Nine seats too hard to predict a winner - study
University lecturer Dr Herbert Gayle has included six seats won by the People’s National Party (PNP) in the 2011 general election among nine constituencies where he was unable to project a winner.
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The seats include those won by Andre Hylton, Hugh Buchanan, Keith Walford and Paul Buchanan, who are all trying to return to the House of Representatives among the nine that his team was unable to project during a recent study.
The Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Rudyard Spencer, James Robertson and Everald Warmington, who are all seeking to return to the House, also hold seats which it appears could go either way.
In a study dubbed, ‘Why Jamaicans vote: Implications for who wins the 2016 general election’, Gayle found that barring a major social shift, the PNP should safely win 36 seats and the JLP 18, with the other nine up for grabs.
According to Gayle, the stringent sampling did not allow his team to predict a result in those nine constituencies.
Not surprising to most political watchers, the marginal nine include Eastern St Andrew where Hylton is trying to defend a 254-vote margin.
He is facing a newcomer to representational politics, Fayval Williams, but early indications are that it will be a battle to retain his seat.
It is a similar story for Paul Buchanan, who won the West Rural St Andrew seat by 237 in 2011.
Buchanan also faces a newcomer in the JLP’s Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn.
South West St Elizabeth was won by 13 votes in 2011 as Hugh Buchanan defeated the JLP’s Dr Christopher Tufton. Since then, infighting by the Comrades in the constituency plus a vibrant JLP first-timer, Floyd Green, makes this a seat to watch.
The other constituencies held by the PNP which the Gayle study failed to project are South West St Ann, where Keith Walford will try to keep his seat in the face of a challenge from Zavia Mayne and Eastern Hanover, where two first-timers – Wynter McIntosh (PNP) and Dave Hume Brown (JLP) – will square off.
CENTRAL ST JAMES BATTLE
While Lloyd B. Smith is not going back to contest the Central St James seat which he won by 98 votes last time, an interesting battle is expected between the PNP’s Ashley-Ann Foster and the JLP’s Heroy Clarke.
On the JLP benches, Spencer won the South East Clarendon seat with 107 votes in 2011 so there is no surprise that Gayle and his team found it impossible to predict the outcome when he faces off with the PNP’s Patricia Duncan-Sutherland.
In Western St Thomas, most political watchers expect Robertson, who won with a 317 vote majority in 2011 to be returned, but with Marsha Francis working hard in the constituency, Gayle failed to offer a prediction.
South West St Catherine was defended by Warmington in 2011 and he got home by 916 votes, but despite that win, Gayle was unable to predict if he will be able to survive the challenge of the PNP’s Rudyard Mears.
The Gayle study was conducted between November 15, 2015 and January 10 this year.
It is a single snapshot of the 63 constituencies across the island and utilises integrated methodology as the main approach, with the assistance of qualitative and historical material.