Sunday 25 October, 2020

35-seat JLP win projected by Loop analyst for Thursday’s polls

With general elections just hours away, Jamaicans are in heightened expectation of the possible results of the high-stakes polls on Thursday.

Either the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) will be returned to office for a second term as the polls have unanimously predicted, or the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) will send shockwaves across the country and region with an astounding victory.

But whatever the outcome, that reality will depend on the individual fortunes of the 139 candidates who were recently nominated to contest the elections. And ahead of the outcome of the big day, only predictions can be proffered in terms of the anticipated results of the polls.

Therefore, subject to be proven wrong or right, a Loop News analyst ventures into an outline of the projected outcome of the polls relative to each of the 63 parliamentary seats that will be up for grabs.

The JLP's James Robertson and the PNP's Marsha Francis.

Starting in St Thomas, it is predicted that both incumbent representatives, Dr Fenton Ferguson in East St Thomas and James Robertson in West St Thomas, will be returned to Gordon House for the PNP and JLP, respectively, at the expense of Dr Michelle Charles of the JLP and Marsha Francis of the PNP.

While Francis would appear to have a reasonable mathematical chance of turning the tables on Robertson this time around after falling short by only 414 votes four years ago, it has become almost a standard feature for Robertson to sprint home just ahead of his challenges over the years, and Francis’ sudden, recent re-entry into the fray would certainly have left some unhealed wounds among PNP supporters in the constituency, that Robertson may be even further ahead at the winning post this time around.

Ferguson, meanwhile, can be counted on to trot home to his seventh straight victory in East St Thomas.

On to St Andrew, where there are a number of PNP and JLP candidates who are pretty much on the winning slate from before the actual polling begins. For the JLP, those ‘sure shots’ are Prime Minister Andrew Holness in the West Central  seat, Delroy Chuck in North East, Karl Samuda on his 10 runaway stint in North Central, Dr Nigel Clarke in North West, and Juliet Holness in East Rural, despite some mudslinging now on there.

The JLP's Fayval Williams (left) and the PNP's Venesha Phillips.

Additionally, the resourceful Fayval Williams, up against the fiery Venesha Phillips of the PNP in Eastern St Andrew, is expected to come home safely in front of her opponent. 

In Williams’ case, a recent voice note from Phillips in relation to opinion polling in the constituency and a bid to influence the polling team in the direction of her candidacy, told quite a story of the much-needed boost that Phillips’ team is in search of, this while Williams continues to steadily march along back to Gordon House.

For the PNP, the likes of party President, Dr Peter Phillips in East Central St Andrew, Dr Angela Brown-Burke in South West, Anthony Hylton in Western, and Mark Golding in South St Andrew, are all seemingly home and dried, despite Hylton’s faltering level of influence in the constituency.

Of special note in South East St Andrew, where the incumbent, PNP General Secretary, Julian Robinson, is seemingly caught in a battle on two fronts. With his former junior stable mate, Kari Douglas, having flipped the script and ending up as his JLP challenger, Robinson is bound to lose some of his customary PNP supporters to Douglas, who will likely get whopping support from the JLP base in the constituency in a bid to unseat Robinson, which would be a huge political scalp for the JLP.

The PNP's Julian Robinson and the JLP's Kari Douglas.

But while that is quite possible, as is, Robinson is slightly favoured to come out on top and save the PNP the embarrassment of a key loss to the Labourites.

At the same time, West Rural incumbent Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn could be among the PNP's scalps on election night, with political neophyte Krystal Tomlinson's relative warmth and likeability expected to push her across the finish line slightly ahead of the Olympian whose management style is said to have rubbed some constituents the wrong way. 

Down in Kingston, Phillip Paulwell and Desmond McKenzie are in virtually no contests for the East Kingston and Port Royal and the Western Kingston seats, respectively, though Paulwell’s shine has been reportedly waning over recent times.

But it could be choppy waters for Imani Duncan-Price in Central Kingston, where she is believed to have not bonded well enough with key pockets of influence in the constituency, to ensure the usual armchair ride the former PNP Member of Parliament (MP), Ronald Thwaite, typically enjoyed for the party.

Imani Duncan Price of the PNP and the JLP's Donovan Williams.

