Wed | Aug 16, 2017

JLP needs record sprint to beat PNP

Published:Wednesday | February 24, 2016 | 2:00 AM
JLP spokesmen Delroy Chuck (left) and Audley Shaw do their version of Usain Bolt's signature gesture, with Labourite V-sign to boot, at the party's mass meeting in Half-Way Tree Square on Sunday. James Robertson looks on.

On Monday's 7 o'clock TVJ newscast, between the opening montage and the actual reading of the first bit of news, the PNP had four ads and the JLP had not a single one.

I cannot open anything on YouTube without seeing a PNP ad popping up. This begs the obvious question: Poll results or none, does the JLP have the funding to do the needed mopping up work all day tomorrow - that of funding personnel to get out and transport their supporters to the many polling stations islandwide?

Both the Don Anderson and Bill Johnson polls are giving the PNP the advantage of between three and four percentage points. Meanwhile, a JLP-commissioned poll conducted by Derek Ramsamooj, a political scientist and regional pollster, was showing the exact opposite - the JLP three points ahead of the PNP.

From my understanding, Ramsamooj validly selected to poll in various PDs in 13 marginal constituencies where the 2011 vote closely matched a 50:50 split for PNP and JLP. The variations were then used as guides in tabulating the overall results.

Twenty-four seats in the last election were won by fewer than 1,000 votes. The PNP won 16 and the JLP got eight. Even more interestingly, 12 of those seats were won by fewer than 500 votes.

At the last election, I heard that skulduggery had taken place in more than a few constituencies, but I would like to believe that both PNP and JLP operatives were involved, so maybe the 'inking' cancelled out the buying of votes on both sides.

The key seats to watch will be East Rural St Andrew, West Rural St Andrew, St Andrew Eastern, South West St Elizabeth, South East St Elizabeth, St James Central, St James East Central, St James West Central, St Mary Western, St Mary South Eastern, St Ann North West, St Ann South West, and Hanover Eastern.

Three key seats, based on individual poll information provided to me by private interests, indicate that the following seats are trending JLP: East Rural St Andrew, West Rural St Andrew and South West St Elizabeth.

A real humdinger of a battle is taking place in East Rural St Andrew, where big-name recognition between Imani Duncan-Price and Juliet Holness is seeing Holness as more 'connected' and Duncan-Price as somewhat 'distant', though making genuine efforts to portray herself as understanding the plight of the people.

 

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

 

In West Rural St Andrew, the polling division of Red Hills, which was won by the PNP's Paul Buchanan, seems to have slipped back into its usual JLP support. "She is a bit stubborn," a JLP operative in the constituency told me recently about candidate caretaker Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn. "We won't be caught napping like the last time around, and because she has shown more willingness to listen, we will be beating Buck at his own game."

In my Sunday column, I had stated that I expected South West St Elizabeth to slip back into the JLP's column and recently this has been supported by Bill Johnson's empirical findings. JLP candidate caretaker Floyd Green is one of the bright new kids on the block in the party and must not take it for granted that it is over until the last vote is counted tomorrow night.

Should the JLP pull off what would certainly be an electoral miracle, the leadership inside the JLP will be a settled one. I say a miracle notwithstanding Ramsamooj's findings. Our local pollsters' findings have energised the PNP and its machinery at this stage is running on jet fuel.

The very fact that the JLP's ad buys have been so outnumbered by the PNP's points to shortage of funds by the JLP and the need to allocate what is there to election-day activities. My fear for the JLP is that that will not be enough.

Radio and TV ads reinforce in the mind of the party supporter that the party has 'presence' and that it is ready and the machine is humming. When JLP supporters sit in front of their television sets and all they see are PNP ads, it sends them an unpleasant message.

It says my party is not ready and 'is pure bruk-pocket business' taking place, not an attitude a party needs its likely voters to be in.

Conventional wisdom still supports the PNP retaining governmental power. Should that happen, the JLP will rue the day it did not finish the business on Andrew Holness it started in early last year.

- Mark Wignall is a political analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and observemark@gmail.com.