With nearly 56,000 voters registered to vote today, candidates made final pitches during the eve of the general election amid the release of survey results on who might be ahead.

The Guam Chamber of Commerce released a straw poll of its members Monday afternoon which suggests the possibility of a gubernatorial run-off election following today’s general election.

The poll indicates none of the three gubernatorial candidates will gain 50 percent of the votes plus one. That's the threshold needed for an outright victory.

According to the poll, Democrat candidate Lou Leon Guerrero continues to lead in the race for governor, with 43 percent; write-in candidate Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. follows with 32 percent; and Republican candidate and Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio trails with just 20 percent.

In a statement the Chamber emphasized that it was "a non-scientific straw poll of the membership" conducted between October 31 and November 2.

"The results indicate the preferences of members that responded to the poll and does not at all represent an endorsement of the Guam Chamber of Commerce," according to the statement. "The Guam Chamber has not and does not endorse political candidates."

Not everyone sees it the way chamber members do.

Ron McNinch, associate professor of public administration at the University of Guam, concedes a run-off is likely but believes it will be between Leon Guerrero and Tenorio.

He said, “There’s no telling where the opinions are right now.”

McNinch believes the Aguon-Limtiaco team may get as high as 15 percent of the votes, enough to force a write-off, but not enough to be a part of the run-off for the two top teams.

The ‘curse of the front-runner’

McNinch’s students also conducted a poll last month showing Leon Guerrero in the lead with 58 percent, followed by Tenorio, with 32 percent.

However, he believes the gap between the Democratic and Republican primary winners has narrowed substantially, citing what he calls “the curse of the front runner.”

“When a candidate is running really, really high in the polls,” said McNinch, “they stop working as hard.” 

Both Leon Guerrero and Tenorio have hurt themselves, said McNinch. Ray Tenorio’s bid was badly damaged by the gun-grabbing incident at a Tumon block party in July, although McNinch said the lieutenant governor has managed to make up some lost ground.

More recently, McNinch said Leon Guerrero suffered a self-inflicted wound at a recent campaign rally when she said “this is my island ... I was born and raised here, Ray, and I am more qualified to be the governor of Guam."

"Sixty percent of the voters who aren’t originally from Guam heard that,” said McNinch, “so that hurt her big time.”

The other races

In the other races, the Chamber poll puts Doris Flores-Brooks ahead in the congressional delegate race with 58 percent while her rival Sen. Michael San Nicolas had 38 percent.

Leevin Camacho is projected to win the race for attorney general with an overwhelming 70 percent of the vote, followed by Doug Moylan with 25 percent, the Chamber survey results show.

The poll projects that women, for the first time, will make up a majority in the Legislature.

The top five senatorial finishers could be James Moylan, Sen. Mary Torres, both Republicans, followed by three Democrats – Sen. Regine Biscoe-Lee, Sen. Therese Terlaje and Clynt Ridgell.