KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — In a slap to the once impregnable Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition which had been the ruling administration since independence prior to their defeat in the 14th general elections, Merdeka Center for Opinion Research's latest projections puts the Umno-led coalition at just 15 seats it could safely secure in tomorrow's 15th general election.
The research outfit saw Perikatan Nasional coming in second at 43 seats, half of Pakatan Harapan's projected outcome at 82 seats.
In East Malaysia, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition could bag 24 seats, while Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) would win just five seats or one less than Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal's Parti Warisan.
The pollster had put 26 seats as too close to call.
"We note that the tight contest in this election has meant that the competition in many seats will be very close among the competing parties.
"In the ensuing campaign period, we noted that there was a discernible movement of Malay voters to PN and to a lesser extent, PH. This development was at the expense of BN," it said, noting that seats considered too-close-to-call were those with vote margins of less than five per cent.
In a breakdown, it projected that BN could only manage to safely secure one seat in Kelantan and Negri Sembilan; three in Pahang, six in Johor and four in Sabah.
Accordingly, the research outfit said the overall projections also affirmed non-Malay voters' support of PH.
A poll was also conducted with 5,497 respondents sampled nationwide to seek their views on the upcoming election, leaders and political parties between November 3 to November 18.
It noted that respondents were selected based on random stratified sampling along age group, ethnicity, gender and state.
In the poll findings, voters’ principal concerns remained focused on inflation and cost of living at 28 per cent, economic growth at 18 per cent and corruption at 13 per cent.
Following the implementation of the automatic voter registration and Undi18, the findings also revealed younger voters displaying a higher-than-average concern about the economy and employment issues at five per cent compared to the two per cent of the national average.
With all major coalitions having announced their prime minister candidate, the poll also found that voters’ preferences remained generally stable with PH chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at 33 per cent of all voters, followed by PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin at 26 per cent and BN chairman Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri at 17 per cent.
However, the finding also noted there was a significant difference across ethnic groups, with Muhyiddin coming out top at 39 per cent followed by Ismail Sabri at 24 per cent and Anwar at 16 per cent among Malay voters.
More significantly, Anwar was the preferred PM candidate amongst non-Malay voters, with 57.8 per cent and 62.6 per cent among Chinese and Indians respectively.
"These findings show a marked decline in overt preference for BN among Malay voters and an increase in support for PN while PH continues to draw strong support from Chinese and Indian voters as well as a stable level of Malay voters," the centre said.