One the country’s daily newspapers, the Jamaica Observer, has today (Sunday, March 10) published a poll showing the JLP having a 10 per cent lead over the PNP in the East Portland Constituency, where Damion Crawford of the PNP and Ann Marie Vaz of the JLP are set to contest the By-Election on April 4.
The question posed was: “If a by-election for the Portland Eastern constituency was being held today, do you think you would probably vote for the JLP, or would you definitely vote for the JLP, or would you probably vote for the PNP, or would you definitely vote for the PNP, or would you probably not vote as things stand now?”
The poll was conducted by noted pollster Bill Johnson. He has the dubious distinction of getting election results predictions horribly wrong but has a long track record in the game so his numbers should not be counted out. It will be interesting to see the numbers of other pollsters over the coming weeks as the campaign increases in intensity.
There are lots of probabilities going on with the Bill Johnson numbers but as they stand they show that the JLP would take 37 per cent of the votes compared to the PNP’s 27 per cent.
One of the more interesting bits of statistics coming out of the poll is that across the five electoral divisions the JLP has a far higher favourability rating than the PNP. Just about 43 per cent of women said they would vote for the JLP compared with 23 per cent for the PNP.
It is important to note that the poll was conducted just before Crawford committed his ‘sexist’ gaffe on March 3. It would be interesting to revisit that question in light of the storm that has been raging around him since he declared from the political platform on March 3 that Mrs. Vaz could be nothing more in life, than a wife.
The Bill Johnson poll was commissioned by the Jamaica Observer and one must take the position that the newspaper is taking a neutral stance in the Portland Eastern By-Election. Activity on the ground and the in the media would suggest that the JLP is fa more active and engaging than the PNP.
The PNP seems to lack the ability to learn from its mistakes. After several electoral campaigns in which they deployed negative strategies and lost, here they are again in East Portland with a very negative campaign which has left a bad taste in the mouths of women in the constituency and across the country.
There are votes up for grabs in East Portland. A combined 36 per cent made up of 18 per cent uncertain and18 per cent who will not vote are yet to be swayed. This contest could be a test of our democracy and our electoral process. Both parties are active on the ground and the heavy machinery is at work.
It will be interesting to see the actual voter turnout on Election Day. For the sake of our democracy we all hope that the electorate will engage the process and take their fate into their own hands by voting on the issues they currently face the proposed solutions coming from both sides.
Interestingly, another poll result on page 3 of the Jamaica Observer, this one commissioned by the PNP and conducted by Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES) says should the By-Election be called now the PNP would give the JLP a serious hiding. In a news release the PNP said that the PNP would commandeer 53 per cent of the votes compared with 27 per cent for the JLP. That is a lead of more than 25 percentage points. That is a serious margin with just under four weeks to go. The PNP must be doing some extraordinary work, or it is simply believing its own hype.
It is often better to rely on independent sources for polling data but many a politician has been made a clown by relying on polling data.
Let us watch closely and see who comes closest to mark after the real polls close on April 4.
By Alphanso Gomez