Commentator expects close finish in St Mary SE despite JLP poll

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 20, 2017

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THE findings of a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)-commissioned poll in St Mary South Eastern has neither attracted the backing nor opposition of political commentator Shalman Scott, who yesterday said the results of the October 30 by-election will be a blanket finish.

“The election is going to be close in my view; very close. And the party that is going to have the advantage is the party that can turn out the greatest amount of their supporters,” Scott told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.

“I don't think that the game is going to involve the uncommitted voters. It is more between the die-hard JLP and PNP (People's National Party) supporters. That's where the contest will be, and, as a result of that, I think that the election will be close,” he added.

The JLP in a media release yesterday said that its candidate Dr Norman Dunn is “way” ahead of the Opposition People's National Party's (PNP) candidate Dr Shane Alexis in the St Mary South Eastern by-election campaign, based on the poll conducted this week.

The party said the poll, conducted by regional polling organisation Caribbean Development Strategies, revealed that Dr Dunn was leading Dr Alexis by at least 15 percentage points and is in line to win the seat by a “resounding margin”.

The JLP said that the polls showed that 62 per cent of respondents preferred Dr Dunn to Dr Alexis. The JLP also said that a majority of those polled wanted their candidate to be a Jamaican citizen.

The release did not cite examples of the questions asked.

The poll sampled 1,700 voters from the constituency with a margin of plus or minus five per cent.

Scott, who made it clear that he is not “bashing” the polling company or the result, said that he would prefer to see more predictions from the company, relatively new to activities in Jamaica, before pushing its results.

“I'm not attacking the poll [result], but based on what I know historically, I don't have to buy into it. I don't know enough about them. I will wait to see and watch their performance before I have a firm opinion about their [work],” Scott expressed.

He said the PNP has won six of the last seven elections over 28 years in the rural constituency. Added to that, he said in a massive swing against the PNP in the general election, Dr Winston Green, who died suddenly in August, retained the seat by five votes. Scott pointed out, however, that Green's margin of victory declined significantly from winning by more than 400 votes.

“Based on the history it seems from all indication that the election is going to be tight. If there is this massive swing to the JLP, as is projected by the pollster, it means that the political dynamics of South East St Mary would have changed significantly,” the analyst insisted.

PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson told the Observer that the party is paying little attention to the results of the JLP poll.

“We're on the ground doing our work. We continue to connect with voters and that is our focus,” he said, declining to comment on whether or not the PNP conducted its own poll.

In the meantime, JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang said that the result of the poll was expected based on the work that the party has done since taking office.

“We have done a lot of work and the people of South East St Mary recognise this. Our leader has been exemplary and this is reflected in the acceptance by the people of his modern leadership,” Chang stated.

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