KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s popularity dipped two percentage points in the latest voter survey just weeks ahead of Election 2013 but the small drop shows the Umno president’s personal popularity shows he remains the strongest brand for Barisan Nasional (BN) as it heads for elections soon.
Independent pollster Merdeka Center, which surveyed 1,021 voters in Peninsular Malaysia at the end of January after a mass opposition demonstration in the city, reported today that the PM’s approval rating was down to 61 per cent compared to 63 per cent based on its previous study last December.
It also detected a shift in voter sentiment towards the government, with 48 per cent saying they were “happy with the government” while 45 per cent said they were “happy with Barisan Nasional”.
Merdeka Center’s executive director, Ibrahim Suffian, told The Malaysian Insider that voters had been asked to rate the BN as a political party in explaining the different scores for the ruling coalition and the government.
The PM’s overall approval rating had increased to 65 per cent last November after he announced Budget 2013, a slight increase from 64 per cent last May.
Despite the latest dip, Najib remains more popular than his coalition, which scored 45 per cent support in the latest survey compared to the slightly higher 47 per cent approval from voters polled two months ago.
Support for Najib was highest among Indians at 75 per cent, topping even the support from Malay majority (73 per cent) while only 34 per cent of Chinese were satisfied with his performance as prime minister.
The January 23 to February 6 survey, which was funded internally by the Merdeka Center, aimed to gauge voters’ perceptions of issues in the run up to the 13th general election due soon. It had a margin error of three per cent.
The research house said the survey took place after the January 12 People’s Uprising rally backed by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders in the national capital here as well as the ongoing media coverage of the Sabah citizenship-for-votes royal inquiry.
It noted that other issues that formed the talking point to its survey included carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan’s and former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan’s statements controversial statements against the government, and the “Allah” religious dispute.