BP, yesterday I read the comments made by Mr Ingraham and Mr Christie about their intentions to win the Bamboo Town constituency. On the surface, it would seem that that would be a tall order for either main party considering Branville’s popularity within his own constituency, but Bahamian elections can sometime act like a wave, where the mood of the electorate is feed up with one group and it votes for another en mass.
Under these circumstances, even the most popular of incumbents can get caught up in the mood swing of the electorate and loose their attempt at reelection. So even the popularity or, sad to say, the effectiveness of an incumbent does not always guarantee reelection when the mood of the people switches. In recent history, Tommy Turnquest, Dion Folkes, Zhivargo Laing and Carl Bethel are all popular, well know quantities who had gotten caught up in this wave type phenomenon and lost their seat in 2002.
So when Mr Ingraham and Christie say they think they will win the Bamboo Town constituency, it can not be ignored as the signs are pointing to another wave type phenomenon among the electorate; and if so, Branville, as an independent, has to figure out what mood the people of Bamboo Town are in and make decisions accordingly.
We have heard the speculation that Branville will form his own party. I don’t think he is going to do that because he doesn’t have the time, man power or financial resources to vet candidates, put together a platform or put the necessary campaign machinery in place with looming elections.
Secondly, who would his new party’s base be? We know it wont be FNM’s in any great number and Branville will be naive to think that his new party will peal many PLP’s away as the PLP base is unified, energized and sees the very high possibility of its own party retaining the government. So that only leaves independents and as I have said previously on your blog, many are overstating the size of this voting block and overestimating the independent streak in Bahamian politics. If Branville has bought into this false perception about the Bahamian independent voter, then its a mistake on his part as this block isn’t large enough to be a foundation for any party at this time in Bahamian politics.
Seems like every election there is some new 3rd party that is all the rage and on cue every election night, their hopes are slaughtered. The independent voters are not sizable enough to have an impact on Bahamian elections so i hope Branville dismisses and do not by into the notion that 70-80% of the Bahamian electorate is PLP and FNM and the other 20-30% are independent voters. I dare anyone point to me some numerical data to support this perception that is touted as truth.
If 20-30% of the Bahamian electorate are truly independent voters, then base on the 2007 number of registered voters only, your talking about a 30-45,000 independent voting block. Impressive to say the lease, but in that election, out of 137,667 votes cast, only 4,395 votes (3%) was cast for 3rd party and independent candidates. And if you take out the “independent” votes Tennyson Wells and Whitney Bastian got (2,132), as they are not true independents, your left with a meager 2,263 (1%) votes cast for independents in 2007.
In 2002 there were 9,501 votes cast for independent candidates out of 130,536 total votes cast. Independent votes accounted for 7% of the votes cast. But when you look inside those numbers you see that in that election cycle, of the 14 independent candidates, 3 of them were from the FNM (Larry Cartwright, Pierre Depuch, Tennyson Wells) and one from the PLP (Whitney Bastian). Combined they received 5,571 of the 9,501 (59%) “independent” votes cast.
Simply put the independent voting block is almost non existent. If 30,000 independent voters are out there, I and all the other 3rd parties would like to know where they are. The idea that this large group exists, and will be key in bringing victory is based on pure conjecture with no evidence to support that claim.
The CDR, Workers Party, BDM, BFA died an embarrassing death on election night as reality set in. And now the new girl in town, the NDP, is drunk on the idea that independent voters are going to flock to them in droves? We have seen this play out to many times and I hope Branville doesnt make the same mistake and buy into the same nonsense.
I think Branville’s best option is to remain an independent for now because his number one goal above all else is to retain his seat. He cant concentrate on Bamboo Town if he has to devote his attention to forming a party. And now with the ire of Mr Ingraham added to the mix, there is no doubt in my mind that Mr Ingraham is going to do a number on the boundaries for Bamboo Town. So Branville needs to have all his attention in one spot as losing his seat is not an option.
So if he is going to run as an independent, Branville has 3 options:
option 1: Run as a stand alone independent
option 2: Run as an independent with an agreement with one of the third parties
option 3: Run as an independent with an agreement with the PLP.
The answer is pretty straight forward and something some may not want to hear. But first, look at the numbers from Branville’s 2007 election victory:
Bamboo Town: 4,088 registered voters.
3,614 votes were cast (88% turnout)
Vote break down: Branville McCartney (FNM), 1,957 votes, 54.1%
Tennyson Wells (Independent), 1,554 votes, 42.9%
Omar Smith (BDM) 86 votes, 2.8%
Prince Albert Strachan (IND), 19 votes, .5%
When you look at those numbers from the 2007 elections, the first time candidate’s margin of victory (403 votes) was just enough to ward of election court, lol. The PLP didnt contest the seat as they silently supported Tennyson. Fast forward 4 years later and Branville support probably has grown but if the PLP and FNM contest the seat as their leaders claim, then the race for votes is on.
If Branville runs as a stand alone independent, the key for him would be his ability to form a coalition of voters comprised of PLP’s, FNM,s and first time voters. In my opinion, this is a difficult road to travel because the chances of him peeling off enough FNM and PLP votes to get a victory is difficult considering the political climate and actions he took. But Whitney Bastian did it in 2002 and won in a three way race by 104 votes and what is often forgotten is the fact that the FNM candidate almost pulled the upset as the votes were split 3 ways. This is what the PLP hopes happens in Bamboo Town for their candidate, albeit, with a win.
If Branville ran as an independent with support from one of the third parties, this too is a long shot because he will face similar issues to that of running as a stand alone candidate. The only thing he would get out of going this route would be the message he is sending about both major parties. I dont think he takes this route.
If Branville ran as an independent with silent or public support from the PLP, expressed by the PLP not running a candidate, then his chances of winning goes up dramatically because his chances are better if one of the two major parties DO NOT RUN A CANDIDATE! This is how Tennyson, Pierre and to an extent Larry Cartwright won in 2002. The PLP didnt run candidates in those constituencies and their opponants were weak candidates. In that same year, the PLP and FNM ran a candidate against Whitney Bastian and Whitney won as stated eralier by 104 votes! When the next election cycle came around, both Tennyson and Whitney lost as they were opposed by better candidates.
So Branville’s best option for retaining his seat as an independent is to seek an arraignment with the PLP. He may not want to do it, but if he runs as a stand alone candidate, and Mr Ingraham and Christie puts formidable candidates against him, his chances of retaining his seat decreases.
If Branville losses his seat, that would be a major, major setback for him. He cant let that happen, so he should hold his nose and persuade the PLP to not run a candidate against him. I just hope he doesnt by into his own press, thinking that he is so popular that he cant loose.