The mid term elections, which decide who gets to fill half the Congress’s deputy positions and senate seats are still ten months away, but to many politicians it’s crunch time. Not only because a good result means more influence within Congress and therefore national politics, but also because it is thought to be a very accurate indicator of how society feels about political parties at that given moment — allowing politicians and political scientists to draw conclusions two years before the general elections.
Keeping that in mind one of the latest polls conducted by consulting firm Management & Fit confirmed that, should the elections be held today, Cambiemos would come in third amongst voters within Buenos Aires Province — arguably the big prize of every midterm.
According to the poll, a ticket comprised of the newly-formed alliance between Deputy and leader of the Renewal Front (FR) Sergio Massa and Deputy Margarita Stolbizer would get 35 percent of the votes in the province that holds 40 percent of the country’s population.
The second place would go to a ticket formed by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and former Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli, who would scratch the 30 percent threshold. It’s not confirmed whether any of these two potential candidates will run for office, but apparently the option is quite attractive to those who still support the Victory Front (FpV). After all, Scioli — and consequently the party led by the former President — got more than 35 percent of the votes in 2015’s presidential elections and lost the runoff against Macri by less than two percentage points.
Neither Fernández nor Scioli have shown a firm intention of running, but the elections are still 10 months away. They have plenty of time to lift their political profile again and there is a large percentage of the province’s population eager to have them rejoin the political conversation.
Cambiemos appears in third place, far away from second. An hypothetical duo formed by Deputy Elisa “Lilita” Carrió and Vicente López District Mayor and presidential cousin Jorge Macri would only get 18 percent of the votes today. Quite a low percentage in an elections that will really contribute to shaping the political landscape for the last two years of the Macri’s first administration and its hope of getting a second term after 2019.
Besides the low voter confidence in the province, the poll provided another worrying piece of data for Cambiemos: Macri has a 39.1 percent approval rating with a 52.1 percent explicitly disapproving of how he’s doing in office. In contrast, Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal is still the Cambiemos official who has the best numbers. 56 percent of those polled approve of the work she and her administration do, while 34.4 percent report being unhappy with her as governor. As the cherry on top, she has a 70.5 percent positive image. Macri’s is 52.2 percent. That’s could explain why Vidal usually appears alongside Macri at public events. Maybe he will get some of her approval ratings by osmosis.
Another concern for the Macri camp is the fact that, except for Carrió, none of the other potential candidates from their party have a very high profile, most remain relatively unknown to the public. The better known political actor is Jorge Macri with 62.7 percent of participants in the study knowing who he is. He is followed by Education Minister Esteban Bullrich with 62.3 percent, although Macri has already confirmed he won’t run for office. Far less known are neurologist Facundo Manes — who joined Cambiemos not so long ago — with a 40.1 percent and Social Development Minister Carolina Stanley, whose name was only known by 34.1 percent of those polled.
These numbers would force Cambiemos to have Carrió in the ticket, something several pundits claim they don’t want to do because she’s not a member of the PRO. Thing is, a ticket comprised by Jorge Macri alongside City of Buenos Aires legislator Graciela Ocaña would barely get 14.3 percent of the votes.
The elections are 10 months away and Cambiemos wants to change these numbers. In order to do so, it has already announced it will “inundate” the country with public works initiatives that would have people vote for the party rather than the candidate.
Cambiemos will also surely ensure that their candidates campaign strongly with Vidal, for the same reason Macri’s doing it. In fact, it looks like Vidal intends to be the main face of Cambiemos’ campaign in the province, regardless of the candidates and the fact that she already has one of the biggest political positions in the country.