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  • By Ron McNinch

The loud drunk Nino effect

The race for governor of Guam 2018 is a strong two stage game. The first stage will be the rough and tumble primary in late August. The second stage will be the dead heat up to the finish in early November.

This will be a very interesting race to watch. In 1998, there was a similar scenario in the race for the governor of Guam. In that election, a former governor stood alone in the primary and three Democratic teams, consisting of the incumbent governor and two other teams led by senators. They fought it out in the first stage.

While it wasn’t discussed much at the time, the Republican candidate, barely squeaked by the 4 percent threshold with just about 5 percent of the primary vote. If a few hundred more voters had voted Democrat, the Republicans could have ended up with no candidate on the ballot.

About 95 percent of the voters packed the democrat primary and this sapped a lot of energy away from the Republicans in the primary stage. In the general election, the Democrat led the Republican by about 8 points, yet the election was tangled up in litigation that we all the way to US Supreme Court.

In the 2005 CNMI race for governor, only about 200 votes separated the top three candidates and there was no litigation! Given the 1998 race dynamics, the Republicans should have learned a lesson or two. First, stay out of the Democrat race and use the primary to supercharge the party for the general election. Second, if Republicans do cross over in large numbers, this may cause sour grapes among the Democrats and thus Democrat losing supporters may not want to support a Republican candidate in the general election.

As of this writing in July 2018, some Democrats are wasting their energy on the lone Republican candidate. The race is two stages and this does nothing to help the Democrats.

They should work on contrasting and distinguishing themselves among the Democrat candidates, not between the Republican.

In polling earlier this year, the four Democrats were at 30-30-20-20, or there are two nests separated by 10 points.

Notice, throughout this article, I am not naming who is where because it doesn’t matter. The two teams running in the 28-32 range and the two candidates teams in the 18-22 range could all resort in the last three days leading up to the primary election.

The 2018 primary election will be held on Aug. 25, and there is a government payday on Aug. 24. The primary election will be won or lost between Aug. 22 and the end of day on Aug. 25. In fact, this race might be even be deciding in the three-hour cycles of the election day itself.

So, the Republican candidate will face off with a Democrat candidate on Nov. 6. Because of Halloween and government holiday on Nov. 2 and a payday, there will be a nearly weeklong party cycle leading up to this election. Adults will go to Halloween parties and family gatherings in this week. Many will imbibe and let their true feelings be known.

This is a perfect storm of political influence and people can and do change their minds. This is one of the underestimated areas I playfully call, “The Loud Drunk Nino Effect.” These informal social sessions are one of the most important aspects of small island politics. The CNMI has the same dynamics, but the level of intensity is higher. Also, the willingness to move on is higher also. On Guam, we don’t seem to move on very well.


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