In terms of popularity, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar are in a statistical deadheat going into tomorrow’s general election.
A summary of the national poll and six constituency polls conducted between July and August by HHB and Associates showed no discernible difference in popularity between the PNM and UNC political leaders.
With respect to competence as the next Prime Minister, there was a statistical tie between the two and only 11 per cent thought that someone else could do a better job.
However, ratings were strongly influenced by race, with 68 per cent of Afro Trinidadians stating that Dr Rowley would be the best prime minister and 61 per cent of Indo Trinidadians believing the same about Persad-Bissessar.
At the national level, one of the key findings relates to a pervasive and expanding lack of interest in the political process in T&T.
According to the poll, 40 per cent of respondents said that they either cared “not very much” (22 per cent) or “not at all” (18 per cent) who wins the election, while 59 per cent cared a great deal or a fair amount.
Just under half (45 per cent – 48 per cent) of those in the 18-44 age brackets do not care who wins the next general elections. This drops to between 29 per cent to 36 per cent for those in the 45-plus age brackets. Motivating the young people to get involved in the electoral process has been known to be difficult for some time now, but the lack of interest seems to be spreading up to age 44.
For those who intend to vote—71 per cent overall as compared with 67 per cent in 2015, the three top
issues which would influence the vote are utilities, unemployment and youth training and development.
For two of those issues there is a tie between the two parties as to who could better handle the issue and between a quarter (26 per cent) and a third (34 per cent) believe that neither party could effectively solve the problems.
As in all general elections to date, race is a key influencing factor in how people will vote, with 61 per cent of Afro Trinidadians likely to vote for the PNM and 55 per cent of Indo Trinidadians intending to vote for the UNC.
But elections are fought and won at the constituency level and results here will now be examined.
One indicator of how political parties will fare is how they are perceived to have performed at the constituency level.
Comparative ratings indicate that, on this basis, the PNM is likely to be strong in San Fernando West, Toco/Sangre Grande, Tunapuna and St Joseph.
Based on stated voter intentions, the closest fight is in Barataria/San Juan where the difference between the two top contending parties is a mere two per cent. St Joseph shows a PNM lead of nine per cent and Moruga/Tableland of 11 per cent. The biggest PNM wins appear to be in San Fernando West (by 20 per cent), Tunapuna (by 16 per cent) and Toco/Sangre Grande (by 13 per cent).
Moruga/Tableland, which shows a PNM lead of 11 per cent also has the highest percentage of undecided voters—27 per cent with an additional 11 per cent refusing to say how they intended to vote. How these groups eventually decide will determine the outcome in this constituency.
One factor of importance in determining constituency outcomes is party strength and loyalty. Results for Moruga/Tableland for example suggest that the PNM party image/loyalty is more significant than the image/ratings of the candidate.
Except for San Fernando West, PNM party loyalty for this election is marginally higher than UNC party loyalty.
In St Joseph and Toco/Sangre Grande the percentages of those who voted for the UNC in 2015 and who were at the time of the poll undecided how they would vote in 2020 were 33 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively.