Sanctus – Former Ambassador to the World Assembly, Dr. Katherine Saunders, is currently leading Councillor Ethan Ringrose by a razor-thin 3 points in the latest Sanctarian National Times poll, this paper can reveal. Saunders, who had been trailing Ringrose until this point, gained a significant number of Don’t Knows since the last poll, with many citing her excellent performance in the television presidential candidate debate last Tuesday evening.
Saunders, who is running for the Sanctarian Conservative Party, had been criticised for being out of touch with the ordinary voter, having spent much of her adult life working outside of Sanctaria as a diplomat. But her years in the World Assembly came to her aid on Tuesday evening when her honed debate skills caught Ringrose out a number of times. Ringrose, representing the Democratic Left, was often left stumbling over some words, or rifling through his papers when responding to quick-witted ripostes by experienced diplomat.
The poll, conducted by this paper between Wednesday 6th and Friday 8th of April, with a sample size of 20,000 people, now shows Saunders at 48, and Ringrose at 45, with Don’t Knows at 7%. With DKs removed, Saunders is at 52% and Ringrose at 49% – but with a margin of error of 4%, it’s still very much anyone’s game.
Ringrose has been attempting to position himself as the candidate most in-tune with domestic Sanctarians, and has tried to paint Saunders as an out of touch diplomat, who was rarely in her homeland. But Saunders cleverly maneuvered talking points on cost of living and community to a national focus, highlighting Ringrose as being too Sanctus-centric and suggesting a city councillor doesn’t know enough about national needs as someone who had to “have [her] finger on the button when representing the entire of Sanctaria abroad in a place that writes laws for Sanctaria”. Saunders also highlighted the fact that as Head of State, the President often had to represent Sanctaria, and speak for the Divine Federation, while abroad, something she of the two candidate uniquely has experience of.
Adding to Ringrose’s problems, during the week the Christian Union Party and the New Sanctaria Party, neither of whom are standing a candidate, both advised their members to vote for Saunders on the April 23rd vote. Though the parties have been declining nationally, they do retain significant strongholds of voters in states like Novum Aeternum and Terra Monticularum, and their voters do tend to turn out. The Green Party on the other hand, who is also not standing a candidate saying their focus is on the general election rumoured to be later this year, did endorse Ringrose, but it’s unlikely Ringrose will inspire Green voters to get out the vote and lend him their preference.
It remains a neck-and-neck fight, with pundits now saying it’s too difficult to forecast a winner, but that the momentum that Ringrose had the last number of weeks now seems diminished. One political party insider said that if Saunders picks up momentum after her significant debate performance, then it may be too difficult for Ringrose to overcome – but not to rule him out just yet.
JOEY SESSIONS, Political Editor