The PNM and UNC’s moves to remove unpopular MPs as candidates for the general election is critical to their chances of winning the general election, the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) concludes in its latest poll.
NACTA noted the parties were still carried by the strength of the popularity of their leaders – the Prime Minister Dr Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. The findings showed Persad-Bissessar had a lead on Rowley before the covid19 pandemic which led to a course of action by Government that turned the Prime Minister’s ratings around.
“(Dr) Rowley’s job approval numbers have soared to 53 per cent and his handling of covid currently receives an endorsement of 64 per cent,” NACTA said on Saturday. His performance has been marginally affected by low numbers over the fallout of the visit to TT by Venezuelan vice president Delcy Rodriguez, in March, and his handling of the media, said NACTA which is based in New York, and is led by political analyst Dr Vishnu Bisram.
Before the pandemic, Rowley trailed Persad-Bissessar in popularity at 46 per cent with Persad-Bissessar at 55 per cent. At the time of March survey, NACTA said, “The UNC led in popular support while the PNM led in seats.” The survey also showed Persad-Bissessar edged Dr Rowley “in preference for support for PM” by 45 to 43 per cent.
But NACTA said there remain questions as to whether Persad-Bissessar’s “personal appeal and performance can earn enough gratitude to bowl out the PNM team.”
And this is where candidate selection will make the difference for both parties in this year’s general election, the pollster noted. While Rowley and Persad-Bissessar have done well as leaders, NACTA said, “Their parties (performance of ministers and the likeability of the team surrounding Persad-Bissessar) are struggling.”
NACTA wondered if the replacement of some unpopular candidates and its achievement of minimal infection and deaths will be enough “to win the PNM re-election.”
However, the pollster noted Rowley has been choosing national profile figures to contest seats, “replacing a sleuth of discredited MPs, boosting his chance for re-election.”
Rowley remains the PNM’s “star attraction” as several incumbent MPs “have earned the wrath of voters.”
In terms of the UNC, outside of Persad-Bissessar’s popularity, NACTA said, “Voters say the UNC’s executive has a paucity of individuals in whom they have faith and confidence to run ministries.”
NACTA added that most people in the UNC “have not been able to win over the imagination of the nation for lack of experience, capacity, political education, skill, and wherewithal to run a government.”
The pollster said Persad-Bissessar had to select nationally respected candidates. “She needs a strong line up in the eight marginals and 15 safe seats (Siparia excluded).” Persad-Bissessar is the Siparia MP.
NACTA said if Persad-Bissessar kept some incumbents who are assets and selected candidates who can win over voters, especially in the East-West Corridor, “she will replace Rowley at the PM’s office.”