Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Johnson helped to advance science of polling – Anderson

Published:Tuesday | September 19, 2023 | 12:08 AM
Bill Johnson.
Bill Johnson.

The death of well-known researcher and political pollster Bill Johnson last Friday has sparked mourning and reflections in several sectors as more people react to the news.

Johnson, who was the managing director of Johnson Survey Research Limited, became a fixture in Jamaican politics in the last two decades, conducting public opinion polls locally and across the Caribbean.

“Bill played a key role in helping to advance the science of polling in Jamaica and in creating a greater level of awareness of the importance of poll data to political decision-making,” noted fellow pollster Don Anderson.

“Though we often worked on different sides during election campaigns in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean, there was always a demonstration of mutual respect for each other’s work,” he added.

“My sincerest condolences to his immediate family, his wife Coleen in particular, and his friends,” Anderson said.

People’s National Party General Secretary Dr Dayton Campbell said that Johnson made a worthwhile contribution to the development of the nation by providing critical data for the country to plan and coordinate activities.

“Certainly, the People’s National Party has used his services in the past to conduct constituency and national polls, and so I think his passing has left a void,” Campbell said as he also expressed condolences to Johnson’s family and loved ones.

Johnson, who married Coleen Valentine in 2010, was a 1966 honours graduate of Yale University in the United States, where he studied political behaviour.

As he began to make a mark locally, the results of his Gleaner-commissioned polls, in particular, would leave politicians brimming with confidence or defensive and dismissive, depending on whether their parties were found to have the support of the Jamaican people ahead of general or local government elections.

In recent years, Johnson conducted political polls for other media houses.

In addition to political polling, Johnson also conducted public opinion polls on a range of issues, including abortion rights and a COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

But Johnson’s work was not confined to the political landscape and other national issues, as he polled for companies in corporate Jamaica.

The Jamaica National (JN) Group is one of the entities in the financial sector that benefited from the research and surveys done by Johnson. It said that Johnson provided nearly two decades of service to the group as a consultant researcher and analyst, conducting various surveys and market research.

His findings provided the leadership and employees of the JN Group with key insight to guide the growth and success of the organisation, JN said. It added that up until his death, Johnson remained one of a handful of well-known pollsters in Jamaica whose results proved to be consistently accurate about stakeholder sentiment.

JN Group CEO Earl Jarrett described Johnson as a steadfast social scientist who maintained a reputation for accuracy and integrity.

“His insightful analyses of the findings have been very useful in making important decisions regarding the direction of companies and strategies within the group,” Jarrett added.