There is an old saying: “It’s no use locking the barn door after the horse has bolted.” That was the first thing that came to our minds when we discovered the Institute of Policy Studies has come out with survey findings on how our electorate views various aspects of the political landscape here.It found that the traditional “bread and butter” issues are not what matter most to the people of Singapore. Instead, it discovered that the people’s top interests are efficient and fair government, and the need for checks and balances in Parliament. A quick visit to the institute’s website found page after page of statistical analyses.It is all quite bewildering to the non-statistician. And all completely after the fact.Since everywhere else in Singapore’s policymaking world, actions are launched only after endless rounds of surveys, feasibility studies, focus group discussions, feedback unit input, trial runs (and now also bottom-up policy discussions by students) etc., we would have expected that such a bid to discover what the electorate considers important would have been made before the general election. Instead, it is done after the general election is good and over.Had it been done earlier, we would all have had ringside seats to a much more interesting and relevant election campaign by all parties concerned. Now it seems that so many throats had been made sore by pontificating about things that few actually cared about. What a waste of Strepsils and standing in muddy fields.Some may suggest that the survey findings will be relevant for the next GE. But by then people’s interests, needs and wants might have changed—along with their demographics. The electorate will no longer be divided just between the pre-Independence and post-Independence (break point 1959, 1963 or 1965—depending on your preference) groups. It will also exhibit the pre-Internet and post-Internet (break point circa 1986) division.Who knows? The survey schedulers may even have electronic calendars to help them plan ahead.