While Duncan-Price could be in for a quite a political fight from Donovan Williams of the JLP, she is expected to come home in front.

Then in St Catherine, the intrigue begins to intensify, although a whole slew of candidates are pretty much ‘sure winners’ already. These include Everald Warmington in South West, Dr Andrew Wheatley in South Central, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange in Central, Denise Daley in East St Catherine, Fitz Jackson in South St Catherine, and Dr Christopher Tufton in West Central.   

Others like Alando Terrelonge in East Central, Natalie Neita in a four-way contest in North Central, and Hugh Graham in North West, are expected to win, but not necessarily all convincingly.

Terrelonge is projected to beat back the noisy campaign of the PNP’s Raymond Pryce, who, if he should pull off a victory, would have defied seemingly insurmountable odds, considering his relatively late entry into the foray following the short-lived De-la-Haye campaign before Price got there.

The PNP's Colin Fagan and Robert Miller of the JLP.

This is while Colin Fagan is in real trouble in South East, where the affable and hardworking Robert ‘Big Rob’ Miller has been putting up a good fight, and is believed to be in a solid position to further damage the former ‘PNP Country’ label of the Sunshine City of Portmore, which could be in line to become the ‘Sunshine Parish’ if the polls hold out and the JLP regains state power. However, with Fagan reportedly improving his standing in the constituency after heeding calls to step up his game regarding his representation, he is expected to barely scrape through for a fourth consecutive win. 

And in North East St Catherine, the PNP’s Oswest Senior-Smith and the JLP’s Kerensia Morrison are locked in what is expected to be a close contest in the seat that tends to favour the JLP, but has gone otherwise a number of times.

Senior-Smith, having had much more time to cement his presence, and with his more high-profile legal background, looks well poised to make a good showing, and Morrison’s largely ‘losing’ record so far in representational politics, could be another plus for him.

Additionally, the not too well managed exit of the former JLP MP, Leslie Campbell, from the seat, should present another hurdle for the governing party to clear in its bid to reclaim the seat.

Oswet Senior-Smith of the PNP and the JLP's Kerensia Morrison.

But in spite of all the hiccups and challenges facing the Morrison candidacy, it is still believed that while it should be a ding dong battle to the wire, the high JLP favourability ratings ahead of the polls are expected to keep Morrison in real contention and bring her home to a narrow victory on Thursday night, as Campbell did by a margin of only 122 votes in 2016.

In Clarendon, Mike Henry in Central, going like Samuda for his 10th march into Gordon House, is already assured of that come Thursday.

Newcomer Robert Nesta Morgan also seems to have broken the back of a once really threatening bid by resident medical doctor, Desmond Brennan, for the North Central seat, and despite all the posturing, violence and bad blood in the midst, Pearnel Charles Jr is expected to be returned as MP for South East Clarendon.

All three JLP candidates are expected to hit the winning column, with the South West Clarendon seat expected to remain in the PNP’s hands through Lothan Cousins.

The incumbent Horace Dalley (left) of the PNP is in a tough battle with attorney-at-law Dwight Sibbles of the JLP in Northern Clarendon.

However, both Northern Clarendon and North West Clarendon with the PNP’s Horace Dalley and Richard Azan, respectively, as the incumbents, are seemingly in for epic battles, and at least one of the two incumbents is expected to again taste defeat at the hands of the JLP, as their political history includes a surprising defeat for each before.

In Manchester, it is expected to be ‘as you were’ for incumbents Audley Shaw, Mikael Phillips and Michael Stewart, with Peter Bunting in Central Manchester also expected to win, but not without at least some anxious moments courtesy of JLP contestant, Rhoda Crawford.

Down in St Elizabeth, Floyd Green’s hard work and sheer presence and persona are expected to allow him to easily retain the South West constituency, and JC Hutchinson, despite the Holland land saga – from which he may even benefit politically as a result of being seen as bringing opportunities to small farmers - should get home safely.

As for incumbent Frank Witter and challenger Dwaine Spencer in South East St Elizabeth, the usual close race is anticipated, save for the likely JLP bounced from the overwhelming poll findings scenario, which should see Witter home safely.

The JLP's Frank Witter (left) and the PNP's Dwaine Spencer.

