Almost every person interviewed in an opinion poll conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) in July believes incumbent Dr. Keith Rowley will win re-election for the PNM’s leadership post in the party’s internal executive elections to be held in September. Everyone said Dr. Keith Rowley has an advantage over any potential challengers to win re-election. The real issue that emerged from the poll's findings is not whether Dr. Rowley will win but whether anyone in the PNM has the courage to challenge him for the post.
Respondents believe that there is hardly likely to be any serious candidate who is willing to challenge the leader for the post fearing they would lose badly. But the population feel a popular likely challenger will give Dr. Rowley a run for his money, and they also feel there should be a challenge for leadership to hold the leader accountable. However, it will take a major swing to create an upset in the leadership contest against an incumbent leader who has political muscle.
The poll was conducted in June and July by Dr. Vishnu Bisram who has been conducting opinion surveys in T&T over the last twenty-five years. The survey interviewed people to represent the demographic composition of the voting population. The poll interviewed the general population (non-party members who tend to traditionally support both UNC and PNM as well as PNM party voting members) to obtain a perspective of how the population views the PNM political leader and Prime Minister of the country.
According to he findings of the poll, the PM is not very popular outside of the PNM base but enjoys strong favorability rating among party members and its base. Party members and the base as well as non-supporters of the PNM give Dr. Rowley a huge advantage to win re-election as leader next month even though no one has announced any challenge for the post. It is very difficult for a challenger to unseat an incumbent for leadership because he has the party executive and the machinery behind him. Whoever decides to take up the mantle to challenge the leader has a lot of catching up to do because he holds an enormous lead.
Asked if they think Dr. Rowley will win re-election, 74% (of all respondents) said yes with only 4% saying no and 22% not offering an opinion. Among party supporters, 81% said Dr. Rowley will re-election as PNM leader with 2% saying no and 17% not offering an opinion.
Almost every traditional PNM supporter also says Dr. Rowley will also win re-election for PM two years hence. The general election, some two years away, is too far out to really predict its outcome though the trends right now show PNM retaining power come next election because of the divided opposition.
The findings of favorability ratings for each party and their political leaders and party support will be released in a subsequent report.