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By Steve Limtiaco

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Aug. 30) - Of 908 Guam residents surveyed who said they intend to vote in Saturday's primary election, 31 percent said they haven't decided in which party primary they intend to vote, according to a new election survey commissioned by the Pacific Daily News.

But those undecided voters are unlikely to change the outcome of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, according to the survey results, which show that 60 percent of those voting in the Democratic primary support former Delegate Robert Underwood and 29 percent support former Gov. Carl Gutierrez.

According to the survey results, Gutierrez and running mate Senator Benjamin Cruz would need the support of all undecided voters in the election to make it a close race with Underwood and running mate Senator Frank Aguon Jr.

However, undecided voters could have a significant impact in the Republican gubernatorial primary, where Governor Felix Camacho has the support of 57 percent of voters in that primary, and Lieutenant Governor Kaleo Moylan has the support of 30 percent.

Moylan needs the support of about a third of undecided voters to be competitive with Camacho, according to the survey.

The survey was commissioned by the Pacific Daily News in cooperation with Market Research & Development and Sorensen Pacific Broadcasting.

Gutierrez's campaign chairman, Vince Arriola, issued a written response last night, saying: "This latest PDN-Jay Merrill poll is outrageous, questionable and lacks credibility."

"It is inconsistent with the other polls showing a close race," Arriola said. "This latest poll is an obvious and underhanded attempt to manipulate the election to defeat Carl Gutierrez and B.J. Cruz. On Saturday, the voters will give Gutierrez-Cruz a solid victory."

In a later phone interview, Arriola said the voter poll released by the PDN earlier this month and a poll done by University of Guam associate professor Ron McNinch in July showed a tighter Democratic gubernatorial race.

In July, the Pacific Daily News reported that UOG students asked 250 residents for whom would they vote in the gubernatorial race, In that survey, Gutierrez received 30 percent support from respondents, Underwood received 24 percent, Camacho received 23 percent and Moylan received 8 percent. McNinch said the poll had a margin of error of 6 percent.

McNinch, at the time, also said that such polls done so early are not as accurate as polls conducted closer to the election date, but he said they are useful for identifying trends.

In the PDN's poll earlier this month of 401 registered voters who said they would vote in the Primary Election, Underwood and Gutierrez were statistically even among those who said they are Democrats -- 34 percent for Underwood and 33 percent for Gutierrez. The margin of error for the PDN's earlier poll was plus or minus 4.5 percent.

When asked last night if the Gutierrez-Cruz team considered there might have been a change in voter sentiments since the release of the earlier polls, Arriola said: "Not that extreme."

"I don't think they will be swayed by polls," Arriola added.

Market Research & Development President Jay Merrill said compared to a survey released earlier this month, the new survey provides better information about which candidates are favored in the Democratic and Republican primaries.

That's because participants first were asked to state which primary they intend to vote in, he said, giving a more accurate picture of the mood of voters in the two primaries. That's why there is such a large margin between candidates, compared to the earlier poll, which did not ask people which primary they intended to vote in, according to Merrill.

Merrill said about 4,000 Guam residents were called between Aug. 24 and Aug. 28 for the survey, yielding responses from 938 eligible voters. Thirty of those people said they will not or might not vote in the primary election, and the survey results are based on the answers given by the remaining 908.

The overall poll has a margin of error of 3.3 percent, but the margins of error for the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries are higher -- 5 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively -- because of the smaller group sizes, according to Market Research.

Moylan yesterday said he is encouraged by the survey results and the large undecided vote. He noted that in addition to the 31 percent of voters who said they are unsure which primary they would vote in, 10 percent of voters in the Republican primary also are undecided, as are 8 percent of voters in the Democratic primary.

The large number of undecided voters is an indication they do not support the incumbent governor and are considering the other three camps, Moylan said.

"The total undecided is quite large. We've monitored it, because we're doing a daily rolling poll. We know that anywhere between 37 to 54 percent are undecided ... I think what it means overall is that there's a tremendous opportunity to move the numbers in the last remaining days," Moylan said.

"This is the highest undecided voter polling that I've ever seen. It shows there's a lot of people who may be voting out of fear, and not voting for the candidates they want to win an election...," he said. "We want people to stay home in the primary. Don't jump on the Democrat side and play the game and vote out of fear, but stay on the Republican side and vote the Moylan/Santos team, that is the most qualified team out there."

Camacho does not want supporters to take anything for granted, said Camacho campaign spokesman John Dela Rosa.

"The governor and Dr. (Mike) Cruz are encouraged by the results, and it shows that the people of Guam are pleased with the progress made over the last four years and are looking to continue the progress that the governor's administration has made," he said.

"But we are not taking anything for granted. The campaign will continue to work hard, and we ask our supporters to come out and vote for Camacho/Cruz," Camacho said. "Every vote is critical, and we ask them to stay on the Republican side of the ballot."

Underwood yesterday said he is gratified by the survey results, but said the only results that matter are during the primary election.

"I think it's an indicator that our campaign has worked hard and people have been responsive to our message of change," Underwood said. "That 'change train' is just getting stronger and stronger and stronger. As always, the only poll that really matters is the one that's held on Saturday, so I urge everyone, all supporters of all teams, to go out and vote, and make sure they mark the ballot in a way that they don't mess it up, that they don't cross over."

August 31, 2006

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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