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People’s National Movement Tunapuna candidate Esmond Forde with party supporters.

The People’s National Movement (PNM) Tunapuna candidate Esmond Forde is ahead of United National Congress (UNC) candidate and former professional footballer David Nakhid in the tussle for the marginal seat in Monday’s General Election.

Incumbent Forde is leading Nakhid, a first-time contender in the political arena, by a 16 per cent margin, according to the findings of a recent poll on the constituency conducted by HHB and Associates Ltd led by pollster Louis Bertrand.

The poll, commissioned by Guardian Media, has a six per cent margin of error.

Interviews were conducted on 200 registered voters in the constituency on issues ranging from what influences their vote, party best capable of solving problems, general progress of the country and people, performance in the constituency (PNM) and (UNC), assessment of candidates, opinion of the candidates, reasons for the ratings, voting intentions and voter switching patterns.

The poll is one of six marginal constituencies HHB and Associates focused on leading up to the election.

Tunapuna, situated along the east-west corridor is a marginal constituency with 26,650 registered voters. This seat, which has been mainly dominated by the PNM over the years, has changed hands several times.

In 2000, UNC candidate Mervyn Assam snatched the constituency from PNM’s Eddie Hart, who had served for two terms.

A decade later, former Central Bank governor Winston Dookeran, who contested on a Congress of the People ticket under the then People’s Partnership coalition administration, emerged victorious over PNM rival Esther Le Gendre.

In the 2015 polls, the PNM took control of the seat with candidate Forde capturing 11,228 votes to the UNC’s Wayne Munroe, who netted 7,613 ballots.

This constituency has been considered to be one of the seats that determines which of the two main political parties will win any general election to form the government.

Looking at the voting intentions, respondents were asked which party they would vote for in the August 10 General Election.

Precisely “39 per cent” reported they would support the PNM to the UNC’s “23 per cent.” However, “22 per cent” were “undecided” while “six per cent” refused to say. Ten per cent opted not to vote. The poll reported a “relatively high” (70 per cent) “likelihood of voting among electors.”

In terms of “favourability”, respondents gave Forde a “57 per cent” rating compared to Nakhid’s “41 per cent.” More people, the survey showed, are unsure about Nakhid “46 per cent” than Forde “24 per cent.” However, both candidates tied with respect to “caring about people” in the constituency.

A significantly higher percentage of electors (41 per cent) rated Forde as doing a good job than his UNC counterpart (18 per cent).

With respect to things disliked about the candidates, the poll found that Forde’s main problems “seem to be that he is perceived as not doing a good job (39 per cent) and he is not seen enough in the constituency (26 per cent). Nakhid on the other hand, respondents felt, is not well known (27 per cent) in the area.

Regarding which candidate is better known in the constituency, Forde obtained a “90 per cent” rating compared to Nakhid’s “78 per cent.”

The poll also looked at voter switching patterns by comparing how respondents voted in the 2015 General Election with how they intend to vote on August 10.

It was discovered that 76 per cent of those who voted for the PNM in 2015 intend to do so again in 2020. This compares with 77 per cent of those who voted for the UNC in 2015 who intend to do so again in Monday’s polls. It also found that six per cent of those who voted for the PNM in 2015 intend to switch to the UNC.

“Race, as a factor in voting intentions, continues to be important in this constituency,” the poll stated.

Delving deeper into the voting intentions, the poll stated that 58 per cent of Afro-Trinis intend to vote for the PNM with only 13 per cent intending to vote for the UNC.

“On the other hand, while 42 of Indo-Trinis intend to vote for the UNC, 11 per cent intend to vote for the PNM,” the poll noted.

Poll’s methodology

A sample of 200 electors were drawn from the constituency. The polling divisions (PDs) were grouped by loyalty to the UNC/PNM.

Loyal PDs were identified as those in which the winning party had a difference from the loser of 15 per cent or greater.

All other PDs were deemed to be “marginal.”

This allowed HHB and Associates to select smaller samples from “loyal” polling divisions and larger samples from “marginal” divisions.

The demographic characteristics of the sample with respect to age, gender, race and religion reflect the pollster’s estimate of the characteristics of the constituency as a whole.