A majority of Jamaicans say the most important factor affecting their voting decision is who they believe is the ideal candidate to be Member of Parliament for their constituency.
That’s according to the latest Nationwide/Bluedot Polls powered by Total Tools.
The finding contradicts conventional political wisdom, which says the majority of Jamaicans vote for leader over everything else, when they go behind the voting booth on election day.
Mahiri Stewart reports.
It’s an oft repeated claim from those who know and study the political landscape, that the voting decision of Jamaicans is based largely on who is the leader of the major political parties.
Students of politics are often told that Jamaicans are leader centric; we vote for leader above all other considerations.
In keeping with this pearl of wisdom, public commentator, Suelle Anglin, questioned whether the public’s perception of Opposition Leader Mark Golding would prove damaging to the PNP’s chances of reclaiming Jamaica House.
But when the Bluedot pollsters fanned out across all 63 constituencies between August 18 and September 7 this year, nearly 51 per cent of respondents told them that’s not the case at all.
The pollsters asked, “when making your decision on how to vote, which is most important to you?”
Fifty-point-eight per cent of the respondents indicated the most important factor for them is the candidate who they believe would make the best member of parliament for their constituency.
That would suggest more Jamaicans care about candidate quality and who they believe will best represent the interest of their local communities, rather than who is at the top of the ticket.
There’s a whopping 24 percentage point gap between those who say the candidate matters and the 26.8 per cent who say their voting behaviour is dependent on who they want to see as Prime Minister.
Those respondents indicated they vote for the candidate representing the party whose leader they want to see in Jamaica House. That’s followed by 22.4 per cent of respondents who indicated they vote for the party they want to see form the government.
A deeper dive into the numbers makes for interest reading.
Sixty per cent of respondents who have no political affiliation say they vote based on the best candidate for their constituency. Forty-five per cent of JLP affiliated and 40 per cent of PNP affiliated respondents indicated they vote for the best candidate.
Thirty-two point three per cent of JLP affiliated respondents say they vote based on the party leader they want to be prime minister. That number is 30 per cent among PNP affiliated respondents and 20 per cent among independents.
Twenty-nine per cent of PNP affiliated respondents indicated they vote based on the party they want to see form the government, against 22.4 per cent of JLP affiliated respondents.
Only 18 per cent of independent minded respondents indicated their voting behaviour is influenced by the party they want to see form the government.
The numbers will no doubt offer some comfort to the Opposition People’s National Party, PNP, which has sought to push a team approach, conscious of the favourability limitation of its party leader, Mark Golding.
As both parties finalise their candidates for the Local Government and General Election campaigns, the Bluedot data is telling them local candidate quality matters, even more than who sits atop the ticket.
The Nationwide/Bluedot poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.57 per cent.
There were 1,294 respondents. Ninety-four per cent of the respondents are registered voters.