Although the headline in today’s Gazette is correct in saying its poll says the PLP would win an election today, it would be more accurate to say that a general election held today is either party’s to win – a 35%/33% margin makes it too close to call.
What the poll does show is that the PLP has recovered some of its mojo while there is dissatisfaction with the OBA’s rate of progress.
The timing of the poll is unfortunate. It was held from February 8-15, meaning it finished just as the “Valentine’s Day Massacre” in the House of Assembly was unfolding and it also could have been done after the Budget was released last Friday. The Jetgate stuff could not have been predicted, but the Budget date was known, so that was poor planning.
Of course, that won’t really matter when an election is actually held some three to four years hence (barring unforeseen changes between now and then).
In the end, the important numbers in this poll are the large numbers of undecided voters in almost all segments. The OBA seems to have lost some of the youth vote which propelled it to victory in 2012 and it looks like people generally are less enthralled with Premier Craig Cannonier’s leadership. By comparison, Marc Bean looks good, which may be more because of unhappiness with Cannonier than Bean’s own leadership qualities, which can be erratic.
But with one third of voters undecided, and voters evenly split otherwise, this means that the next election can be won by either party.
For the OBA, it comes down to bringing about a sustained recovery with jobs. Do that, and the Budget was a good step in the right direction, and it stands a good chance of re-election.
For the PLP, it’s a case not merely of capitalizing on dissatisfaction with the Government, but of formulating a coherent philosophy of government, especially on the economy. Finance Minister Bob Richards was right when he said there needs to financial discipline and growth. The PLP has tried to suggest that jobs will come through growth (seabed mining, apparently) without any sacrifice, and the public knows that’s nonsense.