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San Fernando West candidates, Sean Sobers, left, of the UNC and PNM’s Faris Al- Rawi, give thumbs ups after crossing paths while campaigning on Leotaud Street, San Fernando, last month

Chester Sambrano

One week to polling day and it seems that incumbent Faris Al Rawi, the People’s National Movement candidate, has a significant lead over his closest opponent Sean Sobers of the United National Congress (UNC) in the marginal seat of San Fernando West.

According to a 2020 General Election poll commissioned by Guardian Media and conducted by HHB and Associates, the PNM has a 20 per cent advantage over the UNC. The margin of error was six per cent.

The people polled were asked: “If there was a General Election on August 10, 2020, how would you vote?” To this, 49 per cent responded by saying PNM, while 29 per cent said the UNC. It should be noted that at the time of the poll 15 per cent of respondents were either unsure of or refused to say who they would vote for. However, based on the figures, even if Sobers were to gather the 15 per cent not aligned he would still be five per cent behind Al-Rawi.

It is also worth to mention that seven per cent of the San Fernando West electorate indicated that they would not vote.

In digging deeper into the projected voting patterns in the constituency it was found that race remains a factor in how they make their choice. A total of 67 per cent of Afro-Trinidadians said they intend to vote for the PNM with only five per cent leaning towards the UNC. On the other hand, 31 per cent of Indo-Trinidadians have plans to vote for the UNC, while 24 per cent intent to vote for the PNM.

At the same time, 22 per cent of Indo and Afro Trinidadians said they are undecided. 15 per cent of Indo-Trinidadians refused to say and three per cent of Afro Trinidadians did the same.

As we polled delved into the candidates themselves it was determined, not surprisingly, that Faris Al Rawi is better known with 92 per cent, as opposed to 62 per cent for Sobers. During the last five years, Al-Rawi also served as Attorney General of this country.

In terms of their favourability, again, Al-Rawi is well ahead with 55 per cent while Sobers has amassed 35 per cent.

The poll also looked at some of the reasons for the ratings and it was found that the PNM’s candidate outperforms the UNC’s with respect to doing a good job.

In this regard, the incumbent has garnered 45 per cent compared to Sobers’ 27 per cent.

The pollster noted that “This is not surprising since the PNM candidate is the incumbent and is doing something in the constituency vs the UNC candidate who had not yet had an opportunity to perform.”

It found that with respect to caring about people both candidates copped 22 per cent.

There is a point to note that with respect to things disliked about candidates, Al- Rawi’s main problem seemed to be that he is perceived as doing nothing (26 per cent) and that people need a change (24 per cent).

Looking at Sobers, his main issue is that he is not seen often enough in the constituency (23 per cent).

The poll also looked at voter switching patterns. To gain this insight into this, the pollster compared how respondents voted in 2015 elections and how they intend to vote on August 10, 2020.

It was discovered that 68 per cent of those who voted for the PNM in 2015 intend to do so again in 2020. This compares with 71 per cent of those who voted UNC in 2015 who also intend to do so again this time around.

It was also found that 14 per cent of people who voted for UNC in 2015 have intentions of switching to PNM. In comparison, 8 per cent of people who voted for the PNM in 2015 indicated plans to switch to UNC.

According to the pollsters, “This suggests that voting patterns are likely to be similar to that of the 2015 elections.”

One thing is for certain in San Fernando West, however, there is expected to be a high voter turnout on August 10 with 75 per cent likely to come out to cast their ballot.

In 2015, Al- Rawi got 10, 112 votes compared to 6, 802 for the then UNC candidate Raziah Ahmed.