Poll: Ruling St Kitts/Nevis Team Unity in front as election draws nearer

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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DR Timothy Harris and his Team Unity Government would be re-elected to govern the St Kitts and Nevis federation for another term if an election is called now, according to a newly released opinion poll.

At the same time, the poll showed that Dr Harris remains the most popular politician in the federation and is taking the island on the right track, according to the poll conducted by Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES), which has conducted surveys across the region with a high level of accuracy over the past 10 years.

The Team Unity Government was elected on February 16, 2015 and passed the half-way mark in February of this year, but there has been considerable public interest in the extent to which the government has gained or lost support, as well as the comparative popularity of the prime minister, leader of the Opposition and other persons of interest.

Against this background, CADRES said in a press release, it conducted a national survey of public opinion in St Kitts and Nevis during May and June which sought to measure these indicators and “is now happy to make the key findings of this survey available for public consumption”.

“In this instance the survey conformed to the standard methodological requirements necessary to achieve the +/- 5% margin of error that CADRES promises. Some 1,000 persons were surveyed across the federation, using face-to-face interviews by a team of interviewers who were instructed to select respondents in all 11 constituencies, based on specific age and gender criteria, without respect to the type of house, race or any other factor,” the release said.

In addition to the standard political questions, respondents were asked an open-ended question regarding the issue of greatest concern to them and in this instance, it was crime.

CADRES said that in previous surveys crime was always a significant concern; however, in this instance it was a preoccupation of considerably more people than before. “While this increased concern is noted, it is also important to note that in no country where this has been the case has there been evidence that people associate the increase in the crime level to either the government or opposition totally, or that the issue is politicised.

“CADRES notably encountered this phenomenon in Barbados (1999) when crime was a similar concern during elections and the incumbent won on a landslide notwithstanding an Opposition campaign that focused almost exclusively on crime. Trailing a far distance behind crime, the second most important issue was unemployment, with the cost of living being third most important.”

Poll question: Is St Kitts and Nevis on the right track/heading in the right direction?


Unsure/Won't say - 44%

Yes, Right track/Direction - 39%

No, Wrong Track/Direction - 17%

One of the key indicators of voter satisfaction used by CADRES is the “Right Track/Wrong Track” question where respondents were asked if they thought St Kitts and Nevis was generally on the “Right Track/Heading in the Right Direction”. A majority of Kittitians and Nevisians are convinced that the country is on the “Right Track/Heading in the Right Direction” (39%), although a similar quantity opted not to answer the question (44%). It is noteworthy that only 17% were convinced that the country was “Heading in the Wrong Direction” and cross tabulations demonstrated that the majority of these persons subsequently pledged their support to the Labour Party.

Preferred leader

The important issue of leadership was also explored in the survey with respondents being asked which leader they preferred at this time. At this time, Prime Minister Harris is the preferred leadership option with the support of 37% of those polled, while Opposition Leader Douglas is the second most popular option among 31% of those polled. The third and fourth most popular options are also associated with Team Unity (Richards 15%, Brantley 12%), while the next two Labour/NRP options rank fifth and sixth with 3% and 2% respectively. It can, therefore, be inferred that Team Unity leadership holds the support of 64% of those polled while Labour/NRP holds 36%. Moreover, PM Harris has emerged as the most popular leader nationally as well as being the most popular within Team Unity.

Leadership approval

The likely outcome of an election if it were called at the time of the survey is analysed from the perspective of party support and perceptions as to which party will win. When asked about which party/coalition group they believed would win an election at this time, the majority (45%) said Team Unity, while 27% said Labour/NRP, with 23% being unsure and 5% believing that some “other party” would win. This is of course only a perception and the more important question was how respondents would vote if an election were called at this time (party support).

Party support

The response to the party support question demonstrates that Team Unity has at this time been promised 42% of the total popular vote, while Labour/NRP would have received 34% if the election is held at the time the surveys were completed. This represents a 7% difference between pledged support for the two main parties, with 23% refusing to answer the question, which implies the possibility that these persons could impact on the outcome of an election. That level of uncommitted support could potentially reverse the fortunes of both parties; however, CADRES has traditionally made projections regarding this uncommitted support which have generally been reliable. The methodology for this projection allocates uncommitted support along historic lines and results in a projected swing of 7% (at the Federal level) in favour of Team Unity, with Labour NRP deteriorating to the extent of -8%.

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