PNM still favourites for Monday elections

Dear Editor,

The latest findings of NACTA’s ongoing opinion tracking poll show that the November 5 general elections is turning out to be a battle between the ruling PNM and opposition UNCA for control of the government. However, the newly formed COP, which is a splinter group of the UNC, is still pulling significant support and playing the role of a spoiler. The PNM is holding a healthy lead over the opposition UNCA which itself is leading the COP but the ruling party has not crossed a majority of support in a majority of seats. As such, either party can win the elections because of the closeness of the contest in 8 battleground seats. The outcome in these “undecided marginal” seats will determine which of the two parties form the new government.

Right now, the PNM has a comfortable lead in 18 seats and the UNC in 15 seats with the fledgling COP not leading in any seat. COP is losing support over its going it alone approach which has upset its followers who are migrating towards the UNC.

But the COP remains relevant in all of the marginal seats and its support (or lack thereof) will help to determine which party wins the marginals as well as how many seats the PNM and UNCA will eventually win. Right now, COP has enough support to prevent the UNCA from winning the marginal seats which are leaning PNM.

The latest seat projections are based on updated tracking opinion polling conducted up until Oct 26 involving 1470 likely voters. Respondents were interviewed randomly to reflect the demographic composition of the population.

The findings show that more of what were “undecided voters” have been breaking for the UNCA than the PNM. Also, COP supporters are breaking for the UNCA rather than the PNM enhancing the UNCA’s electoral prospects. The UNCA has made progress in reducing the PNM’s advantage in several races but the COP is handicapping UNCA’s chances in seven seats which are crucial in winning the government.

According to the findings of the poll, the PNM appears safe in 16 seats and the UNCA in 12 seats. Of the remaining 13 seats, the UNCA has a narrow lead in three seats for a total of 15 seats. The PNM has a narrow lead in two seats for a total of 18 seats. One Tobago (East) seat is too close to call at this time. Three seats (Chaguanas East, Pointe-A-Pierre, and Princesstown South Tableand) are almost at a dead heat and as such too close to call at this time. And in four other marginal seats (San Juan, Tunapuna, St. Joseph, San Fernando), the PNM is way ahead of the divided opposition. Thus, the PNM has the edge of winning the elections because more seats (22) are leaning its way than the UNCA’s way but a UNCA victory cannot be ruled out especially if more COP supporters return to the parent party as they have been doing. If enough COP supporters join the UNCA bandwagon, then the UNCA could lead in 22 seats. An electoral accommodation can even win more seats as the combined support of the UNCA-COP is more than that of the PNM.

COP supporters are upset with their leadership’s combative, go-it alone approach even as support for the COP has declined substantially with many of its candidates projected to lose their deposits. Most COP supporters favour entering into an electoral accommodation with UNCA to win the elections. But the leadership of COP opposes any link with the UNCA. Thus, the PNM will win by a landslide.

Yours faithfully,

Vishnu Bisram

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