Then, most interestingly, what has perennially been one of the safest seats nationally for the PNP - North East St Elizabeth - is now poised for a battle royal for supremacy. Young enough Turk, Basil Waite, is facing a tough fight from former PNP backer and caretaker, the resourceful Delroy ‘Gary’ Slowley, but is expected to come home slightly ahead.

In Westmoreland, Luther Buchanan in Eastern, Wykeham McNeill in Western, and  Dwayne Vaz in Central remain in ‘PNP Country’.

Hanover is expected to remain as it was, with the PNP’s Ian Hayles and Dave Brown of the JLP expected back in Gordon House, though Hayles in Western, despite a significant margin of victory last time around, is somewhat susceptible, and is notably facing a female this time around.

While former Test cricketer, Wavell Hinds, is yearning to score heavily on the field of play in the Eastern constituency, the pro-JLP public opinion factor is expected to bring Dave Brown home a little more comfortably than he did in 2016.

Dave Brown (left) of the JLP is expected to dismiss his challenger, former Test cricketer, Wavell Hinds.

Then in St James, the JLP with four of the five seats in the last Parliament, is expected to make a clean sweep this time around, with former Montego Bay Mayor, Homer Davis, expected to finally take home the Southern seat, and Marlene Malahoo-Forte, if she needed any help, having surely gotten it with her rival, Dr Andre Haughton’s latest foot-in-mouth utterances against “pollsters without qualification” amid the reality of Don Anderson’s poll findings for the constituency, which were not to his liking.

In Trelawny, it is normally a 1-1 split between the PNP and JLP. Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, affectionately called ‘Mana D’, is more than a force to be reckoned with in South Trelawny, and Victor Wright is on fertile PNP soil in the North.

However, in the case of Wright, his margin of victory was marginal the last time around, and with his own Government property saga after blowing the Holland property fuse on JC Hutchinson in St Elizabeth, the Labourites must be hell-bent on wiping him off the political map.

Add a vibrant JLP candidate in Tova Hamilton of the JLP in the mix – not to mention the JLP poll bounce - and it is not difficult to realise that Wright has a huge fight on his hands and could easily be out in the cold on Thursday night.

The incumbent Victor Wright may be in for a real fight on Thursday with the young, vibrant Tova Hamilton of the JLP.

St Ann has Lisa Hanna as a virtual surety save for some internal rumblings in South East, while Marsha Smith is ready to ride home in triumph in Shahine Robinson’s old stomping ground in North East.

In South West, the JLP’s Zavia Mayne seems to have quietly and effectively gone about his business, and laid a steady enough foundation to produce victory on Thursday.

In North West St Ann, the incumbent, Dr Dayton Campbell of the PNP, is in an entirely different position, with two hard-hitting competitors in what is normally a two-competitor race.

Having failed alongside the party’s leadership to get independent candidate, Peter Shand, a breakaway former staunch Comrade, to abandon his bid for the seat, Campbell is expected to lose a number of his usual PNP supporters, and with his JLP challenger, Krystal Lee, turning up the heat, is expected to be in a tight race for Gordon House. However, with a recent Don Anderson poll having him eight points clear, Campbell is expected win a third consecutive term in the constituency, though not without a fight.

The JLP's Dr Norman Dunn (left), like he did in the 2017 by-election, is expected to get the better of Dr Shane Alexis of the PNP.

The three incumbents in St Mary – Robert Montague, Morais Guy and Dr Norman Dunn, are all expected back in Gordon House. Montague faltered politically two general elections ago, and is unlikely to make the same general mistake again, while Dunn has been too busy and too resourceful to be stopped just now.

Guy, based on his margin of victory last time out in what is still a traditional PNP seat, would take a lot of beating to be dethroned come Thursday.

In Portland, the Vaz train is marching on and is expected to be safely home come Thursday, bearing both Daryl in West and Ann-Marie in the East, with the latter constituency like  what has happened in the western side of the parish, believed to be fast shedding its ‘PNP Country’ image.

Collectively, 31 seats are projected to be definitely in the JLP column at the end of counting of ballots for the polls, with 24 being similarly projected for the PNP.

That leaves eight seats that are just too close to call at this stage, but it seems practical that the JLP will pick up three or four of the eight, thereby giving the Andrew Holness-led party a likely 35-seat presence in Parliament after the general elections.

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