Every new supporter constitutes an important victory for parties before elections. Even more important are efforts to mobilize recent supporters who will deliver the bulk of the party’s votes. Most parties aim their messages at core voters – you are needed to keep us in power or help us get there.
A poll ordered by Postimees and carried out by Kantar Emor paints the Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) and Pro Patria as the most successful in terms of mobilizing their voters. No fewer than 76 percent of EKRE voters said they will surely turn up to vote for the party come election day. The percentage was 71 percent for Pro Patria. Opposition leader the Reform Party can hope to see 69 percent of its voters turn up on March 3.
Center’s supporters tempted to stay home
Aivar Voog, head of marketing strategies at Kantar Emor, said that voter turnout reflects desire to be heard. This is especially true for EKRE voters whose aim is to voice protest. “In the case of Pro Patria, the figure suggests they are left with a core of very loyal supporters who are aware of the fact the party’s rating is critical,” Voog said.
The expert also said that the Reform Party has always been successful at mobilizing voters, while it has been problematic for the Center Party.
This is reflected in survey results. While those who will definitely turn up on election day make up 63 percent of Social Democrat Party (SDE) supporters, the figure is 59 percent for Estonia 200 and just 57 percent for the Center Party.
Supporters of the ruling party are clearly more passive, one reason for which is the fact many of them are non-Estonian-speakers who have traditionally been less active, Voog said.
Supporters of the Center Party include the most people who already know they will not vote or have not yet decided whether to take part in elections. 2.9 percent of Center’s supporters said they will not vote, while 16.1 percent remain undecided.
The Reform Party has the most voters planning to use e-voting at 67 percent, while 63 percent of SDE voters and 62 percent of Estonia 200 supporters plan to do the same. Only a little over one-fifth of Center Party supporters plan to vote online after the party spent years fiercely criticizing Estonia’s e-voting system.
If the Reform Party has the confidence of people who vote online, Center is king of polling stations as 60 percent of its supporters plan to turn up on election day. 57 percent of EKRE voters plan to show up at voting stations.
E-voter turnout will miss mark
Aivar Voog said that while polls suggest 43 percent of voting-age citizens will use e-voting this spring, the figure will be much more modest in reality. The reason for this is that Kantar Emor conducts its interviews online, meaning that the people it questions are more avid internet users than the average Estonian. Voog’s estimate puts the relative important of e-voting at around 30 percent.
One important election indicator is general voter turnout that reflects to which extent people care about election topics and feel now is the time to contribute.
The pollster forecasts general voter turnout at around 60 percent for the March Riigikogu elections. “Men, the elderly, people with higher education and better income are traditionally more active,” Voog said. Kantar Emor believes that voter turnout will be 65 percent for men, 75 percent for people between the ages of 65 and 84, 67 percent for people with higher income and 67 percent for people sporting a bigger income.
A higher general turnout would require an intrigue in society that would lead voters to conclude someone is under attack and needs protection. “That is what we saw during local elections in 2013, while voter turnout came to 64 percent for the 2015 Riigikogu elections,” Voog recalled.
The expert added that it is possible voter turnout will be lower this time around due to relatively sharp election campaigns. “People who do not like conflict will rather stay on the sidelines. The less spiteful the campaign, the higher the chances of more dispassionate people turning up,” Voog said.