A long long time ago, when Malaysia was hunky-dory, it was not too difficult to predict election results.
It was really quite simple to do that although sometimes there were near-misses, full-blown misses, dark horses, and surprises.
For instance, you'd be right to predict that a city constituency with a Chinese majority would go to the opposition, usually the DAP. Or the rural Malays in Umno stronghold areas would vote for BN no matter who the candidate was (Indian or Chinese). And that was the same in an Indian-majority constituency where the BN would win.
Over time, however, it was no longer so simple although voters seemed to still be holding on to the principle of "vote for the party, not the candidate".
In 1999, that seemed to be the case where the opposition, riding on the anti-establishment wave and the Anwar Ibrahim factor, did very well.
Angered by the turn of events resulting from Anwar's sacking, many turned their backs on the BN and voted for the opposition, no matter who the candidates were.
Although the BN maintained its majority in Parliament, it did very badly.
Terengganu was lost to Pas.
In the last general election in 2004, I believe the "vote for party" mentality still figured strong. Buoyed by a renewed sense of hope, people gave their support to the BN which was returned with a thumping victory. And recaptured Terengganu, to boot!
The situation this time maybe different.
This March 8 general election, the country's 12th -- I reckon most people will be making serious consideration about and assessment of the candidates standing in their constituencies.
The "dacing" may no longer be that appealing for the BN diehard. Nor the "rocket' for the DAP faithful.
This time -- voters will not only be looking at the party.
This time, it's the candidate they'll be scrutinising.