Fri | Feb 21, 2020

PNP facing uphill task, poll shows

Published:Tuesday | March 26, 2019 | 12:21 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer

The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is facing an uphill task to supersede and replace the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in popularity, according to Martin Henry’s reading of the RJRGLEANER-commissioned Don Anderson poll on the rating of the party, as well as its leader, Dr Peter Phillips.

“What is even more telling is that the leader is trailing the party in terms of the favourable ratings,” he told The Gleaner yesterday.

This was in response to the 42 per cent negative rating on the performance of the party, with 43 per cent average, and 15 per cent positive, from the 1,003 respondents polled islandwide on the issue between February 15 and March 3.

Phillips got a 51 per cent negative rating, with 37 per cent of respondents assessing his performance as average and 12 per cent giving him a positive rating.

In the absence of comparative poll findings for the JLP and its leader, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, on the same issues, the public commentator said the results would have some consequences in terms of leadership recalibrations within the PNP. However, Henry acknowledged that polls were fairly temporary snapshots of current moods.

“Dr Peter Phillips would either have a lot of work to do to raise the ratings of the party and himself, or at some point in the future consider whether he is the best candidate for leadership, especially trending towards the next general election, which the Government seems to be approaching with a fair degree of strength despite the scandals,” Henry said.

The RJRGLEANER-Don Anderson polls have a margin of error of plus or minus five per cent.

Henry also argued that although the JLP unseated the PNP by a mere 32-31 seats in the House of Representatives on February 25, 2016 – now 33-30 – this should not be interpreted as an indication of a fallout in support.

He explained: “I have always held the view that although the JLP was marginally elected in 2016, the popular support has not disappeared for the party. Certainly, it is not on the back foot at this point in time. It seems to be increasing its stance with the electorate.”

The by-election in Portland East will also be a kind of poll results giving an immediate voting feedback on the standing of the parties and the strength of the Government or the Opposition compared to the other side, bearing in mind that it is a very strong PNP seat, the public commentator said.