With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting Argentina as hard as the rest of the continent despite what looked like a promising start, and with the economy continuing to show signs of deterioration, Alberto Fernández’s initially high approval ratings are taking a hit nationwide. But he is holding on well in the district that is most crucial for the 2021 mid-term elections.
According to CB consultora, a public opinion consultancy based on Córdoba province, views on Fernández are moving down in 21 out of the country’s 24 districts. And the president is polling the worst in some of the most important ones: Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires City, Córdoba, Santa Fe, Mendoza and Entre Ríos, all highly-populated provinces with significant economic output.
But the slide is not across the board: he still polls well in the north, and is crucially improving in what is by far the most populated and sometimes feared district: Buenos Aires Province. The decision to solve the conflict with the provincial police by taking resources from BA City and re-allocating them to the province has not been the first time Fernández opted to help the country’s biggest province financially in times of need, and the Peronist base seems to be grateful for keeping them as a priority.
Mid-term elections in Argentina are often exclusively evaluated by who wins the country’s biggest district. Kirchnerism was perceived as a nationwide loser in 2009 and 2013 due to its defeats there, while Cristina Kirchner’s win over Hilda de Duhalde in 2005 consolidated the Kirchner family leadership of Peronism in the province for the next fifteen years (and counting).
The survey also had some other interesting data points, including the consolidation of Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta at the top of popularity rankings for regional leaders. Larreta is hoping that the nationwide exposure that the fight against COVID-19 gave him, plus his recent clash with Fernández over tax distribution, could be a launching pad for a career as opposition leader for the 2023 presidential race.