Anderson poll finds strong, favourable ratings for St Kitts/Nevis Gov't

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

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The Dr Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government in St Kitts and Nevis has received a positive overall rating in a national poll conducted between November 15 and December 10, 2018.

The survey covered all the 11 constituencies in St Kitts and Nevis and was conducted by renowned Jamaican pollster, Don Anderson and his team from Market Research Services Limited.

According to Anderson, a total of 869 persons, aged 18 years and over, who are eligible to vote in national elections, were questioned.

Anderson reported that 57 per cent of the persons interviewed are of the view that things have got better in the country over the last three years.

“This is a very strong, positive assessment of the current situation in the country. This far outweighs the 23 per cent who feel that things have got worse over this time,” Anderson said in his report.

“The remainder comprised those 20 per cent who say that they have seen no change over this time.

“This positive view of the way things are going in the country was echoed across most of the constituencies, including some held by the Opposition,” the pollster added.

He reported that just over 67 per cent of all persons interviewed said that their own personal situation has either improved or remained the same.

The researchers said when they asked voters to indicate what factors have conditioned this view of their fortunes, a number of positive factors were highlighted.

Topping the list were:

* Job opportunities exist now — 47 per cent pointing to this as an important contributor to their assessment;

* The country is beginning to move forward and make good progress, nationally and internationally — 25 per cent; and

* Basic infrastructure is being attended to — 16 per cent.

“These, amongst a range of other factors, have served to convince these persons that their own situation is getting better,” Anderson said.

“On the other hand, those 33 per cent who indicated that their personal fortunes have got worse cited mainly the cost of living, poverty, and minimal job opportunities as the main causal factors.”

Noting that the Government recently proposed to introduce a cash grant to shore up the fortunes of people operating at a relatively low income level, Anderson said that although the measure was not implemented by the time his researchers went into the field, anecdotally the programme appeared to be a potentially good move on the part of the Government.

“Aware of the seemingly high level of support for this enactment, but also conscious of the natural human inclination to misuse such funds if not monitored, the Government had also proposed a parallel policy,” Anderson said.

He noted that in line with the implementation of the measure, the Government plans to introduce a policy to restrict the use of such funds to really essential items, and away from unnecessary day-to-day purchases such as buying liquor and cigarettes.

Added Anderson: “The survey data indicate that the country is widely supportive of this decision by the Government to put into place mechanisms to monitor how these funds are used, so as to ensure that expenditure is in line with the stated purpose for which it is intended.”

The poll, he said, found that 63 per cent of voters were in favour of this action by the Government to ensure proper use of these funds, while 31 per cent are opposed.

This programme was subsequently put in place on December 24, 2018.

The survey also reveals that a significant number of individuals acknowledge that the Government is making coordinated efforts to tackle crime and violence within the society.

“Despite this, there is the understandable feeling that more can be done. It is within this context that the large majority of persons interviewed welcomed the deployment of the regional security services as well as efforts already in place to review the strategic programmes of the National Security Strategy Commission. These were seen as two strong pillars of the Government's anti-crime measures,” Anderson said.

He also reported that the poll found overwhelming support for the Government's decision to continue the STEP programme, with 88 per cent of respondents saying that it is a good endeavour and should be retained and strengthened where possible.

On the performance of the Government itself, Anderson said more persons rated the Administration positively than those who rated it negatively.

When asked how they would rate the performance of the Dr Timothy Harris-led Unity Government, 38 per cent viewed this positively, rating it either very good or good, compared to the 30 per cent who rated the performance as being poor or very poor.

“At the same time, another 32 per cent considered the performance as being acceptable, if not in the strongly positive category. In the final analysis, close to 70 per cent of all persons interviewed regard the performance of the Government as being average to excellent,” Anderson said.

Noting that in the 2015 election, the Opposition St Kitts and Nevis Labour Party and its affiliate received more of the popular vote, with 50.08 per cent, but won just four seats, Anderson said that the poll findings “clearly indicate that the ruling Team Unity Party has significantly grown its popular base since then”.

He said that when his team asked voters what were the real accomplishments of the Government that helped to shape this positive view, the respondents cited a wide range of factors. but the key drivers of this rating though were the 43 per cent who felt that the Government had improved the infrastructure, 23 per cent who said that the Government had provided roofing assistance, 14 per cent who cited the move to provide affordable housing, and the 10 per cent who pointed to the planned introduction of the proposed policy of supplemental income of EC$500 which became a reality on December 24, 2018.

“It is interesting to note against this background that when persons were asked to indicate what factors conditioned a negative rating of the Government, the largest single mention was 'I don't know', represented by 14 per cent.

“The suggestion here is these were diehard supporters of other parties who were simply opposed to the Dr Harris-led Unity group. Indeed, the data show generally that persons were not able to really articulate the challenges they had with the Team Unity Government,” Anderson said.

He said that where answers were given, the principal issues were among 11 per cent who were concerned about the availability of jobs, as well as 11 per cent who felt that not enough has been done to date to deal with the crime situation.

“The results in general point to a strong level of positives for the Team Unity Government at this time, the belief for sure that they are doing a good job, and an indication that there is a clear inclination to vote them back into office when elections are called,” Anderson said.

Market Research Services Limited has over 43 years' experience in market research in Jamaica and the entire Caribbean, conducting surveys for a range of international and multinational entities and lending agencies, corporate and government bodies. It has also successfully conducted political polls in most of the Caribbean countries since 1989.

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