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Jamaicans have more faith in JLP - Many believe Holness-led party would provide better leadership at this time

Published:Sunday | October 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

At least three of every 10 Jamaicans are undecided as to which of the two major political parties would best steer the country through the current choppy economic seas made worse by the chikungunya outbreak and the threat of Ebola reaching our shores.

Among those who have settled on either party, the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) enjoys the confidence of the majority - 40 per cent of Jamaicans - while the People's National Party (PNP), led by Portia Simpson Miller, is getting 26 per cent support.

This represents a significant loss of political capital by the PNP when compared to 2011, while the JLP has remained almost unchanged.

That's the finding of the latest Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll conducted from September 6-7 and 13-14 with a sample size of 1,208 and a sampling margin of +3%/-3%.

In December 2011, Johnson had found that 41 per cent of Jamaicans believed the PNP, then in Opposition, would do the better job in Government, compared to 39 per cent for the JLP.

The PNP has slipped by a significant 15 percentage points over the near three years that it has formed the Government after its decisive win in the 2011 general election, but its loss has not been the JLP's gain as despite being in Opposition, where it has the luxury of criticising the administration without being challenged to implement its plans, Holness and his team gained an insignificant one percentage point.

Instead, persons turned off by the PNP have moved to the ranks of the undecided, which, in December 2011, stood at 20 per cent and has since swelled to 34 per cent.

This is consistent with the other responses gathered by Johnson in the first local midterm public opinion poll.

Johnson also found that fewer Jamaicans have a favourable opinion of Simpson Miller and the PNP now than shortly before the 2011 general election, and that if an election were called today, the JLP would win, with about 60 per cent of the votes cast.

However, that would reflect a fraction of persons eligible to vote as 58 per cent of those enumerated say they would not vote if a general election were called today.

PRESSURE ON PNP

To compound the midterm malady for the PNP, Holness (46%) enjoys a 20 percentage point lead over Simpson Miller (26%) as the person Jamaicans believe would do the better job of prime minister at this time, up from a three percentage point lead he enjoyed shortly before the 2011 elections.

And if the signals were not clear enough for the PNP that it needs to take stock of its performance at this halfway mark, Johnson also found that Audley Shaw (40%), the man many see as the likely replacement for Holness if he should step down as JLP leader at this time, also leads Simpson Miller (31%) as the person Jamaicans believe would do the better job as prime minister.