As Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar fends off accusations from the US-indicted Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner that she has benefited from his financial largesse over the years, an H.H.B & Associates poll conducted three weeks ago showed she had been posting strong job and personal approval ratings in the marginal and critical Barataria/San Juan constituency.
She had a commanding 11 per cent lead over Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, 41.8 per cent to 30.6 per cent, when respondents were asked who would make the best prime minister.
Warner trailed with eight per cent in a poll conducted before the US Justice Department announced his indictment and the steady release of information about the alleged misuse of funds entrusted to him.
Some 29 per cent of those polled “strongly approved” of Persad-Bissessar’s performance as PM, compared to 25 per cent for Rowley.
When the number was combined with those who “somewhat approved,” Rowley polled 53.6 per cent and the PM 54.3 per cent.
She also led Rowley, 39.5 to 34.3 per cent, on the question of who voters considered “acceptable as prime minister,” although her negatives were also narrowly higher, 41 per cent to 40 per cent, among voters who rated the candidates “not acceptable.”
When voters were asked about the job and personal favourability of the area’s MP, Dr Fuad Khan, one of the more high profile members of the Cabinet, the favourable numbers were even, at 34 per cent.
However his unfavourables as an MP were higher than as a person, 48 to 42 per cent.
As with polls of other marginal constituencies, voters lacked confidence in any of the nation’s parties to resolve the big issues facing the country.
Some 70 per cent said “none of the above” to the question of who would best tackle unemployment, 69 per cent for rising prices, 60 per cent for corruption and 54 per cent for health care.
The voters were more confident in their ability to solve crime, with an almost even number, 31.9 to 31.3 per cent favouring the PNM over a combination of UNC and PP.
The combination led on “rising prices,” 18 per cent to nine per cent, trailed badly on corruption, 22.5 per cent to 9.8 per cent, and were tied, in the voters’ minds, on their ability to resolve health care issues.
The voters of San Juan/Barataria would appear to be persuadable. The one thing they strongly expressed to pollster Louis Bertrand was intention to vote, with 65.3 per cent declaring themselves likely or very likely, and 15.3 per cent unlikely or very unlikely.