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PNP by default? - Study shows undecided tired of ruling party but no love for the JLP

Published:Thursday | February 11, 2016 | 12:00 AM

People's National Party (PNP) could return to form the Government almost by default, after the votes are counted on February 25, as a sizeable number of the undecided voters do not see the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) as a viable alternative.

That is part of the findings of university lecturer Dr Herbert Gayle, based on a recent study dubbed 'Why Jamaicans vote: Implications for who wins the 2016 general election'.


"Respondents who expressed uncertainty about voting in the 2016 general election provided a number of reasons for their state of indecision," said Gayle, following the study, which used integrated methodology as its main approach with the assistance of qualitative and historical material.

"The biggest problem for respondents was that they had become tired of the ruling party, PNP, but did not see the JLP as a viable option. This group made up almost a third of the undecided," added Gayle.

The JLP, which is trailing the PNP by four percentage points in at least one recent national poll, has targeted the uncommitted on the campaign trail with its message of moving 'from poverty to prosperity'. However, Gayle's study indicates that a significant number of potential voters have not yet bought into the idea.

"One of the most revealing pieces of data on the plight of the JLP is the fact that 12 young persons from diehard families expressed: 'I know my party will lose'," said Gayle.

"When compared to the young people that will vote for the JLP in the study (121), this group represents a 10 per cent loss. Half of this group further expressed that: The JLP know they cannot win in the state they are in, but (are) just there hustling - that is why everybody bring in their family, rather than focus on how to win."



According to Gayle, apart from the young people, a significant number of JLP supporters or sympathisers also expressed the view that their party cannot win this time around.

"Additionally, six per cent of respondents either like the leader of the JLP but not the party, or the party but not the leader - which suggests that the two are seen by some Jamaicans as separated," said Gayle.

"This problem is much less among PNP (supporters), who seem much closer knitted throughout the study. Note that only two per cent of the group has this problem with the PNP and its leader," added Gayle.

The university professor and his team conducted the study from November 15, 2015 to January 10. They concluded that the PNP will get 33 per cent of the popular vote and at least 36 of the 63 seats while the JLP will get 27 per cent of the votes and at least 18 seats.

Gayle said the stringent sampling did not allow his team to predict the outcome of the other nine seats.