Quad Research surveyed 700 citizens on national-level beliefs on 1-4 April and published on 21 April, two months before the Writ of Election was issued on June 23, 2020. Here are the key findings.
Between 1-4 April 2020, 53% of Singaporeans had not yet decided on their vote (“late-deciders”), while 33% had already definitely decided to vote for the People’s Action Party (PAP) and 14% for the Opposition. These April findings had a 4.0% margin of error at the 95% level of confidence.
On 10 July 2020 three months after our survey, 61% of Singaporeans voted for the PAP and 39% for the Opposition. Assuming that the decided voters remained loyal to party affiliations, this means that out of the 53% of voters that were late-deciders, 25% broke for the Opposition in July instead of 20% leaning towards the Opposition in April.
Here are possible contributory factors that led to this result:
National Choice Rationale: In April 2020, our research showed that the top reasons for voting for their political party were: party loyalty (29%), party promises (17%), and best Prime Minister candidate (15%).
Compared to our 2015 survey, the 2020 survey found that more people would vote based on party loyalties (increase from 14% to 29%). Fewer people would decide their vote based on their level of trust in a political party’s motives (decrease from 19% to 10%) and choosing the best local candidate regardless of party (decrease from 21% to 13%).
From 2015 to 2020, 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%.
Late-Deciding Swing Voters: Between 1-4 April 2020, 53% of Singaporeans had not yet decided on their vote. The Institute of Policy Studies found that in the 2015 General Election, 46% of Singaporeans were still uncertain of their vote by Nomination Day, 10 days before Polling Day.
Our research shows that compared to decided voters, “late-decider” voters were significantly more likely to base their choice on party promises and the best local candidate regardless of party. They were significantly less likely to choose based on party loyalty and senior party members forming a more competent government.
Pandemic & Government Response: Between 7 April and 31 May 2020, Blackbox Research’s weekly polling found that:
- “Singaporeans largely thought that the Government had handled the crisis pretty well up until the end of May.”
- However, “uncertainty, frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, and sadness dominated the emotions of Singaporeans”
- Furthermore, 50% of Singaporeans felt that the "Circuit Breaker measures were implemented too late".
Pessimism on the Economy: International research shows consensus that consumer confidence and economic outlook are significant factors for electoral outcomes. Between 1-4 April 2020, 57% of Singaporeans surveyed believed that economic conditions were getting worse. This belief was consistent across party affiliations in 2020. Similarly, Blackbox found in April that 64% of Singaporeans expected to be financially worse off in 2020 compared to 2019.
Between April to July 2020, the population continued to receive news of worsening economic conditions, ranging from official downgrades of Singapore’s GDP forecast, unemployment rate “climbing to its highest in a decade”, and increasing pessimism by economists.
Increased Party Loyalty & Enthusiasm: Prior research has shown that voter enthusiasm significantly drives electoral outcomes. From 2015 to April 2020, PAP voters’ party loyalty rose from 17% to 30%, and Opposition voters saw a similar shift with party loyalty rising from 8% to 28%. From 2015 to 2020, Singaporeans who are enthusiastic promoters of the PAP rose nationally from 19% to 24%, and the WP from 6% to 10%. Furthermore, 96% of registered voters in Singapore voted in 2020, compared to 94% in 2015.
Campaigning Effectiveness: We recommend further research on measuring the impact of electioneering by Singapore's political parties on late-deciding voters. Prior research in other countries found significant impact from effective campaign tactics, ranging across candidate quality, on-the-ground voter contacts to online and social media outreach.
In conclusion, we look forward to upcoming research releases from Blackbox Research and the “Perception of Policies in Singapore” (POPS) Post-Election Survey by the Institute of Policy Studies at the National University of Singapore. You can read Quad Research’s full report including additional results, methodology, and charts at www.quad.sg/2020.
Quad Research believes 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.