Grading Our Leaders: Analyzing Our Polls

Posted on May 31, 2011
Filed Under >Adil Najam, ATP Poll, People, Politics
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Adil Najam

Over the last two years we have asked ATP readers to grade and rate Pakistan’s power centers – the President, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the Chief of Army Staff, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Media – on five occasions: first in June 2009 (~800+ respondents) and September 2009 for the Media (~760 respondents), then in April 2010 (~875 respondents), October 2010 (~1000+ respondents), December 2010 (~725 respondents) and then earlier this month in May 2011 (~940 respondents). Between them these ATP Polls now give us a sense of how our readers view the nation’s power centers and how this view has changed over the last two years.

Although a blog poll is exactly that – a blog poll – and should not be taken any more seriously than that, there are many interesting snippets of insights in this data – as much about our readership as about our leadership. One should certainly not read too much into this because this set of respondents, although large, is probably not representative of anything except of who reads this blog; but what can certainly be gauged from this is how the opinion of this constant cohort has changed over time and with unfolding events. I will leave it to our readers to dig (or not) deeper into these insights, but here are at least a few that jump out in preliminary analysis (two prior analyses of this evolving data are available here and here).

  • First, and quite clearly, our readers are one tough set of graders. Personally, I think too tough (and sometimes too cynical). I just hope no one will ever judge us with the harshness that we reserve in judging our leaders! Note that only once in these two years has any actor been rated above the C range, and that too a bare B-. And the most popular grade by far has been an F. Let me go out on a limb and suggest two findings: first, we have not been blessed with the best of leaders; we ourselves may also not be the kindest of citizenry either!
  • Having gotten that out of my system, let me also suggest that while not kind in grading, our readers areĀ  fairly consistent graders. The first two graphs above depict the GPA equivalent from the polls and therefore demonstrates a wider fluctuation, but as the table (third figure) shows, the grades that this translates to has been remarkably consistent – except for one actor, but more on that later. While the first two figures have been sized to highlight the fluctuations, the fluctuations are certainly not erratic.
  • The most remarkable result that emerges is in the grading of the Army Chief, General Kiyani. The dramatic drop in our readers assessment of his performance in the most recent poll (May 2011) is not surprising because this poll followed the Abbottabad operation by the US, but what is as remarkable is that this drop has been creeping in consistently. The first poll (June 2009) saw him getting a grade of B- largely with readers arguing that he was performing well as Army Chief because he was (a) not interfering in politics and (b) acting against insurgents and extremists. The next two polls (April and October 2010) saw his grade going down to C+ but still high for this cohort. The fourth poll (December 2010) saw him slip to a C and finally the May 2011 poll had him nearly at the bottom of the pile with a D. The dramatic drop is evident in the first figure which charts not just the grade but the GPA equivalent of the Poll scores. What is evident here – and what is important to note – is that the drop in reader perception of the Military’s performance is not sudden but has been building up.
  • Amongst the government leaders, neither President Zardari nor Prime Minister Gillani are very popular amongst our readers, but the Prime Minister is relatively more popular. Both seemed to have fared better in these polls in April 2010 – which was held in proximity to the passage of the 18th Amendment – than in any other installment. Both have shown an uptick in the most recent poll.
  • Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has received consistent support at a C+/C level over these two years. A more careful analysis of the data also shows that unlike other actors he does not get as many F (failing) grades, which in many other cases really tilt the result.
  • Opposition Leader Nawaz Sharif has also had a rough ride, starting with a C in the first poll and then settling into a D in all subsequent ones. Certainly in more recent polls Mr. Nawaz Sharif’s grades have been most consistent with those of President Zardari – neither seem to be inspiring much confidence in our readers.
  • The media tends to be rated somewhat similarly to the Chief Justice – a consistent C/C-, but more C- than C; our readers seem more skeptical of the media’s performance than of the Chief Justice’s; but, obviously, neither is inspiring great bouts of public appreciation and support.

Looking and thinking about the results of these polls, taken together, was quite instructive for me. Most importantly for the third point above (declining evaluation of the military chief), but also for the insights into our readership. Do please let us know how you would interpret these results.

20 responses to “Grading Our Leaders: Analyzing Our Polls”

  1. Safia Liaqat says:

    Poor performance by the government all around, shame on all of us:

  2. Usman says:

    Ive read the post…. I don’t know, whether i should doubt your poll result or doubt about what ppl think (either who are on ur website or on as a whole)

    I couldn’t understand that how Gillani who never do anything, saying yes and yes to everyone, on whatever side they could be, got D+.

    I couldn’t understand that how CJ’s popularity decreased december 2010 and then increased after it… I couldn’t understand that what steps he took after it that his popularity increased…

    I couldn’t understand that what the hell zardari have done till april 2010 that his popularity was so much at that time!!!!

    I dont even understand what Pakistani media was doing in october 2010 that they were getting so much of bad image…

    I couldn’t understand it either that still Gillani is more popular then NS!!!! How, How, How!!!!

    I couldn’t understand that How Nawaz Sharif and Zardari be at the same grade…!!!! No matter how silent is opposition party or whether they’ve expelled PPP from Punjab govt; or whether they haven’t supported this so called Relieving Budget for the poor people of the country in which duty on imported cars are lifted and put more taxes on agricultural equipments, fertilizers and so many related things etc or not; whether Nawaz is speaking up on genuine country wide issue; whether Nawaz doesn’t go up on personal attacks; whether they never TARGET anyone but saying that solve the issues like this (telling the ways) and we’ll have no problem with u….. BUT u’ve put both of them on the same grade…!!!

    I couldn’t understand all this at all!!!!!!

  3. Shah says:

    I wish you would add Imran Khan in this poll too.

  4. Atif Iqbal says:

    The Country’s only bad luck is its people not Leaders. Leaders come from People. I think Nawaz Sharif is however a better choice among available due to his business approach. None of the country can be strong un till its economy is strong, defence alone is not enough to save the country.

  5. Aqil says:

    I’m inclined to agree that we are hard graders in the sense that if we were asked to list down the things they have to do in order to get good grades from us, many of the things we would demand would not be realistically possible for any leader.

    Yet at the same time we have a lot of tolerance too. We have allowed our army to do what it has been doing for 6 decades and we also keep bringing back the same politicians (remember the chorus of ‘bring BB and NS back’) during the Musharraf period?)

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