Ruling and Opposition party youth arms drill down on poll results

PRESIDENT of the People’s National Party Youth Organisation (PNPYO) Gabriela Morris is of the view that more Jamaicans are warming up to the Opposition party’s leader, Mark Golding, as a potential prime minister, based on recently released poll results.

The poll, which was commissioned by the PNP in June, shows it with a five percentage point lead over the Andrew Holness-led Government, and shows both leaders in a tight race for popularity.

Morris told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday that the poll results indicate that Jamaicans are seeing where Golding “has made efforts to propose solutions, where he has made efforts to really display a style of leadership and integrity that is befitting of a prime minister”.

“I think that once people get to know him, and once people continue to hear his ideas and plans, then his results will increase significantly. The prime minister, on the other hand, his ratings continue to decline, particularly because Jamaicans perceive an air of arrogance from him and I think that has been one of the most significant concerns — the style of leadership that we have been receiving, the criticism of the electorate when people are not in league with his decisions — it’s off-putting for many Jamaicans,” she said.

The PNP, at a press conference called at its Old Hope Road headquarters to release the findings on Tuesday, said the poll was conducted between June 8 and 14 among 1,012 registered voters, aged 18 years and older. It has a margin of error of three per cent.

According to the poll, when researchers asked respondents which party they would vote for if an election were held now, 30.2 per cent said the PNP, while 25 per cent chose the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

On the question of the popularity of PNP President Mark Golding and JLP leader Holness, the poll found that 53.2 per cent of respondents said they had a positive view of Golding, compared to 54.5 per cent who preferred Holness.

Additionally, when the individuals polled were asked if they felt the governing party is deserving of another term in office, 47.6 per cent said no; 31.6 per cent said yes; while 20.8 per cent said they were unsure.

Morris said the results are in line with public sentiment, where many Jamaicans have been very vocal about their displeasure “and have really fallen out of favour with the JLP, and with its leader”.

“I think that in 2016 and 2020 the Government would have made some promises to the people and many Jamaicans feel as though those promises have been left unfulfilled. When Jamaicans look at the leadership that they have been getting from the JLP they are now seeing a string of scandals; they are expressing displeasure with even how the compensation review was handled; they’re looking at…questions about corruption and integrity. Overall, I think the people feel failed because the Government has not been able to address significantly some critical areas like education, health care, and crime, which continues to be a big concern for most Jamaicans,” she said.

However, according to president of the JLP’s young professional affiliate, Generation 2000 (G2K), Shane Kerr, the poll numbers are just a smokescreen for the internal turbulence in the PNP, “and is another attempt to try to present their leader in a favourable light, but those attempts continue to be futile”.

He said that the PNP played on the emotions of the electorate by commissioning the poll during a period when the Government was undertaking economic stabling policies/programmes, such as the compensation review which was not viewed favourably by some citizens.

“The public emotions at that time would have factored in any poll conducted. In addition, the PNP-commissioned poll was geared to measure where PNP is after three years of campaigning and promoting an unfavourable leader. The many accomplishments by this Government, like record housing solutions, increases in minimum wage, et cetera, have attracted and maintained the confidence of voters and, with the announcement of further related benefits, will be the determining factor,” he said.

He added that, even while taking into consideration the emotions of the public, he believes the Andrew Holness-led Government has proven to be one that gets things done for the benefit of Jamaicans, even if the decisions may be unpopular at the moment.

“The JLP, however, must not lose focus and should continue to put corrective programmes in place in areas that may have caused any form of fall-off. The prime minister, in recent pronouncements, have shown that this is the direction that will be taken,” he said.

The JLP in a release on Tuesday afternoon had rejected the poll as “fictitious and contrived”, noting that its findings are designed to artificially influence public opinion.

“The release of [the] party-sponsored poll is part of the PNP’s propaganda and misinformation campaign intended to shore up a weak leader, sow discontent, and distract the country with political mischief,” JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang said.

The survey was conducted by pollster Don Anderson.