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Elections watch – part 2

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Part One of Elections Watch appearing in the SEARCHLIGHT e-paper of October 27, 2020 examined the constituencies of North Windward, North Central Windward and South Central Windward and tipped the ULP to retain all three constituencies based mainly on the observed trend away from the NDP in 2015 and the improbability of the three NDP newcomers overhauling deficits of 323, 2269 and 588 respectively. The best that the NDP could hope for would be a narrowing of the margins.

Like North Windward, North Leeward also trended significantly away from the NDP with Roland Patel Matthews’ lead shrinking from 182 in 2010 to just 12 in 2015. The serious concern for the NDP must be the significant inroads made by the ULP’s Carlos James in 2015, in villages like Fitz Hughes, Troumaca and the NDP stronghold of Petit Bordel, the home of Patel Matthews. The NDP will need to visit the constituency very often, with the right messaging, in order to have any chance of reversing that trend. The ULP on the other hand, will be hoping to maintain the 4% swing away from Matthews in 2015 by continuing the on the ground mobilization and pointing to the recent infrastructure developments in the constituency. Given the razor thin margin of victory for Matthews in 2015 and the observed trends, a Carlos James/ULP victory is easily the most likely outcome.

The Northern Grenadines will be easily returned to the NDP’s leader Godwin Friday in this 2020 election. The direct involvement of Sir James Mitchell is expected to stem Friday’s and the NDP’s loss of popularity seen in the 2015 election, where the NDP lost votes to the ULP in every polling station, including a loss of 75 votes in Paget Farm and 210 over the entire constituency. The ULP’s newcomer Carlos Williams will however do very well to simply hold on to the gains made by his successor Herman Belmar in 2015.

The island wide loss of popularity of the NDP in the last elections was also felt as far South as the Southern Grenadines where the NDP incumbent Terrance Ollivierre’s lead fell from 572 in 2010 to 412 in 2015, a significant achievement for the ULP’s Edwin Snagg given the minimal effort made by him and the ULP in that constituency. However, expect the NDP machinery to do all it can to stop the bleeding and easily return Ollivierre, even if with a reduced margin.

When Sir Louis Straker retired from politics after winning the Central Leeward seat in 2005 he had secured a margin of 570 votes. It should therefore not have come as a surprise that he would have achieved a victory margin of 313 votes upon his return in 2015, especially when bolstered by a national 3%-point swing towards his Party. However, inaction by the ULP and Sir Louis’ replacement saw his 570 vote lead trimmed to 150 in 2010, triggering his unexpected return in 2015. This time around, the NDP’s Ben Exeter is likely to have a more formidable challenger in ULP newcomer Orando Brewster, who is only being asked to maintain a 300-point margin. Brewster is also likely to attract more of the youth vote and can point to the many investment opportunities and infrastructural developments effected and promised for the area. The NDP’s Ben Exeter will be at a clear disadvantage with no achievements to point to or specifics to promise and having to stem a worrisome swing of over 100 votes in Barrouallie in 2015.
The South Leeward seat continues to be a tale of two constituencies, with the northern half from Vermont to Clare Valley belonging to the ULP and the Southern section from Questelles to Campden Park owned by the NDP. The NDP lost this seat in 2005 by 115 votes but on his second attempt, NDP’s Nigel Stephenson won by 199 votes in 2010. In 2015, this lead was however trimmed to just 118 votes due mainly to the observed island wide swing away from the NDP.

Stephenson has however remained close to the ground and to his Campden Park base throughout in a desperate attempt to see off the strong challenge from the ULP’s newcomer Minerva Glasgow. While Glasgow may make some inroads in the NDP’s Campden Park fortress, she may well need a second attempt to get over the line. Stephenson and the NDP should again prevail albeit with a reduced margin.

NDP’s Daniel Cummings will easily retain the West Kingstown seat for the NDP, this despite his 511 vote margin in 2010 being trimmed to 444 in 2015. This loss of ground was concentrated in the Lowmans areas where there was a 143 vote swing away from NDP and Cummings. It will however continue to be hard work for the ULP’s Deborah Charles throughout the rest of the constituency, especially given Cummings’ large national profile and the perception that he is a representative who has kept close to the ground and his constituents.

So far, based on the numbers and historical trends, Elections Watch has called 5 seats for the ULP and 4 seats for the NDP. The remaining six seats of Central Kingstown, East Kingstown, West St. George, Marriaqua, East St. George and South Windward, will be evaluated on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 in SEARCHLIGHT’s final pre-election publication.