Based on the findings of ongoing opinion tracking survey being conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA), opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar trumps Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley on the issue of compassion or empathy, and it is a primary factor behind the gains that her party has made for the August 10 elections. A majority of people feel they were better off under Kamla as PM. However, updated findings of the tracking poll show the opposition UNC continues to slightly trail the PNM though narrowing the gap in key marginal constituencies where the outcome would be decided. The poll also finds that voters would have preferred another candidate of both parties in over half of the constituencies. The excitement level for this election is perhaps the lowest in history. This election may hold the record of lowest enthusiasm about voting because of the rejection of candidates from both sides as voters are not excited to cast ballots for so many of them. Another record may be the disenchantment level as three-fifths expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the government. Apathy runs very high. A major challenge for the parties would be to ‘get out the voters’, made even more difficult by Covid. Whichever side could get out their supporters on election day machinery would have the edge. And right now, almost two-fifths won’t vote. Another major finding of the survey is voters fear for the future of the country as they have little confidence in the economy.
The NACTA poll is being conducted by Dr. Vishnu Bisram who has been conducting election related surveys in Trinidad & Tobago for over 25 years. NACTA has been tracking support for the parties since the announcement of the elections over three weeks ago.
Based on findings of interviews of 520 likely voters, reflecting the demographic composition of Trinidad (Tobago not included), conducted over the last several days, Kamla defeats Rowley on empathy and compassion. Asked which Prime Minister was more compassionate, Kamla leads Rowley 52% to 44%. The poor in particular say they benefited a lot more from Kamla’s social and welfare services such as baby grant, laptop, text books, Gate, food cards, children hospital, medical grants for the poor, assistance to single mothers, flood aid, among others.
However, a higher compassionate rating is not reflecting in popular support for Kamla’s party as the two major parties are locked in a dead heat though the UNC has been making steady gains. Party and racial loyalty seem to mean a lot more to voters. When the latest numbers of popular support are updated with earlier aggregates of the last month, UNC and PNM are 45% and 44% respectively with 3% for the minor parties and 8% undecided. With the margin of error at 4%, it is a statistical tie. But the actual race is in the marginals where the PNM has held a lead in five and the UNC in three with one seat a toss up. Both sides are holding on to their base support of 15 seats each. (Popular support for the parties in Tobago will be released on Sunday).
The poll also finds that a large majority of voters are not pleased with the candidates they are offered by the two major parties. Some 65% said they would have preferred another candidate, describing some of them as ‘dead horse’. In fact, some people are so angry with their nominees and outgoing or incumbent MPs that they felt the horse is fare more useful to the country. Almost every voter said they would have preferred to have some other method of selection of nominees than through a small clique or the leadership.And when asked about their confidence in the future, a huge 87% said they don’t have a positive view and fear for the country.Polling results on Tobago would be released on Saturday.