|PNP BY A NOSE
PNP surges ahead. but only just
Sunday, September 15, 2002
The Ruling People's National Party made a near 11-percentage point surge between July and August to nose ahead of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) - by 3.4 percentage points - in popular support in the latest Observer/Stone Poll.
But given the survey's error factor of plus or minus three per cent, the two big parties remain in the realm of a statistical dead heat as they enter the home stretch to the general election which Prime Minister P J Patterson is expected to call in a matter of weeks.
The PNP, based on this survey, was supported by 37.8 per cent of the potential electorate, against 34.4 per cent who backed the JLP.
"For all practical purposes, the next elections will be a two-party contest," Stone said, ruling out any substantial impact by the minor parties, the United People's Party (UPP) and the National Democratic Movement/New Jamaica Alliance.
The Stone Organistion conducted this latest survey for the Observer on August 17 and 18, just over six weeks after they had completed their previous poll for the newspaper. The poll was based on a sample of 1,202 persons, aged 18 and over, and selected randomly from 40 communities across the island.
In the previous poll done at the end of June and published in the early weeks of July, the JLP and the PNP were virtually neck-and-neck in support, at 27.6 per cent and 27.2 per cent, respectively.
But those numbers pointed to a clear momentum for the governing PNP as it became more obvious that the country was entering and election mode.
For instance, in April when Stone had done their previous test of the pulse of voters for the Observer, the JLP's support was 30.8 per cent, with the Opposition having gained 6.1 percentage points on its February standing. On the other hand, the PNP had a support of 23.8 per cent, up 2.8 per cent. In fact, the JLP had been consistently ahead of the PNP since November 2000.
But in the June/July poll, while the PNP's support had increased by 3.4 percentage points, the JLP's had slipped 3.2 percentage points.
Or, looked at another way, while the PNP, in absolute terms, had lifted its support by 14.2 per cent, the JLP had lost over 10 per cent of the people who were rooting for it in April.
In the August poll, the two parties were able to build support, but the PNP was able to do so faster than the JLP.
For while the JLP increased its support by 7.2 percentage points, the PNP gained 10.6 percentage points. Or, in absolute terms, the PNP, in between polls, added 38.9 per cent more supporters to its old numbers, while the JLP increased its own by 26 per cent.
The UPP in August had a support of two per cent, while the NDM/NJA was backed by less than quarter of one per cent.
"The minor parties are presently holding less than three per cent of the vote," Stone noted. "If we are to be informed by past elections since the formation of a once viable third party, the NDM, once the race towards Election Day is started, the minor parties are expected to fall off even more in support."
An important finding in this latest survey is that where in June/July 25 per cent said they would not vote, that has more than halved to 10 per cent in August. Additionally, the 2.9 per cent who in June/July would not say how they would vote had disappeared in the August survey.
However, those who say that they did not know for which party they would vote remained firm at 15.6 per cent.
"With increased enumeration rates recorded over the last four polls and with an election imminent, the electorate has signalled its increased intention to participate in the voting process," Stone said. ".Seventy-four per cent of the 82 per cent of the enumerated have told us they intend to vote."
With increased enumeration rates recorded over our last four polls and with an election imminent, the electorate has signalled its increased intention to participate in the voting process.
The PNP has added 10% points to its stock and the JLP has also added 7% points in a scenario where 74% of the 82% enumerated have told us they intend to vote.
The minor parties are presently holding less than 3% of the vote and, if we are to be informed by past elections since the formation of a once viable third party, the NDM, once the race towards election day is started, the minor parties are expected to fall off even more in support.
For all practical purposes the next elections will be a two party contest.