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Let eggs hatch

For candidates contesting the February 21 general election, this weekend must be the most hectic since the lead-up to the January 2008 poll that returned the Democratic Labour Party to power and ended the 14-year rule of the Barbados Labour Party.

According to the most recent poll conducted on behalf of Barbados TODAY by CADRES, headed by respected political scientist and pollster Peter Wickham, the DLP is now facing a popularity swing that is large enough to cause them to lose power.

While the Bees have taken obvious comfort in the poll finding, it appears that the Dems are living by the age-old response to polls in some quarters — polls don’t vote, people do. And judging from their activity this weekend, which we believe will get even more intense as February 21 nears, they are doing everything to get their message to those who can make the difference – the voters.

But it is clear they have no monopoly on this activity, because the Bees continue to be, busy. And to date we have not encountered a single candidate on either side who is not confident of victory and in every instance they base their conclusion on the level of support of electors, who are only too willing to pledge their support.

As everyone knows, however, in Barbados, with our clean record when it comes to conducting elections, each elector is only allowed to vote once, so it does not matter how many times and to how many people they pledge their support. On February 21 only one “X” can be cast — unless the voter intends to spoil the ballot.

That’s why we suggest that while no candidate should be so foolish as to concede defeat at this stage, he or she may appear more realistic, and respectful of the value each person on the electoral list attaches to his or her vote, if that candidate avoided the urge to act as though the election had already been won.

We have seen enough for us to offer this advice. We will not identify candidates, parties or locations to avoid the obvious embarrassment that could arise, but our news personnel have been fortunate enough to be out with some candidates and be in place to see the same constituents curse the BLP hopeful in the presence of his opponent, whom they praise, then embrace the BLP hopeful and “wash the DLP challenger in cuss” when the “Dem” was not present. Same voters, same household, same constituency.

Ironically, it is episodes like these that lead candidates to conclude they are “home and dry” or at least quite comfortable.

Based on historical patterns we know that the two major parties have a pretty clear picture of their support base among those they consider “party loyals”, but it would appear that there is a growing trend toward “independence” among Barbadians who have reached voting age.

In a high percentage of household “children” no longer feel obligated to vote the way their parents did, and even among mature voters it would appear that immediate circumstances — ability to pay next month’s mortgage, satisfying children’s education needs, the cost of living etc — have a far greater influence on middle class voters than party loyalty or voting history.

Given all these factors, candidates in the February 21 election should desist from counting their chickens before they hatch!

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