by Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
With a few metres left before the finish line is crossed in the race for Gordon House, the People's National Party (PNP) has made a rally that has seen it sweep past the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the latest check on who is likely to be crowned champion come December 29.
While the two parties remain in a statistical dead heat, the PNP seems to have snatched the momentum from the JLP over the past few days.
The latest Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll has found that if Jamaicans were asked to vote today, 38 per cent would cast their ballot for the PNP while 36 per cent would vote JLP.
With the poll having a sampling error of plus or minus four per cent, there is really nothing separating the two parties going down to the line.
But the PNP seems to have the edge, gaining six percentage points in the past week while the JLP has not moved an inch.
"The JLP came to a screeching halt just over one week ago probably because of issues such as the Government's handling of the United States spy plane revelations and other issues while the PNP seems to have received a boost by its pointing out the inaccuracies of some of the JLP's claims," the pollster told The Gleaner.
"But it is still anybody's game because a two percentage point lead is not significant and what we are seeing is fluidity. The person who said 'probably PNP' one week earlier might now be saying 'probably JLP' or 'undecided'," added Johnson.
When Johnson tested the pulse of the nation on December 10 and 11, the JLP enjoyed 36 per cent support while the PNP trailed with 32 per cent support.
One week later, December 17 and 18, Johnson returned to the field and found that some persons who had previously said they would not vote or who had refused to say who they would vote for have moved behind the Portia Simpson Miller-led party.
The latest poll found the number of undecided voters almost unchanged at 10 per cent compared to nine per cent one week prior while those who will not vote declined by three percentage points to 15 per cent while a negligible number of respondents, one per cent, refused to answer the question.
Before leadership debate
Johnson noted that the latest poll was done after the second of three national debates and would not show what, if any, impact the clash between Simpson Miller and JLP Leader Andrew Holness would have on voting plans.
"These voting intentions are not locked in concrete and the leadership debate could have an impact but the whole thing is very fluid," emphasised Johnson.
He noted that the persons who said they would definitely vote PNP increased from 29 per cent to 35 per cent in one week while those who said the would probably vote PNP remained at three per cent.
For the JLP, those who said they would definitely put their X beside its symbol of the bell moved marginally from 31 to 32 per cent while the voters who said probably JLP dropped from five to four per cent.
However the main reasons why persons would vote the way they indicated, for the most part, remained almost unchanged.
For the JLP, 34 per cent of the persons who say they will vote for the party say they are "diehard Labourites"; 15 per cent said it is better than the PNP; while 12 per cent said Holness deserves a chance. But that is down from 19 per cent one week earlier.
On the PNP side, 31 per cent who said they would vote for the party claimed that was because they are rock-stone Comrades, down from 36 per cent one week earlier.
Eighteen per cent said the party is better than the JLP and 13 per cent said the PNP would do a better job of running the country.
The latest Gleaner-Johnson poll was conducted in 84 communities across the island with a sample size of 1,008.
WOULD NOT VOTE: 15