San Nicolas tops UOG poll for governor

Congressman Michael San Nicolas has a stunning lead in the latest scientific poll for governor from the University of Guam’s Dr. Ron McNinch. Mr. McNinch and his students for decades have been conducting gubernatorial and other polls as academic exercises.

These polls have tended to predict the outcome of gubernatorial elections, especially those polls taken as a snapshot of how voters will vote closer to the election itself.

The latest McNinch poll – a split between three weekdays (February 8 through 10) and the following weekend (February 12 and 13) – shows Mr. San Nicolas winning the democratic primary election by a landslide.

The weekday poll for governor split of 455 voters (the sample controlled for gender and age) shows 36 percent of voters choosing San Nicolas when asked, “Who do you think will be elected governor?” Poll respondents were not given choices.

Mr. San Nicolas has not confirmed he will run for governor, though he has expressed interest in the office. If he runs as a democrat, which he said he would in honor of his grandfather, the late Speaker Franklin Quitugua, he will challenge democrat Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero in the August 27, 2022, primary election.

The winner of that election will go on to challenge republican former Gov. Felix Camacho in the November general election, so long as no one else joins the republican field for governor.

Ms. Leon Guerrero received 27 percent of the vote in the weekday poll split. Thirty four percent of the respondents believe Camacho will be elected governor. And voters threw a wild card into the mix.

The Gutierrez effect

Carl Gutierrez

Thirteen percent of respondents voted for democrat former Gov. Carl Gutierrez. According to this poll, if he was running for governor on the days this poll was taken, he would have garnered a significant portion of votes in a democratic primary.

But it is what happens when Gutierrez is not part of the election, where the race is thrown. His 13 percent is more than enough to throw the election for Camacho, Leon Guerrero, or San Nicolas.

What happens if Gutierrez runs, or if San Nicolas doesn’t? What happens if San Nicolas and Gutierrez run together, or if Gutierrez throws his support behind his boss, Leon Guerrero? Time will tell, but one thing seems to be unchanged with Gutierrez: he remains a political juggernaut.

San Nicolas support grows on a weekend

The poll’s second split – the weekend poll – shows San Nicolas’s lead growing to 43 percent, with Leon Guerrero garnering 25 percent, Gutierrez with 14 percent, and Camacho with 25 percent.

San Nicolas’s weekend strength, according to Mr. McNinch, may be attributed to his social media presence. It also may be a further indicator of the race: the primary election falls on a Saturday.

While there was no head-to-head general election polling conducted in this poll, Mr. McNinch did measure voters’s top-two choices, when provided a list of four names.

Depending on when the poll was taken, voters want to see a matchup between San Nicolas and Camacho, or San Nicolas and Leon Guerrero. Fifteen percent of the weekday respondents, when given the names of the four potential candidates and asked, “If you could vote for two out of these four potential candidates, who do you want to see a race against?” chose a head to head race between San Nicolas and Camacho. Another 15 percent chose a match up between San Nicolas and Leon Guerrero. Eleven percent chose a matchup between San Nicolas and Gutierrez. Only 11 percent chose a matchup between the two announced candidates, Leon Guerrero and Camacho.

Ms. Leon Guerrero did much better in a weekend match up. That poll shows 35 percent of voters want to see a Leon Guerrero-San Nicolas matchup, while 22 percent want to see Camacho challenge San Nicolas.

Poll for governor taken prior to Camacho announcement

The McNinch poll was taken prior to Mr. Camacho’s announcement Monday that he is entering the race with his running mate, Sen. Vicente “Tony” Ada.

Mr. McNinch expects there to be a bump as his class’s rolling polls continue to the next sampling.

Economy, crime, education top poll concerns

What he does not expect will change is which issues are priorities in this election. According to the poll for governor, the economy and education are at the top of voters’s minds, followed by health care, then crime, then the pandemic.

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