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JLP surges ahead

Published:Thursday | December 15, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Holness 36%
Simpson Miller 32%
by Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter

The big green machine being ridden by recently crowned champion jockey Andrew Holness has surged into the lead, gaining six percentage points in the past month, as the party most likely to win the December 29 general election.

But the heavyweight orange machine, ridden by former champion jockey Portia Simpson Miller, is not yet out of the race and, with two furlongs to go before they hit the finish line, it is still anybody's race.

That's the finding of the latest Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson public-opinion poll conducted islandwide on December 10 and 12.

Johnson's team found that if the election were held today, 31 per cent of the voters would put their 'X' beside the bell, the symbol of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), while a further five per cent of the voters say they would probably vote JLP.

That gives the Holness-led party a solid 36 per cent support.

For the People's National Party (PNP), 29 per cent of voters say they would definitely put their 'X' beside its symbol, the head. A further three per cent say they would probably vote for the PNP. That leaves the Simpson Miller-led party with 32 per cent support or four percentage points behind the JLP.

With the poll having a sampling error of plus or minus four per cent, the parties are in a statistical dead heat, but what should worry the PNP is that this is the first time it has trailed the JLP in any Gleaner-Johnson poll since 2007.

The PNP's troubles are compounded by the fact that despite its campaigning over the past month, its support has remained at 32 per cent, which the Johnson team found when it tested the pulse of the nation in November.

In the meantime, the JLP has seen its support move from 29 to 36 per cent, a seven-percentage point gain since November.

The undecided population has made the expected decline as the country gets closer to election day, dropping from 13 per cent in November to nine per cent this time around, with all of those persons moving to the JLP.

The persons who say they will not vote also declined by two percentage points in the past month with the JLP again the beneficiary of that switch.

For the persons who say they will vote JLP, 34 per cent say that's because of tradition, 19 per cent say Holness deserves a chance, while 18 per cent say the party is better than the PNP.

An almost equal number of persons (36 per cent) say they will vote PNP because of tradition, 16 per cent say it would do a better job of managing the affairs of the country and 10 per cent say the PNP is better than the JLP.

Of the persons who are undecided or will not vote, 24 per cent are not interested in politics, 15 per cent say neither of the two major political parties has helped them as individuals, and a combined 26 per cent say neither the PNP nor the JLP has helped the country and it will make no difference which is running the affairs of the State.

For the pollster Johnson, the latest numbers are consistent with the recent constituency polls that were commissioned by The Gleaner. He argued that the numbers should be cause for concern by the PNP.

"The last two weeks were good for the PNP and bad for the JLP with the JDIP revelations and the US plane controversy, but still this has not been reflected in more persons saying that they will be voting for the PNP," noted Johnson.

The latest poll has a sample size of 1,008 and was conducted in all 63 constituencies across Jamaica.