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This AFC poll would suggest that when ethnic support hardens near elections the PNCR could win

Dear Editor,

The recent release of the AFC poll results provides new material for public discussion. I have however not seen any analysis of the results by our local experts nor by the major political parties themselves.  Thus far, we have only gotten the AFC's side of the story. Looking over the numbers as reported in the press, however, it strikes me that the party that is best positioned to win the election is in fact the PNCR.

The poll puts the PPP/C at 40% and the PNCR at 36%. Considering the margin of error of the poll, this result places both parties in a dead heat or a statistical tie. Any of the two could win the next election. But the PNCR is better positioned. Here's why. The AFC is said to have 27% support among Afro-Guyanese and 12% among Indo-Guyanese. This support is most likely soft support, based on the flirting Guyanese normally do with the small parties up until the last weeks before voting day. I predict that the AFC support will disappear as soon as the heat of the campaign picks up and voting day approaches. The poll numbers indicate that when this soft AFC support runs back to the two major parties, the PNCR has the bigger gain to make. Even if we are generous with the AFC and assume that it would lose only half of its support from both racial groups, the PNCR will then move close to 50% (36 plus 13) and the PPP/C to 46% (40 plus 6). What's more, the PNCR will pull back a bigger proportion of mixed voters, among whom the party has always done well.Â

If the PNCR is paying attention, this poll is good news for them. The party is well positioned to win, even though they are far from fully galvanising their support base. The poll results should tell them that if they show more energy, organisation and creativity, this is their election to win. Congress Place needs to crank up.Â

Moving on, one of the mysterious things about the poll is the absence of "undecideds" or floating voters. When you do the arithmetic, 100% of those polled chose a party. This is unusual in any country, more so in Guyana where people are a little shy about saying how they intend to vote. Any poll in Guyana will give you a 15 to 20% "undecideds". The AFC poll tells us there is no such person. One suspects that through statistical manipulation of the results, the undecided voters were placed in the AFC column. Maybe, the thinking was that if a voter is undecided in Guyana, it means he is not voting for either the PPP/C or the PNCR. He must be voting for the alternative choice, the AFC. Whatever the reason, this strangeness in the poll results cries out for explanation.

Yours faithfully,

G. Nurse

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