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St Kitts: Opinion poll gives ruling party significant edge to win next election

By CMC

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Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris (Left) and Opposition Leader Dr. Denzil Douglas (File Photo)

(CMC) – The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services Inc. (CARDES) Monday said if an election were called now in St. Kitts-Nevis, the ruling Team Unity government would be a comfortable winner.

CADRES said it had conducted an opinion poll in the twin island federation given that the Timothy Harris government that came to power on February, 16, 2015 has passed its half-way mark in office.

“As a result, there is considerable public interest in the extent to which the government has gained or lost support, as well as the comparative popularity of the PM (Prime Minister), Leader of the Opposition and other persons of interest”

CADRES said it is against this background that it conducted the national poll during the months of May and June and that 1, 000 persons were questioned using face to face interviews by a team of interviewers who were instructed to select respondents in all 11constituencies, based on specific age and gender criteria, without respect to the type of house, race or any other factor.

CADRES said the poll had a margin of plus or minus five per cent.

It said when the question of the likely outcome of an election if it were called at the time of the survey, 45 per cent favoured the coalition government, with 27 per cent supporting the main opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) headed by former prime minister Dr. Denzil Douglas.

The survey found that 23 per cent of those questioned were unsure and five per cent 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.

“The response to the party support question demonstrates that Team Unity has at this time been promised 42 per cent of the total popular vote, while Labour/NRP would have received 34 per cent if the election was held at the time the surveys were completed.”

CADRES said that this represents a seven per cent difference between pledged support for the two main parties, with 23 per cent 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 seven per cent (at the Federal level) in favour of Team Unity, with Labour NRP deteriorating to the extent of minus eight per cent”.

In the 2015 general election, the coalition comprising the People’s Action Movement (PAM), the People’s Labour Party (PLP) and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) won seven of the 11 seats, with the other four going to the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP).

CADRES said that when asked the question if they thought St Kitts and Nevis was generally on the “Right Tract/Heading in the Right Direction, 39 per cent said yes, although 44 per cent opted not to answer the question.

“It is noteworthy that only 17 per cent 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. “

On the question of leadership, the poll found that Prime Minister Harris is the preferred leadership option with the support of 37 per cent of those polled, while Opposition Leader Douglas is the second most popular option among 31 per cent.

The poll found that the third and fourth most popular options were persons associated with Team Unity, while the next two Labour/NRP options rank fifth and sixth.

“It can therefore be inferred that Team Unity leadership holds the support of 64 per cent of those polled while Labour/NRP holds 36 per cent. Moreover, Prime Minister Harris has emerged as the most popular leader nationally as well as being the most popular within Team Unity.”

It said he has the approval of 56 per cent of the population, while Douglas has the approval of 40 per cent.

CADRES said that 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.

“In previous CADRES 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 added.

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