Few safe seats left in Jamaica — Bill Johnson

Pollster says Portland Eastern result shows Jamaicans value performance over traditional support

Sunday, April 07, 2019

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Veteran pollster Bill Johnson is urging politicians across Jamaica to use the recent by-election in Portland Eastern as a warning of what could happen if they fail to keep election promises, and if they neglect the people who elected them.

“There are very few constituencies which we are going to be able to say are safe for either the PNP or the JLP. I think people are sick and tired of being neglected. The PNP had controlled East Portland for 30 years; the people had been promised many things over the years and I think the people got tired of the promises,” said Johnson as he pointed to the bad roads and lack of water in many communities in the constituency.

“So I don't think either the PNP or the JLP can assume that they are going to continue winning in a constituency if they have not properly serviced the residents,” added the pollster.

Johnson, who conducted two polls in the lead-up to last Thursday's by-election, had projected a win for the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Ann-Marie Vaz, who his last poll showed had a 10 percentage points lead over the People's National Party's (PNP) Damion Crawford, less than one week before the election.

When the preliminary count of votes ended, Vaz had 9,917 votes to Crawford's 9,611, a victory by two percentage points.

For Johnson, while both parties did well in pulling out all the votes Crawford had a late rally, as he exceeded the 8,606 votes which the PNP's Dr Lynvale Bloomfield tallied to win the constituency in the 2016 General Election.

“Both sides brought out almost all the votes they could, and ultimately about 98 per cent of those who had voted for the JLP in 2016 voted for Ann-Marie this time around, while close to the same ended up voting for Damion.

“In our first poll (March 1 and 2), right when the PNP was in the process of selecting Damion, only about 60 per cent of those who had voted for the PNP in 2016 were planning to vote for him. A poll that was done five or six days before the election showed that this had risen to 74 per cent and this rose to about 95 to 98 per cent last Thursday, and that resulted in an incredibly close election,” said Johnson.

He noted that of the persons who did not vote in 2016, by a more than 3:1 margin such persons voted for the JLP this time around.

“The JLP polled another 3,600 votes while the PNP pulled another 1,000 votes, so obviously a lot of people who didn't vote in 2016 ended up voting last Thursday”, said Johnson.

— Arthur Hall

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