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Owen preferred

by Shawn Cumberbatch

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of Barbadians who want Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to lead them.

But unfortunately for the Democratic Labour Party head, the majority of voters prefer Opposition Leader Owen Arthur to come back and take charge of the country for a fourth time.

And although a significantly larger percentage of them have warmed to him, only about a quarter of Barbadians approve of the job the Prime Minister is doing.

While both political heavyweights have emerged as the clear preferences of voters, the CADRES public opinion poll commissioned by Barbados TODAY found that it was at the expense of their perceived successors, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and St. Michael North East MP Mia Mottley, who have simultaneously faded in the leadership stakes.

Having reported yesterday on the support for the two main political parties, Barbados TODAY can now reveal that in the CADRES survey of 1,080 individuals in all 30 constituencies last weekend, Stuart, whose “preferred” leadership rating was 9.9 per cent in May last year and 11 per cent four months later, has now jumped to 23 per cent.

This means he has moved past both Mottley and Sinckler and is now second in the line up of politicians Barbadians want to manage the country’s affairs.

Stuart’s 12 per cent increase, however, has been matched by Arthur, whose leadership rating has moved from 29.8 per cent in May last year and 27 per cent in September to this week’s current 39 per cent.

Another bit of bad news for the DLP leader was the fact that 53 per cent of Barbadians said “no” when asked if they approved of the job he was doing as Prime Minister.

Arthur’s approval rating is more evenly distributed CADRES found, with 37 per cent of the electorate answering “yes” and an almost equal 36 per cent saying “no” when asked if they approved of his work as Leader of the Opposition.

Reacting to the leadership aspect of the poll, CADRES Director Peter Wickham told Barbados TODAY that with general elections around the corner yesterday’s data combined with today’s was not a good sign for Stuart and his administration.

“I think it was rather striking that there has been a shift in terms of the leadership popularity. Owen Arthur continues to be popular, but I think the real interest point relates to the extent to which the leadership rating of Freundel Stuart has moved up precipitously and he is now considered the second most popular person even though his popularity is still significantly less than that of Owen Arthur,” the political scientist noted.

“I think in the previous public opinion poll he was barely in double digits and now he has doubled his support level, but the reality is that it’s just half that of Owen Arthur. The other thing is Chris Sinckler, his popularity has fallen and it’s clear that Freundel Stuart’s popularity has increased at the expense of Chris Sinckler.

“Presumably, this relates to the extent to which he (Stuart) has been presenting himself in a prime ministerial way more so than before,” he suggested.

Wickham said it was not usual when political parties were approaching a general election for the population to rally behind the existing leaders “in a major way”, something the poll was showing.

Hence why Mottley’s leadership rating fell from 26 per cent last September to the current 17 per cent, placing her third among leaders of choice, while Sinckler, fourth of those preferred, now had a 14 per cent rating, a 10 percentage point drop when compared to four months ago.

As it now stands, though, Mottley (74 per cent) and Sinckler (58 per cent) are still by far the preferred “alternative” leaders of their parties.

In the case of the Bees, Mottley was followed by current Deputy Opposition Leader Dale Marshall (13 per cent), and former St. Michael North West MP Clyde Mascoll (13 per cent).

For the Dems, Sinckler was followed by Cabinet members Dr. David Estwick (11 per cent), Denis Kellman (nine per cent), Donville Inniss (eight per cent), Ronald Jones (seven per cent) and Richard Sealy (seven per cent).

Wickham also said that based on the statistical data produced by the poll, Stuart was still less popular than his party, while the combined support of he and Sinckler was not as much as that of Arthur and Mottley.

“And I think that is a problem they (the DLP) will continue to confront. Even though he has been able now to take over as the most popular person he is still less popular than the party is and his finance minister and him together cumulatively don’t poll the support of 50 per cent of Barbadians,” the pollster said.

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