have a responsibility to provide for themselves and should not expect the government to do so for them."

    More Singaporeans believe that people have a right to social safety nets, rising from 66% in 2015 to 73% in 2020.

     

    This belief differs by party affiliation, although to a lesser degree compared to other issues: 70% of PAP voters believe in social safety nets, and 79% of Opposition voters do so.

     

    Meanwhile, only 57% of British respondents believed people have a right to social safety nets. British partisanship on this issue was also much higher than in Singapore: While 81% of Labour voters approved of social safety nets, only 29% of Conservative voters approved (Lord Ashcroft Poll, 2017).

    (1-4 Apr 2020) A majority believed that society had reached gender equality in opportunities

    "Which of these statements comes closest to your view, even if you don't completely agree with either of them?


    a. Society has reached the point where women and men have equal opportunities for achievement

    b. Society has not reached the point where women and men have equal opportunities for achievement"

    68% of Singaporeans believe that society has reached gender equality in opportunities between men and women.

     

    This belief differs by party affiliation: While 71% of PAP voters believe so, only 61% of Opposition voters do so. While 73% of male voters believe so, only 62% of female voters do so.

     

    Ipsos in March 2020 found a similar gender gap where 54% of Singaporean men believed that Singapore has achieved gender equality whilst only 43% of women shared the same sentiment (Ipsos, 2020). Singaporeans see that the top 3 most important issues facing women and girls are: balancing work and responsibilities (41%), sexual harassment (31%) and physical violence (19%).

     

    In comparison, only 21% of Americans believe that America is very close to or has already achieved gender equality (Politico, 2019).

  • Survey Methodology

    This Quad.sg survey was conducted from 1 to 4 April with 700 valid respondents that are eligible to vote. The sample was weighted for age, race and gender to reflect the demographic composition of Singapore’s citizen population based on the 2019 Census. The results have a 4.0% margin of error at the 95% level of confidence. The survey design is accredited to NBC, Gallup, SurveyMonkey, and Pew that provided the relevant benchmarks and methodology used in the poll. Weight factors and survey questions can be found in the appendix of the presentation of charts above.

     

    To improve the accuracy of the results, surveys were delivered over the internet and all responses were anonymous. Self-administered online surveys have been proven to be better than traditional phone surveys at eliciting honest self-disclosure from respondents for sensitive topics such as community beliefs. (Pew Research, 2015).

     

    SurveyMonkey Audience allows customers to conduct research from a pool of millions of people around the world who have volunteered to participate in surveys. More information about data quality and respondent selection for SurveyMonkey Audience can be found here. Recent polls conducted include the 2015 U.K. Election, job approval ratings of Donald Trump and other case studies.

     

    We acknowledge that all surveys may be subject to multiple sources of error, including, but not limited to sampling error, coverage error, and measurement error. We welcome feedback on further research to be conducted.

     

    We are thankful for the prior research contributions of the Institute of Policy Studies, Blackbox Research, local researchers as well as similar polling by Ipsos Mori and Lord Ashcroft Polls.

  • Project Members

    About Quad Research: We believe in expanding the space for data-driven discourse and assisting in better collective decisions for Singapore’s future. We bring insight and clarity on how Singapore thinks about herself. We are a non-partisan collective of individuals acting in a personal capacity. We only publish statistically rigorous findings that are of research interest.

    Jeremy Au spoke at the Institute of Policy Studies’ flagship Singapore Perspectives conference in 2017. A proven entrepreneur, he co-founded Conjunct Consulting which has channeled over $5M of impact consulting services to over 100 social sector organizations in Singapore. Jeremy received his honor B.A. and B.S. at UC Berkeley and MBA from Harvard Business School. Honors include Forbes "30 Under 30" and he podcasts at www.jeremyau.com

    Wally Tham is the Director at Big Red Button, a leading Singaporean creative agency, which produces content for social change. He spends his time telling stories and creating experiences that move people toward action and ownership. He also helps organize StandUpForSG, a national volunteer organization, which envisions Singapore as a more gracious, creative and inspiring place.

    Jovin Leong is a student researcher and observer.

     

    He is a Masters of Science in Data Science candidate at Harvard University. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford. He has prior experience in political sociology and statistical modelling. He previously conducted research at Imaflora in Brazil and Hong Kong Shue Yan University.

    Yong Quan Tan is a student researcher and observer.

     

    He is a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts at Tufts University. He is interested in International Relations. He previously conducted research at Foreign Brief & Clinton Global Initiative University, and interned at SDI Academy, a migrant worker social enterprise.

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  • FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    Was the sample controlled for race, age or gender?

     

    We surveyed a representative sample of 700 Singapore citizens aged 21 and above. The sample was weighted for age, race, and gender to reflect the demographic composition of Singapore’s citizen population based on the 2019 Census. This is similar to the sampling methodology for the Post-Election 2015 Survey conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies. Household income data was also captured.

     

    Why online polling? Isn’t it biased?

     

    While every effort was undertaken to ensure the objectivity of the data, we also acknowledge that every survey methodology comes with its own set of biases. We chose to test a new methodology that has not, to our knowledge, been tested in a pre-election survey in the Singapore context.

     

    This was supported by prior research showing that self-administered online surveys have been proven to be better than traditional phone surveys at eliciting honest self-disclosure from respondents for sensitive topics such as community beliefs and political figures (Pew Research, 2015). With 88% of Singapore households having access to the Internet (Infocomm Development Authority, 2014), we hypothesised that online surveys would also be a good gauge of median voter sentiment for Singapore. We successfully proved the accuracy of this in our 2015 analysis.

     

    Why aren’t there more polls in Singapore?


    A number of polls have been conducted prior to or just after elections, including IPS Post-Election 2015 Survey and Blackbox Research’s work on measuring the pulse in Singapore. We selected the online polling methodology to fill the gap in previous electoral polling research in Singapore.

     

    Is it illegal to publish a poll before, during, or after elections?

     

    According to the Parliamentary Elections Act (PEA), no person is allowed to publish exit polls between the time that the writ for an election is called until the close of Polling Day. The relevant statutes are 78C and 78D.

     

    We ran the fieldwork for our survey between 1 to 4 April 2020, and published findings on national-level beliefs on 21 April 2020. The Writ of Election has not been issued as of 22 April. Polling will be restricted between the Writ of Election and Polling Day, which has also not been issued.

     

    Who commissioned this project? Who funded this project?

     

    Quad Research is an independent entity. This survey and research was funded entirely by team members acting in an individual capacity. All revenue earned from any other services will be reinvested for future public research

     

    Why did you do this research? What was your motivation for doing this research?


    Quad Research believes in the democratic process for a better Singapore. As a collective of individuals acting in a personal capacity, we believe that there is room for the advancement of political research in Singapore and that ordinary members of society are now able to undertake some of this work independently. Over the longer term, we hope that the improvement of political research will inform better decision-making by society.

     

    Can we get consulting services? Can you conduct more research for us?

     

    Please contact us via the contact form to discuss further. All revenue earned from any services will be reinvested for future public research.

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