July 5, 2005 Former gubernatorial candidate John P. de Jongh Jr. led a field of potential candidates in a political poll conducted last month to get a feel for who might become the territory's next governor.
St. Croix's John A. Boyd, the Virgin Islands' most experienced pollster, released an early poll on the 2006 race last week. His workers contacted 1,126 Virgin Islanders by phone about the major issues confronting the territory as well as choices about the next governor.
In a press release announcing the results, Boyd wrote that respondents on both St. Croix and St. Thomas identified the economy as the top issue facing the territory. Respondents on both islands agreed that education was the second-most important issue, followed by crime and government corruption.
Boyd, who has been taking polls regularly since 1982, said Tuesday that this poll was the first in a series running up to the 2006 election. It will probably be the only poll this year, with three or four polls in the election year. He said one of the goals of this poll was to determine who the candidates would be.
Residents selected randomly from the phone book were given the names of possible candidates and asked to grade them. They were also given the opportunity to add a name to the list.
De Jongh earned the best grades, according to the press release. Boyd said the most usual grade for de Jongh was an A, and his average grade was a B.
De Jongh, who placed second to Gov. Charles Turnbull in 2002, served several times as president of the St. Thomas/St. Croix Chamber of Commerce. He was formerly vice president of the Chase Bank, now FirstBank.
Cora Christian, who is on the medical staff at Hovensa, also received high marks. Her most common grade was a B-, while her average grade was a B.
Trailing behind Christian in the grade ranking were St. Thomas Sens. Celestino White, Lorraine Berry and Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, who received grades of C to B, depending on whether one looked at their average grade or the most common grade given each potential candidate.
Boyd said none of the other Crucian candidates fared as well in their overall scores on either St. Thomas or St. Croix. Average grades as well as the highest grade given ranged from a low average of D with the highest being a C. The list of potential Crucian candidates included Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards; Kenneth Mapp and Derek Hodge, both former lieutenant governors; Edgar Ross, a sitting judge; former V.I. Port Authority executive director Gordon Finch; and former Senate President David Jones. Also included was former Senator-at-Large Almando Liburd, whose results were similar to the Crucian candidates.
The Boyd poll indicates that 35 percent of all voters are undecided.
The poll could not be broken down into percentage points of which candidate was favored because candidates were added to the list throughout the poll as voters showed interest in them.
Past polls have always shown crime and the economy to be leading concerns, with jobs being the biggest problem named on St. Croix.
Along with corruption, education is also a newcomer to the top four.
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