The findings of latest tracking opinion poll being conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association finds Dr Roodal Moonilal is rated as the best and most effective debater in parliament with the government bench targeting him with varied stratagems in the hope of silencing him. Supporters of the opposition UNC feel that Moonilall drives fears in the government bench with his sharp tongue laced with witty remarks. The poll also shows that the opposition UNC is slipping in support in the marginal constituency of Toco/Sangre Grande but gaining momentum in Tunapuna from similar surveys conducted last February. Preliminary findings reveal UNC under pressure in some other marginal constituencies inclusive of Barataria and Pointe-A-Pierre. To stop the bleeding in support in the East-West corridor and buttress its chance nationally, supporters advise selection of national high profile and eminent candidates in St. Augustine and Cumuto/Manzanilla and elsewhere that borders key marginal seats. To capture the government, UNC must retain its 18 seats and pick up three of six marginals. Two of its 18 seats are toss ups. The introduction of non-traditional candidates in six marginals has given the party a makeover from its 2015 outlook drawing curious onlookers.
The latest ongoing tracking poll, being conducted by Dr. Vishnu Bisram, comprises of 164 respondents of Toco/Grande from last Sunday and of 216 respondents in Tunapuna over the last two weeks. The respondents surveyed generally reflect the demographics of the constituencies. Only data from likely voters are included in the findings. Other constituencies are being surveyed.
Based on the poll in Toco/Grande, the UNC has moved from an upswing of a tie against the unpopular Glenda Jennings in February to a downswing trailing by 10% just a day ago. Some three quarters of the voters never heard of UNC candidate Nabila Greene to give her a favorable or unfavorable rating. This compares with one third for PNM candidate Roger Munroe to give him a rating. Some 90% of the voters know Munroe’s family, who runs a large business empire in the constituency. Munroe is also an alderman of the Boro Corporation. In popular support, PNM leads UNC 42% to 32% with 6% for minor parties. A fifth of the voters are still undecided with many saying they are not dismissing minor parties. With so many undecided voters, the prospect for a UNC victory cannot be ruled out.
In Tunapuna, the PNM’s Esmond Forde remains the favorite against challenger David Nakhid who has been gaining momentum because of his celebrity status as a popular footballer. Forde is praised for being the best MP perhaps in the constituency’s history and nationally during the current parliamentary term for attending to constituent’s issues and interacting with them. There is still some dissatisfaction in the constituency and the UNC has closed a 11% deficit in February to only 7% now since Nakhid was announced as candidate. PNM leads 47% to 40% with minor parties polling 2% and 11% undecided or refusing to disclose voter preference.
Overall, voters from both parties welcome the changes in the elections line up replacing unpopular incumbents as candidates. The UNC leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar, gets kudos for bringing in newer faces and youths, but supporters feel the party should retain some experienced stalwarts for its front bench including Dr. Roodal Moonilall, Rushton Paray, Fazal Karim, among others. The trio received satisfactory ratings in service to their constituencies. Supporters describe Moonilall and Karim as being knowledge and experienced in parliamentary practice having served in parliament for two terms. Moonilal is rated as the best debater in parliament, grudgingly praised by even PNM supporters. On the government side, Dr. Keith Rowley and Colm Imbert are rated as the best debaters even by UNC supporters. Party supporters like the way Moonilal takes them on. Supporters describe Moonilall as a veteran in parliamentary practice having served since the late 1990s. He is also described as very knowledgeable, academic oriented, experienced, and skilled in taking on opponents. He will be a good mentor for inexperienced aspiring MPs.
While no date is announced for the election, it is not expected to be beyond September 7, the fifth anniversary since the PNM returned to power. Dr. Rowley may want to call early elections to take advantage of soaring favorability ratings for handling of low Covid infections. But Kamla’s challenge cannot be underrated as she is praised for compassion in championing distribution of hampers and face masks for the poor. Her fate could very well depend on the selection of candidates in so-called ‘safe’ seats since those chosen in marginals, except for LaHorquetta, are neophytes with virtually nil political experience.