Vincentians most concerned about jobs and employment, crime, the economy, and the cost of living.
An overall majority of Vincentians now support the international airport project.
Both Gonsalves and Eustace registered improved approval ratings
If general elections were called in October, the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) would have maintained the eight seats it holds and could have won between two and four more, according to a poll conducted last month.
The poll was conduced by Caribbean Development Research Service Inc. (CADRES), headed by regional pollster, Peter W. Wickham .
Wickham, in a release this week, said that the poll was conducted in October. However, he did not give any specific indication of the exact time frame.
Also, the release also did not say the size of the sample, the margin of error, demographics of the persons surveyed, or the geographical spread in terms of constituencies from which the sample was taken.
The release however said that persons “on the Vincentian mainland” were surveyed.
CADRES said that party support was a less significant focus of the survey, but it did collect this data, which reflect “an overall positive support for the ULP government which is above the level that it received in the 2010 election”.
“This implies an electoral swing favouring the ULP, which CADRES now estimates at 2 per cent. If this swing is projected against the results of the last election, the ULP would maintain all the seats it currently has and could potentially capture between two and four seats (if an election were held at the time the survey was conducted),” the release said.
The ULP won 12 of the 15 constituencies when it first came to office in March 2001. There was a repeat of those results in 2015, but the party lost four seats to the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the December 2010 general elections, when there was an 8-7 result.
Gonsalves or Eustace?
CADRES said the poll in October also explored leadership preference, and in this regard Vincentians have indicated a clear preference for Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, while Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace, remains the second most popular leader in St. Vincent.
“In the instance of PM Gonsalves, he is now preferred by 61 per cent of Vincentians, while Mr. Eustace is preferred by 38 per cent of Vincentians. These 2013 leadership numbers are both improvements over the 2010 scenario in which PM Gonsalves was preferred by 52 per cent of Vincentians and Eustace by 36 per cent.
The release said that while next general election in SVG is not due until 2015, CADRES considered it prudent to conduct a review of public opinion, especially in light of recent statements about considering decriminalising marijuana for medical purposes along with regional concerns about the economy.
The release said that respondents were asked “a single question relating to the decriminalisation of marijuana” and were given the options that they (i) completely opposed any decriminalisation of marijuana, (ii) supported decriminalisation for medical and religious purposes, or (iii) supported a complete decriminalisation that would include recreational use.
“The results were interesting and suggest that Vincentians are completely divided on this issue since 44 per cent oppose any form of decriminalisation at this time, while a cumulative total of 45 per cent support partial or full decriminalisation, with 11 per cent offering no opinion on the issue,” the release said.
“The quantity of persons not responding to the question (11 per cent) is comparatively low and implies that Vincentians are thinking about this issue and have formed some opinion on it, with those supporting medical and religious decriminalisation (36 per cent) being the single largest group.
“Only 9 per cent of Vincentians support the full decriminalisation of marijuana which would include recreational use. It is also noteworthy that when these data are analysed from the perspective of the political party preferred by respondents on all sides of this issue, there is NO significant correlation,” the release further stated.
“Simply put, this means that Vincentians who support the ULP are no more or less likely to support decriminalisation than Vincentians who support the NDP.”
The release said that when asked about their major issue of concern, the issue of marijuana did not emerge.
“Instead the single largest quantity of respondents indicated that they were most concerned about the issue of Jobs and Employment (37 per cent), followed by Crime (19 per cent), The Economy (18 per cent) and the Cost of Living (14 per cent). This list of concerns does not differ significantly from the last CADRES survey conducted in 2010. The major noticeable difference would be an increased concern over Crime in St Vincent. It is also useful to note that across the region, CADRES has detected a similar preoccupation with issues of an economic nature in our surveys.”
CADRES also said it was particularly with the construction of the Argyle international airport, which it described as “a controversial preoccupation of the ULP government”.
Respondents were asked if they thought the airport was “worth it” and the single largest quantity (56 per cent) said “Yes” while 30 per cent of Vincentians argued that it was not “worth it”.
“In this instance there was a weak correlation with political party support suggesting that ULP supporters were more inclined to support the airport, than NDP supporters. Notwithstanding, an overall majority of Vincentians now support the airport project,” the release said.