Phillips under water

Phillips under water

• Unfavourability rating now 51% • Holness remains choice for PM

Friday, August 28, 2020

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness's favourability rating has slipped by seven points, but he remains 40 points ahead of Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips and is regarded by more than 60 per cent of respondents in the latest Bill Johnson poll as the person best suited for the job as head of the Government.

But even more worrying for Phillips, the president of the People's National Party (PNP), is the finding that his unfavourability rating has jumped seven points over five weeks, despite him gaining five more points in the favourability column.

The latest poll was conducted by Johnson and his team of researchers August 21-23 among 1,000 voting-age Jamaicans islandwide. It has a sampling error of three per cent and comes after two previous surveys done by Johnson for the Jamaica Observer over the periods March 12-15 and July 9-12.

Johnson and his team canvassed the views of 1,200 Jamaicans for each of the March and July polls. Both had a sampling error of 2.5 per cent. The Observer did not publish the March poll due to the COVID-19 outbreak on the island.

The veteran pollster said that, in the August survey, 62 per cent of respondents indicated that they had a favourable opinion about Holness, a decrease of seven points from the 69 per cent in July, but an increase of four percentage points on the 58 per cent he scored in March.

Those who said they had an unfavourable opinion of the prime minister numbered 21 per cent in August, 14 per cent in July, and 17 per cent in March,

When the same question was asked in relation to Dr Phillips, 22 per cent said they had a favourable opinion about him in August, up from 17 per cent in July and 19 per cent in March.

However, Phillips's unfavourability rating has seen increases since March when it stood at 40 per cent, to 44 per cent in July, then jumped to 51 per cent in August.

“Favourable perceptions of Prime Minister Andrew Holness have started to come back down to earth,” Johnson said in his analysis of the data. “Favourable perceptions outnumbered unfavourable perceptions by a ratio of 3 to 1 in our latest survey, compared to our survey in July in which he was favourably perceived by a 5 to 1 ratio.”

Johnson also noted that Dr Phillips “continues to struggle, as his favourable rating remains significantly under water”.

Added Johnson: “Although those who have a favourable opinion of him increased by five points since our July survey, those who have an unfavourable opinion jumped by seven points.”

The findings come a year after Peter Bunting challenged Phillips for the party's leadership, arguing that since March 2017 when Phillips became PNP president he had “not implemented a single transformational initiative within the party, and is just not seen as the right person for this time”.

The challenge split the party and reopened old wounds from as far back as 2006 when Phillips, Dr Omar Davies, Dr Karl Blythe, and Portia Simpson Miller contested the leadership after PJ Patterson's decision to retire from active politics.

Simpson Miller won that contest, but in 2008 Phillips mounted an unsuccessful challenge to her presidency, a move that further polarised the party.

Bunting, meanwhile, lost his challenge at last September's PNP conference.

Meanwhile, with the general election just six days away, Johnson's latest poll shows Holness holding a commanding lead (63 per cent) over Phillips (14 per cent) as the man Jamaicans believe would make a better prime minister.

A total of 22 per cent of respondents were undecided on the question.

SUNDAY: Which party do voters believe would do a better job of governing Jamaica?


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