NACTA poll: No third-party threat in safe seats

THE PNM and UNC face no threat of losing their safe seats to smaller parties, despite their respective supporters being displeased with some candidates in those seats.

But the smaller parties pose a threat in the marginal constituencies in the August 10 general election.

This was one finding of a North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) poll released on Saturday.

But NACTA said marginal seats could be affected by the entry of third parties, enabling one of the major parties to win with less than a majority of the votes. The poll added that the PNM and UNC go into the election with 15 safe seats each in Trinidad, and nine marginal seats. This poll did not include Tobago.

The poll found widespread dissatisfaction and disappointment with candidate selection in some safe seats that could see a lower-than-usual turnout having an effect on the so-called marginal seats that border them.

NACTA said there is more dissatisfaction with the UNC candidates in its stronghold constituencies as opposed to PNM candidates in their electoral strongholds.

Voters find many of those candidates are not parliamentary material. Many voters are turned off, and many traditional supporters say they will not vote because they don’t like some of the nominees.

Voters are also upset with "carpetbagging" nominees, who do not live or work in or near the constituency and are not even known by voters, but who have been chosen as candidates.

Some of the candidates have extremely high negative reactions, in the 70th percentile and higher. NACTA said voters have utmost disdain for some of them.

The poll finds the PNM and UNC are experiencing disgruntlement and internal rebellion among voters in their rejection of likeable incumbents and/or in the selection of challengers in some marginals and safe seats.

NACTA said this could put "pressure" on a party’s candidates in places like Moruga/Tableland, Tunapuna, St Joseph, Barataria, Chaguanas East, Pointe-a-Pierre, and Toco/ Sangre Grande, either because of unpopular selections in the seats themselves or in neighbouring constituencies where lower-than-normal turnout is projected.

NACTA also said the voter turnout in some UNC safe seats is expected to be low and this could have a ripple effect in the marginals, shaping their outcome.

The poll also finds that voters are very angry at being under-serviced and neglected for decades in some constituencies

It finds there are more complaints in the opposition-held than in government-held safe seats. In St Augustine, NACTA observed, voters are extremely upset with what they describe as "neglect" and "abandonment" by elected representatives.

But independent or third-party candidates do not find much favour among voters in this political system. As an example, NACTA said, COP leader Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Inshan Ishmael and any prospective Patriotic Front candidate are not getting traction at this time to seriously threaten the UNC’s hold on St Augustine.

But NACTA observed in neighbouring Tunapuna and St Joseph, third-party entry could hurt the UNC’s prospect where its candidate is closing the huge electoral gap of 2015.

Third-party candidates could also affect the outcome in the marginals of Barataria/San Juan, Pointe-a-Pierre, and Chaguanas East, where close contests are forecast.

With the election four weeks away, the outcomes in several of these seats are up in the air.


"NACTA poll: No third-party threat in safe seats"

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