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Not enough for Stuart

January 15th Public Opinion Poll Report (Leadership)

by Peter Wickham, Pollster (CADRES)

A critical aspect of any political opinion poll relates to leadership and as such this assessment of public political opinion investigated these issues which are presented in this section of the report. Respondents were asked whether they approved of the leaders, asked to rate them and thereafter asked which person they would most like to lead them at this time and also in the hypothetical situation where the current leader were unavailable. As was the case with the previous report, this analysis is disaggregated according to party support which allows for an appreciation of extent to which party support impacts on the different aspects of leadership.

Respondents were asked to assess the performance of both leaders using a “Yes” or “No” response to the question that asked whether respondents approved of the leadership of both leaders and this information is presented in figure 01.

Overall, a majority of Barbadians disapproved of the leadership of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, while respondents were equal in their approval and disapproval of Leader of the Opposition Owen Arthur. The party support disaggregation is interesting since it demonstrates the extent to which party support heavily influences leadership approval.

Supporters of the BLP were more likely to approve of the leadership of Arthur, while supporters of the DLP were more likely to approve of the leadership of Stuart. Notwithstanding, it can be seen that more BLP supporters (71 per cent) approved of Arthur, than there were DLP supporters who approved of Stuart (68 per cent).

Interestingly, a majority of “Uncertain Voters” disapproved of both leaders and in this regard there was also more disapproval of Stuart by this “Uncertain” cohort.

The performance of leaders was also measured by way of a numeric rating which is presented in Table 01. Here, respondents were asked to rate the leadership of both leaders on a scale ranging from “1” to “10” with “1” being the lowest or worst score and “10” being the highest or best score.

This information is also disaggregated and it demonstrates that overall, respondents gave Stuart a “failing grade”, while Arthur was given a “bare pass” for his performance. As was the case with the other aspect of leadership, party support appeared to impact on leadership positively with BLP supporters rating Arthur more highly and DLP supporters doing the same for Stuart.

It is interesting that both leaders only achieved ratings in the vicinity of “6” from their supporters and the “Uncertain Voters” awarded failing grades to both leaders. This scenario clearly implies that voters nationally have challenges with the performance of both leaders, but are more inclined towards Arthur at this time.

The more competitive question relating to preferred leader always conveys a clear indication of which individual is the most preferred for the leadership of the country and it is important to stress here that this open-ended question and that respondents are free to select any (single) individual they would prefer to be leader, regardless of whether or not that person is presently an option.

This information is presented comparatively in Table 02 which presents the overall results on the left, with the disaggregated results of only “Uncertain Voters” being presented on the right. In this instance the largest quantity of respondents preferred Arthur for leader 39 per cent, Stuart was preferred by 23 per cent, with former Opposition Leader Mia Mottley being third most popular among 17 per cent of voters and Finance Minister Christopher Sinckler being the fourth most popular among 14 per cent.

This section presents what could be considered the most dramatic shift in public political opinion from the situation that existed in the September CADRES survey which was published in another section of the press. Since then, both Arthur and Stuart have improved but Stuart’s improvement was the most dramatic since he has “improved” his standing from being the fourth most preferred leader to the current situation where he is the second most popular, with a score which has more than doubled.

It should be stressed, however that Stuart’s improvement was entirely at the expense of his Finance Minister, Sinckler who has now fallen to the number four spot. There was also movement within the BLP camp with Mottley slipping away from her statistically insignificant location in proximity to Arthur, to the current situation where she now trails Arthur by 22 points.

This intra-party movement is consistent with the type of party support structure that is normal on the eve of an election when party supporters rally in support of their chosen leaders.

Table 02 works in association with figure 02 which presents the impact of party support on the four most popular leaders and reveals the full list of persons preferred for leadership by the “Uncertain Voters”. Initially, it can be seen that Mottley continues to be the most popular choice among “Uncertain Voters” which is not dissimilar to previous CADRES surveys; however Arthur is now the second most popular among these voters who have not yet decided which party they will support in the next election.

Among the DLP personalities, Sinckler is the leading option for the “Uncertain Voters”, while Stuart is seen as the best prospect among a statistically insignificant quantity of “Uncertain Voters”.

The party support situation is not surprising with large quantities of party supporters opting for their respective party leaders. It is; however noticeable that Arthur is stronger within the BLP than Stuart is within the DLP. In addition, Mottley has the most out-of-party support among the four people since three per cent of DLP supporters prefer Mottley, while two per cent within the BLP like Sinckler and a similar quantity like Arthur within the DLP. Stuart has the least out-of-party support (one per cent).

The final issue explored in this section of the survey was the preferred alternative leader of both parties and in this instance CADRES asked respondents which leader they would prefer to “take over” both parties in the instance that either was unavailable for any reason. The data in this section is presented in Table 03 and is perhaps the clearest expression in the report.

On the DLP side 58 per cent of respondents would opt for Sinckler in the absence of Stuart, while 74 per cent would opt for Mottley in the absence of Arthur. Within the DLP camp, Dr. David Estwick is the second most popular alternative leader while Dennis Kellam is the third most popular.

The BLP’s second and third preferences are in line with previous surveys as well and on this occasion Dale Marshall is tied with Clyde Mascoll for the second most preferred alternative DLP leader. This is perhaps a curious placement only because Mascoll is not a Member of Parliament at this time and has nonetheless moved ahead in national perception of several other elected MPs.

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