Election Watch

Election Watch




JLP preferred to manage economy; PNP for building infrastructure
Observer/Stone Poll
Observer Stone reporter
Friday, September 06, 2002



JAMAICANS give Edward Seaga's JLP the edge in ability to manage the economy, create jobs, control crime and fight injustice.

But paradoxically, it seems, voters say that they trust the ruling People's National Party (PNP) ahead of the JLP, even though only slightly, in building a better Jamaica.

Moreover, they give the PNP substantially better ratings than the Opposition for its programmes for young people and for its ideas for development of the physical infrastructure. The PNP was also deemed more capable of caring for poor people.

These are among the findings of the latest Observer/Stone poll, conducted in mid-August as part of this newspaper's bid to test public opinion on a range of issues in the lead-up to the general election, which Prime Minister P J Patterson is expected to call shortly.

The Stone Organisation, for this poll, used a sample of 1,202 people, aged 18 and over, in 40 communities across Jamaica. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.

Stone asked potential voters which of the island's political parties would do the best job in a number of critical areas. The two small parties, the National Democratic Movement and the United People's Party, tended to be mere blips in the responses, with the race being between the PNP and the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party)

In the case of controlling the country's serious crime problem, 31.6 per cent backed the JLP, giving the Opposition a substantial edge over the 23.4 per cent who said the PNP. However, nearly 27 per cent did not believe that any party could do much about the problem.

The JLP had a 7.5 percentage point lead over the PNP -- 38.1 per cent versus 30.6 per cent -- in voters' perception of its ability to manage the economy and it enjoyed a 10.5 per cent advantage when people were asked about either party's ability to create jobs. JLP: 38.6 per cent; PNP: 28.1 per cent.

The fourth area in which the electorate gave the JLP the advantage was in fighting injustice, with 32.3 per cent backing the JLP, against 30.8 per cent in favour of the PNP, giving a differential that is within the poll's margin of error.

In the score sheet for the PNP, it enjoyed a huge 20.6 percentage point advantage over the JLP in people's perception of its ability to build the physical infrastructure, with a support of 47 per cent, against the JLP's 26.4 per cent.

This is keeping with recent poll findings in which the government has been given good marks for its efforts in building roads, supplying water and delivering telephones.

In terms of caring for the poor, 36.4 per cent said they favour the PNP to deliver here, against 33.7 per cent who said the JLP.

Previous surveys have suggested that young people are largely turned off from the political process and that any party that controls the youth vote would be on is way to commanding the majority in the legislature. Apparently, more voters believe that the PNP is doing more for young people.

For when Stone asked which party would do the best job with regard to a national programme for young people, 37.6 per cent said the PNP and 29.9 per cent said the JLP. However, just over 13 per cent said none of them and 18.5 per cent didn't know, suggesting that there is still a substantial constituency to be convinced that the parties can speak to the issues of the young.

On the question of which party would build a better Jamaica, 33.4 per cent said the PNP, and 30.7 per cent the JLP, within the margin of error, making this a statistical dead heat for the two. Approximately 14 per cent of the electorate said none of them would make a difference and 21 per cent didn't know.

Stone comment:

Interestingly, of the eight areas probed, the JLP came out on top in four while the PNP came out on top in four also. The minor parties are simply not in the running.

The JLP comes out on top in Controlling crime, Managing the economy, Creating jobs and, Fighting injustice.

The PNP came out on top in Caring for the poor, Building up the physical infrastructure, Having a national programme for young people, and Building a better Jamaica.

In the three areas of Controlling crime, Managing the economy and Creating jobs, the JLP has scored, on average, 30 per cent higher than the PNP.

In Fighting injustice, the JLP scores higher than the PNP by a small margin of five per cent.

As comparison, in the area of Caring for the poor, the PNP scores only eight per cent higher than the JLP; but 26 per cent higher than the JLP in the area of Having a national programme for young people.

The highest differential is in the area of Building up the physical infrastructure where the PNP outpaces the JLP by 78 per cent.

In the broad area of Building a better Jamaica the PNP scores higher than the JLP by nine per cent.