TNS Emor finally dropped another poll on us, less than a week before votes are to be tallied in the world's first-ever parliamentary election where citizens can cast their votes via Internet.
The Estonian polling outfit also predicted that Keskerakond will win 35 seats in the next Riigikogu, four more seats than Reformierakond. Emor predicts that Isamaa-Res Publica Liit will earn 15 seats, Eestimaa Rahvaliit 8 seats, Rohelised 7 seats, and the Sotsid 6 seats.
This polling data tells us a few things. The first is that Res Publica has failed to hang onto the voters it earned during the last parliamentary elections in 2003. Those voters have likely gone elsewhere, probably to the Greens and to Reform.
The second thing this polling shows us is that Reform has built its electoral base over the last few years. They currently have 19 seats. If they win 31 seats they will have increased their representation in the Riigikogu by over 60 percent. This shows us that Reform is gathering strength, even if Savisaar wins the most votes on Sunday.
Several factors that I believe this poll fails to take into account are the solidity of IRL's support, the solidity of the Green's support, and the extent to which Internet voting will favor certain portions of the electorate -- younger, educated, urban -- over others -- less well off, rural, no laptop.
In the first case, since I am surrounded by Isamaa voters, even here in Tartu, I have to say that their base is loyal and will vote. When I see teenage girls wearing IRL sallid and nearly every person I ask is voting IRL, then I'd have to say that, using my own compass, their base will turn out. I expect them to get more seats than TNS Emor has pegged using its numbers.
The second case is that these polls -- and the spectre of Savisaar's victory and appointment as prime minister -- may discourage some of those leaning Rohelised to bite the bullet and vote for Reform or IRL, parties that have certainly lost support to Mr. Strandberg's party. I expect that Rohelised will get five or six seats in the end, not seven.
Finally, what kind of people are favored by Internet elections? Those with access to the Internet. That means that Kesk's older, rural supporters will have a harder time voting than, say, Reform's supporters. All of this doesn't mean that Savisaar won't still come out on top on Sunday, but it doesn't make me believe that his appointment as prime minister is inevitable.
Who, by the way, will form a coalition with Keskerakond?