If the general election had been held last Sunday, the Legislature’s top vote getters would be newcomers, according to a poll conducted by the University of the Virgin Islands. Stacy Plaskett would be the new delegate to Congress and a run-off would be necessary to determine the gubernatorial race.
In one question, 73 percent of voters said none of the incumbents deserve to be reelected.
“Many respondents didn’t like any of the senators,” said Asha Degames of the Eastern Caribbean Center.
Haldane Davies, UVI vice president of business development and innovation, said Thursday at a video conference on St. Thomas and St. Croix, that the poll was “statistically significant” because it demonstrated how a sample of voters across the Virgin Islands would cast their vote. He said in a population of 44,000 voters, the poll of 688 voters was a “valid response.” The survey is not a prediction, however, of the voting results, Davies said. In fact, the positions changed from one week to the other.
As an example, those polled during the first week placed Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen in second place and former police commissioner Novelle Francis Jr. in seventh place in the Senate race. According to Frank Mills, interim provost for Research and Public Service, the second week’s survey (after Hansen was removed from the ballot by the V.I. Supreme Court) dropped her to seventh place and moved Francis up to third.
The top seven for the Legislature from St. Croix were Kurt Vialet, Sen. Terrence “Positive” Nelson, Francis, Sen. Kenneth Gittens, Sen. Nereida “Nellie” Rivera-O’Reilly, Sen. Sammuel Sanes and Hansen. Neville James was in eighth place and Malcolm McGregor came in ninth in the survey.
In the St. Thomas/St. John district the top seven vote getters were Marvin Blyden, Jean Forde, Sen. Janette Millin Young, Sen. Clifford Graham, Sen. Myron Jackson, Sen. Tregenza Roach and former senator Donald Cole.
The senator-at-large poll put Armando “Rocky” Liburd ahead with 47 percent of the vote against Ronnie Jone’s 16 percent.
According to the poll, Stacy Plaskett would win the delegate to Congress seat with more than 60 percent of the vote. Vince Danet garnered 7 percent of the voters.
In the survey, Donna Christensen/Basil Ottley received 23 percent and Kenneth Mapp/Osbert Potter took 28 percent in the gubernatorial race, forcing a run-off election. The other three candidates each received less that 6 percent of the vote.
“This sample is not a prediction,” Mills said. “It is too close to call” given the margin of error and the 29 percent of undecided voters.
Degames said the scientific poll, with a 95 percent “confidence level,” was conducted in conjunction with the university’s Institution for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness.
She discussed demographics of the polled voters and said half resided on St. Croix and the other half lived in the St. Thomas/St. John district. Almost half said they were Democrats and 33 percent territorywide said they had no party affiliation. Three percent said they would vote Republican and 4 percent considered themselves supporters of the Independent Citizens Movement.
The most important issue in the election is the economy, according to 43 percent of those taking the survey. Next in order were health care, education, crime, infrastructure and retirement security.
The survey also asked if people would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports legalizing marijuana, prostitution, same sex marriage and corporal punishment in schools. Forty-six percent said it would make no difference if a candidate supported marijuana legislation but 70 percent said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who supported legalizing prostitution.
Voters were more opinionated about same sex marriage. More than 50 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports same sex marriage. More males than females and more black voters would not vote for such a candidate, Degames reported.
The telephone poll was conducted over two weeks, ending Sunday. A total of 688 persons were questioned by 15 callers who had been trained not to display bias and whose calls were monitored by supervisors, according to Degames.
Those questioned said they were older than 18 and “probably” would vote. Otherwise, they were not identified.
The phone numbers were supplied by a national firm and the number selected (688) produced a 3.7 margin of error. In a typical national survey, the usual margin of error is four or five. About 1,062 people would be polled for a population of 319 million Americans.
According to Mils, the five points between gubernatorial candidates would be too close to call. And since 29 percent of those questioned hadn’t decided who to vote for, the “undecided” would determine the ultimate outcome, Mills said..
The U.S. Virgin Islands Election Poll can be found here.
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