Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
A recent Gleaner-Bill Johnson poll found that the majority of voters in Eastern St Andrew are yet to see or meet either Dr Saphire Longmore of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) or André Hylton of the People's National Party (PNP), both of whom are contesting the seat in the upcoming general election.
According to the data, only 29 per cent of the voters have seen or met Longmore in their community recently.
That, however, is not surprising as the medical doctor was parachuted into the constituency only a few weeks ago to replace the JLP's previous standard-bearer and sitting member of parliament, Dr St Aubyn Bartlett.
The PNP's Hylton has been working the constituency for some time and does a little better than Longmore, with 36 per cent of the people saying they have seen or met him in their community in recent weeks.
But that should be little comfort for Hylton, as 43 per cent of the residents say they don't know him enough to decide if they like or dislike him.
Twenty-nine per cent of the residents say they have a favourable opinion of Hylton while 28 per cent say they have an unfavourable opinion.
It is a similar case for Longmore, with the majority of residents (53 per cent ) saying they don't know her enough to form an opinion.
The pollster also found that 26 per cent of the people have a favourable opinion of Longmore while 21 per cent view her in a negative light.
With the voters yet to really know either Longmore or Hylton, a large portion of the electorate in the constituency, 36 per cent, is still undecided as to which of the two they would want to represent them in Parliament.
However, 34 per cent say they would want Longmore as their MP while 30 per cent say Hylton.
With voters having to make a choice come December 29, it appears that most persons who go into the polling stations will be forgetting the candidates and casting their ballots along party lines, with 40 per cent indicating that they would vote JLP and 35 per cent planning to vote PNP.
That would be well below the 48 per cent who said they placed their vote for Bartlett in 2007, or the 42 per cent who said they voted for the PNP's Dr Trevor Munroe in that election.
party by tradition
Most of the persons who say they plan to vote Labour this time (around 34 per cent) say that's because it has been their party by tradition.
A further 18 per cent say the JLP is better than the PNP, while 16 per cent believe it is doing a good job of running the country and 14 per cent want Prime Minister Andrew Holness to continue in that job.
Similarly, the majority of the people planning to vote for the PNP (31 per cent) are diehard Comrades. A further 14 per cent say they are planning to vote PNP because it would do a better job of running the country, and 12 per cent say it is better than the JLP.
A sizeable group of 26 per cent of the people in the constituency is still undecided (11 per cent), will not vote (13 per cent) or refused to say how they will vote.
Of that group, 15 per cent told the Gleaner-Johnson team that they are still thinking where to cast their vote. Four per cent of the respondents said they will vote for anyone who gives them a job and four per cent said they will vote for the candidate or the party who pays them.
The Eastern St Andrew poll was conducted by the Johnson team on December 2 and 4. The pollsters interviewed 480 persons, with a sampling margin of error of plus or minus five per cent.