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Poll: Incumbent party ahead in Tobago

Orville London.

SCARBOROUGH — A poll ahead of next Monday’s Tobago House of Assembly election is predicting a landslide victory for the incumbent People’s National Movement.

The poll, by Nigel Henry and Tarik Parris of the firm Solution by Simulation, was carried out by telephone from January 7-9. It showed the Orville London-led PNM team winning 11 of the 12 seats being contested. And Ashworth Jack, leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People, has an uphill struggle to retain his seat, figures suggested.

The pollsters reported, however, that while the PNM was in the lead, “more than one in three Tobagonians are still waiting to be convinced”. Apart from the incumbent PNM, the TOP and the Hochoy Charles-led The Platform for Truth are also fielding full slates of candidates in the January 21 election.

The poll showed that 46 per cent of interviewees favoured the PNM, while 18 per cent favoured the TOP. But 36 per cent of electors surveyed failed to indicate a preference. The pollsters said some of the registered voters interviewed chose The Platform of Truth, “but the total support did not register above statistically significant level”.

The report said: “Unless TOP can tap into the hearts of the large block of voters in the middle, the PNM is set to repeat its landslide of 2005.”

The PNM scored an 11-to-one victory at the polls eight years ago.

Henry said 30 per cent of those interviewed said the most important issue in the election is internal self-governance for the island, while 22 per cent said it was completed or stalled projects and 19 per cent said the biggest issue is corruption. The pollsters said 29 per cent of interviewees also listed “a myriad of other issues such as general economic development, road repair and land and law reform as also being important.”

“TOP’s biggest challenge is its deficit on the issue of internal self-government, the biggest decider in this election.” The report continued: “One of the most surprising findings of the poll is that Mr. Ashworth Jack is among the candidates with the biggest gap to close, trailing the PNM’s Sheldon Cunningham by a 43 per cent margin.”

The pollsters said the number of respondents who said they made their choice on the basis of internal self-government for Tobago was higher in Jack’s electoral district than in any other, with a margin of 44 per cent.

“This suggests that voters find Mr Jack too closely associated with the central Government to be a suitable leader of the island’s Assembly,” the survey said.

The pollsters said they were not commissioned to do the survey by any campaign or political organisation. Calls were made to 478 likely voters in registered households and the interviews were done via landlines. The margin of error for the overall sample was plus or minus 4.4 per cent. (Guardian)

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