It’s one of the safest PLP seats in parliament.
Most pundits, other than committed partisans, believe the race to replace Dr. Ewart Brown in Warwick South Central is Marc Bean’s to lose.
But those factors don’t stop this from being a significant poll — especially for the two opposition parties.
For the Bermuda Democratic Alliance it is their first electoral test — an opportunity to see if the progress the party has made in its first year translates to support at the ballot box.
For the United Bermuda Party it will be a barometer of how badly the impact of a third party is going to affect them.
For the country it could serve as an indicator of how the three-party dynamic is likely to effect the next election.
Conventional wisdom has it that the BDA will take its support largely from disillusioned followers of the UBP — potentially increasing the margin of victory for the PLP — even if its support declines.
The Alliance is counting on that not being the case.
Michael Fahy, secretary of the party, said: “So many people say we are going to split the opposition vote. I disagree. We can take votes from both parties.
“This election will demonstrate that the BDA is a serious entity. We hope to really put the PLP to the test.”
Sylvan Richards, the BDA’s candidate in this election, is a former PLP member. He even acted as an election agent when Dr. Brown last held this seat in 2007, says Mr. Fahy — a demonstration of the party’s crossover appeal.
But political commentator and blogger Christian Dunleavey feels the party has not done enough to distinguish itself from the UBP.
He believes this is all about the fight for second place.
“For the BDA they will surely see it as critical to beat the UBP for second and use that as a launching pad for credibility, recruitment and momentum.”
If they don’t get much support, says Mr. Dunleavy, it will be time to reassess their viability as an electoral force.
Similarly, he says, the UBP needs to at least come second here to demonstrate that it’s stature and support has not completely disintegrated.
“If the UBP does not manage to be the runner-up, it will be yet another confirmation of their slow demise and their support will continue to erode.”
United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan disagrees his party is in such bad shape.
But he concurs that the by-election will be an “indicator” of how the emergence of a third party effects the political landscape.
“It presents a new dynamic. But you can’t pre-judge what people will do. Having a third entity makes it more competitive, I think more exciting.
“It will be an indicator in that respect, but each election and each constituency is different. There’s no rule of thumb – you have to get into the constituency and relate to the people.”
The UBP has taken a gamble on an inexperienced and unconventional but charismatic candidate in Devrae Noel-Simmons.
Mr. Swan said he had faith that the 42-year-old former bodybuilder could pull it off: “Dr. Ewart Brown represented this constituency for 17 years but before that it was held by Quinton Edness and Jack Sharp (former UBP cabinet minister and leader respectively).Over the years it has gone back and forth. There has been diverse representation in this constituency.”
Even if, as expected, the PLP hold this seat, there could be potential signs of things to come in the margin of victory.
If voters stay at home or move away from the party in numbers, a victory may begin to look more like a defeat.
Mr. Dunleavey added: “As one of the PLP’s safer seats they will need to produce a strong result.
“Turnout will presumably be low as most bye-elections are, however if it is unusually low that would presumably signal a message being sent of overall disenchantment with the PLP Government.