Poll Puts PNM Out Front in Bye- Elections
The findings of an ongoing tracking opinion poll being conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA), finds that although a large majority of voters are dissatisfied with the governance of the PNM and also say they are worse off today than they were three years ago, the ruling party is still ahead of the opposition UNC in the two bye-elections slated for July 16 to fill the vacant local government seats of Barataria and Belmont East. While the PNM is coasting in the latter (described as a safe seat), it is facing some opposition in Barataria which is considered as a marginal seat.
The vacancies were caused by the deaths of Councillor Pernell Bruno (July 2017) and Darryl Rajpaul (November 2017) respectively. The likability and popularity of both deceased representatives are helping the PNM with sympathy votes to retain both seats. At the time of his death, Bruno was rated as among the most liked political representative in the country. Almost every Barataria voter gave him a thumbs up saying he serviced them “effectively and efficiently” – giving an almost perfect rating for a politician. Bruno was described as “a boss of a representative” by supporters of both PNM and UNC. Voters say they are disappointed that the bye-election for Barataria was not called earlier but the late election is not affecting support for the PNM as party supporters are sticking with their party in this seat as well as in Belmont East. Supporters of the UNC, on the other hand, are disgruntled that there has not been a shadow rep to “work the seats”. And they are concerned about the division and factionalism in the party.
The poll is being conducted by Dr. Vishnu Bisram interviewing voters to represent the demographics of bot constituencies as well as the national population.
The findings of the survey reveal that supporters of UNC are not as politically enthused towards their party as supporters of the PNM towards their party. Voters note that while the PNM has been canvassing (for votes) over the last couple of weeks, there has not been corresponding UNC activism. The PNM selected its candidate for both districts (Kimberly Rae-Ann Small and Nicole Young) since April and they have been “working the ground” while the UNC was yet to screen potential candidates (through June 10) for both seats.
The poll also finds that there is no cross over ethnic support for either party. And almost half of the voters are not pleased with either party lacking confidence in both to solve issues. Voter apathy is widespread not only in both local government constituencies but throughout the country as well. People are not animated to vote for either party and instead are more concerned about daily survival. Voter turnout for both by-elections is projected to be minimal. Whichever party can get their supporters out to the polling stations will have the advantage of winning the seats. Right now, the PNM seems better organized on the ground. It also enjoys the advantages of incumbency and resources. The UNC, voters say, has virtually no presence in Belmont East and limited campaign infrastructure in Barataria. But with elections six weeks away, anything can play in Barataria.
Nationally, the poll finds that almost every voter is dissatisfied with government’s handling of crime, economy, corruption, local government reform, among other grievances. And people (of middle and lower income) have expressed limited confidence in their future well-being. Almost everyone says they are living on hope – hoping their life will improve as promised by the government that the economy is turning around. Also, almost everyone is opposed to the proposed property tax saying there should be a moratorium on it.