The PNP was swimming naked
(Days after the February 25 general election, veteran pollster Bill Johnson did a snap analysis of the outcome which is provided below.)
"Only when the tide goes out do you know who's been swimming naked." -- Warren Buffett
Jamaica being Jamaica, for the foreseeable future, we're probably going to be arguing over whether the People's National Party (PNP) lost the recent election or if the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won it.
And if the PNP lost it, was this because of macro factors such as perceptions of its performance or its election strategy, or was it the result of the weaknesses of certain individual Members of Parliament.
The following snap analysis is meant to stimulate discussion and is based on the table below.
(Note: Numbers for 2016 are preliminary and not final at this point).
Votes for the Two Major Parties
2011 - 464,064
2016 - 432,353
*PNP received 93% of the votes in 2011 in 2016
2011 - 405,920
2016 - 436,459
*JLP received 108% of the votes in 2011 in 2016
The 11 constituencies lost by the PNP that it won in 2011:
St Andrew West Rural
St Andrew East Rural
St Mary Western
St Andrew South West
St James Central
St James West Central
St Elizabeth South West
St Elizabeth South East
St Catherine East Central
*The overall PNP vote was seven per cent less this year than it was in 2011.
The loss was larger than seven per cent in six of the 11 constituencies it lost and thus one could argue that, compared to their PNP peers, the following constituencies underperformed in this election (when the tide went out).
% of 2011 PNP Vote
St. Elizabeth South West - 83%
St. Mary West - 84%
St. James West Central - 86%
St. James Central* - 87%
Hanover East* - 88%
St. Elizabeth South East - 90%
*New PNP candidate this year.
Similarly, the total JLP vote was eight per cent higher this year than in the last election.
It was less than this in two of the 11 constituencies it won from the PNP this year (when the tide went out).
% of 2011 JLP Vote:
Hanover East - 97%
St. Elizabeth South East - 103%
This poor performance, compared to the national JLP average gain of 108%, means the PNP would have won these two seats (and thus retained control of the government by a 33 to 30 margin) if it had managed to get the same number of votes this year as it did in 2011.
PNP 2011 - 6,853
JLP 2016 - 6,388
St. Elizabeth South East
PNP 2011 - 9,902
JLP 2016 - 9,211
Based on the fact that they outperformed the PNP national average, all other things being equal, it would be difficult to argue that the PNP losses in the following five constituencies can be blamed on the individual candidates and the campaigns they ran.
Rather, it appears to be at least partially based on the national political environment. (In other words, these candidates were fully clothed when the tide went out).
% of 2011 PNP Vote
St. Andrew East - 106%
St. Ann South West - 105%
St. Catherine East Central - 100%
St. Andrew East Rural - 98%
St. Andrew West Rural - 97%
- Bill Johnson has been a successful pollster for more than 50 years. In addition to Jamaica, Johnson has recently conducted polls in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, United States and the United Kingdom.