Since 1996, I have written over 1,200 columns and letters to the editor for various Guam publications. About 1,000 have been in The Guam Daily Post or its predecessor, the Marianas Variety. I use these columns in my classes and I also use them to share local research with the community.
The people of Guam love to talk about politics and these columns and research create a good connection with the public. Starting around June, I began to discuss the Guam elections and I will take some time today to go over my election cycle comments.
In my June 18 column, I said that I thought five senators would rotate out of the Guam Legislature. I also said that at least three or more former senators would likely return. I was wrong on the guess that the female majority may shift back to a male majority. I also thought the Democrats would likely retain the majority. I mentioned that 2020 would feel like a stealth election. All of the traditional election-related activities were absent, but talk radio appeared to be normal. I said these things over four months before the election.
On June 25, I said again I thought five senators would not return. Ultimately, four did not return. On Aug. 6, I said that about 18 candidates were battling strongly for the fifteen open seats. By the weekend before the election, this number was down to 17 with John Ananich as the leading new candidate.
On Sept. 3, I said all else equal, a runoff off between Robert Underwood and Michael San Nicolas would be needed. I also said there was potential for the Republicans to compete if they could hang together. Usually, Republicans have 38%-42% in single-candidate general elections. In 2020, there was a major Republican crossover at the general election supporting San Nicolas. The Republican Party obviously has two strong factions and this will play out in the runoff. I further stated in this column that the four returning senators would do well.
On Sept. 24, I shared the kinds of questions I use to guide election research and thought. On Oct. 22, I continued to wonder if the Republicans would cross over, which they did. The current question is, will the other Republican faction go to former Del. Underwood or not?.
On Oct. 29, I speculated that the Legislature would not be affected very much by the pandemic. I also restated at least 10 of the 12 senators would be reelected. I didn’t think the pandemic will affect Gov. Leon Guerrero in the 2022 race. In related media interviews, I said that Underwood could get up to 54% in a runoff. The 54% split was obvious at the general election. But it will take a lot of work to get elected in the runoff.
Polling is not a crystal ball and I use a lot of other research methods to form a lot of my opinions. Politics is an art, not science.
Ron McNinch teaches at the University of Guam School of Business and Public Administration