KUALA TERENGGANU: Towards the middle of the campaigning period for the state polls, word on the street was that Perikatan Nasional had already captured all but one state seat – Telemung.
It just needed to make that victory official via the Election Commission on Aug 12.
Sources within Perikatan said this is why their war-cry was 32-0.
Data culled from the results of the 15th General Election (GE15) last November showed that if they could maintain the same trends, the coalition would win big.
But in the recently concluded state polls, Perikatan had another ace that it played at every campaign stop and ceramah – votes from members of its archrival Barisan Nasional who were upset with the coalition’s cooperation with Pakatan Harapan in the Federal Government.
In GE15, Perikatan had swept up all eight of Terengganu’s parliamentary constituencies.
When Perikatan strategists broke down GE15 data and extrapolated how voters in each of the 32 constituencies would have voted had the state polls been held at the same time, the result was astonishing.
“We saw that in 31 seats, we would have won by majorities of between 5,000 and 10,000 if we had the state polls in November. We would have only lost Telemung by 500 votes,” said a local Perikatan official who studied the data.
“So even if the turnout for the state polls was lower, we thought we could at least win with a majority of 2,000 to 3,000 in each seat and work towards winning Telemung,” added the official, requesting anonymity.
When results came streaming in on Saturday night and Perikatan saw that it had taken Telemung, the coalition knew its confidence was not misplaced.
In fact, it outdid its initial projections of winning all 32 of Terengganu’s seats by majorities of between 2,000 and 17,000.
In GE14 in 2018, PAS, which is now in Perikatan, was defeated in Batu Rakit by about 299 votes. But on Saturday, it trounced Barisan by a majority of about 2,700 votes.
According to official data from the Election Commission, in Telemung, Perikatan flipped the Barisan stronghold by 295 votes. In GE14, PAS was defeated by 4,150 votes.
In Kijal and Seberang Takir, two seats long held by former mentris besar from Barisan, Perikatan managed to capture them by majorities of about 2,700 to 3,700 votes.
A closer look at the results reveals that Barisan’s support either declined or has stayed static since GE14.
The surge in support for Perikatan could be partially explained by the influx of new voters into every constituency due to automatic voter registration and the lowering of the voting age to 18.
Terengganu PAS election director Ariffin Deraman said that its internal surveys showed that support for Perikatan was high among first-time voters and those below the age of 25.
“This was the trend in GE15 and it was maintained in the state election,” the Alur Limbat assemblyman told The Star.
Another factor was that Perikatan did manage to get a large chunk of Barisan supporters to vote for its candidates, according to Terengganu-based political scientist Dr Yusri Ibrahim.
“Terengganu is one of the states where we detected a strong desire among many Barisan supporters of wanting to give their votes to Perikatan.
“This was manifested significantly in the state elections,” said Yusri, who is Ilham Centre’s head of research.