Wed | Aug 23, 2017

'PNP gains momentum'

Published:Saturday | February 13, 2016 | 2:35 PM

AN INCREASING number of Jamaicans are of the view that things are heading in the right direction, a Gleaner-commissioned poll has found, leading the pollster to conclude that this reflects positive momentum for the governing People’s National Party (PNP) leading into the upcoming general election.

Poll participants were asked: “Generally speaking, do you think things in Jamaica are going in the right direction these days, or are they going in the wrong direction?” Twenty-eight per cent of respondents said that things were heading in the right direction. The polls were conducted over four consecutive days, from February 4 to 7, among 1,200 Jamaicans by pollster Bill Johnson. The survey has a sampling error of three per cent.

“In the midst of a political campaign, the most important thing is momentum,” Johnson told The Gleaner.

“There is a view that many people have it that things have turned around.” Of those who said that the country was heading in the right direction, 73 per cent said that they would be voting for the PNP, while six per cent said that they would vote for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

Of those who said that the country was heading in the wrong direction, 14 per cent said that they would be voting for the PNP and 43 per cent for the JLP. It is the first time since the December 2011 general election that nearly a third of Jamaicans are so upbeat about the direction in which the country is heading.

In those polls, conducted two weeks before the December 29 election, Johnson found that 27 per cent of Jamaicans found the country was heading in the right direction. At that time, the JLP held the reins of power.

Most Jamaicans at that time – 54 per cent – were of the view that the country was heading in the wrong direction. The JLP went into the election with a razor-thin majority in the then 60-seat House of Representatives – 32 to 28 – and was booted from power.

OPTIMISTIC VIEW

The optimistic view that an increasing number of Jamaicans seem to have about the direction in which the country is heading comes at the height of general election campaign activities across the island.

Jamaica votes for a new government on February 25. Johnson’s survey data reveal that within two years of the PNP coming to power in January 2012, only nine per cent of Jamaicans felt that the country was heading in the right direction.

At the same time, 74 per cent of the country said that the country was heading in the wrong direction.

The portion of Jamaicans who thought that the country was heading in the wrong direction dipped to 68 per cent in September, while those who thought that the country was going in the right direction increased by five percentage points from nine per cent in 2014 to 14 per cent in 2015.

Asked who should be happier with the response to the question, Johnson said the PNP. “Their people were complaining for the first couple of years, and it seems they are now seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

They are more optimistic that things are going to get better,” Johnson said. Johnson’s polls show that Jamaicans, at this point, have a better outlook about the direction in which the country is heading than residents of the United States (US) do about their country.

The New York Times’ January 7-10 poll found that 27 per cent of Americans said that country was heading in the right direction; 65 per cent said that that the US was heading in the wrong direction; and eight per cent gave no answer. That poll was conducted among 1,276 adults across the US. It had a margin of error plus or minus three per cent.