Most PPP supporters reject Irfaan Ali; Granger will face tougher battle against Nandlall, Anthony -opinion poll

Dr. Kirk Meighoo

(Demeraran Waves) The People’s Progressive Party Civic’s presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali is being rejected by most party supporters who instead favour Anil Nandlall or Dr. Frank Anthony, according to an opinion poll conducted by the little-known Turkeyen Research and Polling Institute.

TRPI, which is headed by United States (US)-based Political Scientist, Dr. Baytoram Ramharack, said the David Granger-led governing A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition would be better off going to the polls with Ali at the helm of the PPP’s campaign.

“Indeed, the polling results seem to suggest that President Granger will have his easiest battle against Ali and toughest against Anthony and Nandlall. In this sense, one of the implications that may come from our final findings is that it may actually be in the APNU+AFC’s favor to call elections quickly, with Ali as the PPP’s Presidential nominee,” states the TRPI in its preliminary findings.

No actual figures were provided to show Guyanese political preferences of Ali, Nandlall, Anthony or Vindhya Persaud, all of whom were contenders for the presidential candidacy in the PPP’s 35-member Central Committee, the second highest decision-making body in between Congresses. No reference was made to Nandlall facing charges for the alleged larceny of law books.

The polling agency failed to attract top western diplomats and other stakeholders who were purportedly invited to attend the presentation of the findings at a news briefing.

The briefing came days after Ali lost a Guyana Court of Appeal battle to avoid fraud charges in the Lower Court. Huge question marks also remain over his academic qualifications since he has so far failed to validate the authenticity of one his degrees that he had used to gain entry to a number of foreign universities.

The TRPI said said Nandlall was ahead even in Ali’s home village and in the traditional PPP strongholds in Berbice. “In terms of the PPP’s political support in the upcoming election, the party seems to have made an unpopular decision which may have some bearing on its electoral performance. A significant number of people is critical of the choice of Mr. Ali as its Presidential candidate. Swing voters in particular appear to reject him unanimously.”

“What is notable is that Mr. Ali is rebuffed even by most PPP supporters who appear to prefer the former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, and to a lesser extent, Dr. Frank Anthony in some areas. Mr. Ali’s support is low even in his hometown on the West Coast and surrounding areas, while Nandlall corners almost all the support on the Corentyne and is split with Dr. Anthony elsewhere. From what we see so far, on a national basis, Mr. Ali is only ahead of Dr. Vindhya Persaud as the PPP Presidential candidate,” states the preliminary findings.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is on record as saying that he personally campaigned for Ali to be picked as the PPP’s presidential candidate because he has proven himself to be a hard worker while as Minister of Housing, Water and Tourism. Jagdeo has given little credence to the potential adverse impact of Ali’s legal and academic troubles on his chances at the next general elections against Granger who is viewed as personally incorruptible.

Poll credibility

Questions were raised about the poll which was conducted under the leadership of Trinidadian political scientist, Dr. Kirk Meighoo. He could not say who funded the poll or trained the more than 12 interviewers.

“We can say that the pollsters acted with utmost integrity and conducted their research in reality. I can guarantee that these are not fake results,” he said.

He debunked suggestions that the poll was tailored to favour East Indo-Guyanese and against Afro-Guyanese, given the fact that Ramharack is a close associate of the virtually defunct Rise Organise and Rebuild (ROAR) political party. “We tried as much as possible to have a mixed set of surveyors and in regions where there was a majority of one race or another, we placed surveyors reflecting that racial composition,” he said.

Meighoo said about 1,400 voting age citizens were interviewed in coastal areas of Guyana, but he could not name the political administrative regions where the poll was conducted. The TRPI representative said the sample size was structured to produce a 95 percent confidence level as a three percent margin of error is normal for such a size.

He said the sample was stratified to represent the demographics of the population based on ethnicity (39% Indians, 30% Africans, 20% Mixed, 10% Amerindians, 1% others), gender (approximate 50-50) and regional distribution, with the largest component of the sample coming from Region 4. He said there were respondents from the cities or towns and rural areas as well as the hinterlands and who came from varied occupational classes and professions and ages.

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