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What 2019’s First Polls Reveal About the State of the Argentine Political Landscape

Most still predict that Macri and Kirchner will make it to the runoff.

By | [email protected] | January 30, 2019 2:45pm

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The first batch of electoral year surveys are fresh out of the oven, so let’s take a look at them, shall we?

The main takeaway from the four polls we will analyze is that the current and former Presidents, Mauricio Macri and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – even if the latter hasn’t yet announced if she will run – are those most likely to make it to the runoff. But even though Macri emerges victorious in most hypothetical scenarios, he does so by a rather slim margin, much smaller than before the economic and financial crisis that hit Argentina in April last year.

Other interesting aspects are the fact that a survey from Poliarquía gave people the chance to choose between Macri and Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal in a first round election, and more people chose Vidal (16 percent) than Macri (15 percent).

Another poll from Opinaia shows that former Finance Minister Roberto Lavagna, whose name is being floated by members of the non-Kirchnerite Peronism, could actually beat Macri in a runoff, while leader of the Frente Renovador Sergio Massa would tie.

Let’s take a look at each one of the polls.

Poliarquía

As mentioned above, the information that stands out from this survey is the fact that Macri would not beat Vidal in a primary. However, Vidal has assured time and time again that she will not take part in the presidential elections and will go for a second term in the province. Another question is whether Vidal will end up uncoupling the provincial elections from their national counterparts, but that is a completely different issue that we analyze in this article.

Governor Vidal

Predictably, former President Kirchner is much more dominant within her own party: out of the camp’s hypothetical 29 percent of the vote, she obtains 22 percent, versus the six percent of her last economy minister, Axel Kiciloff, and one percent of the leader of the Frente Para la Victoria’s Lower House caucus, Agustín Rossi.

The non-Kirchnerite Peronism, on its end, still lags behind. Its three primary (announced) candidates, Sergio Massa, Salta Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey, and head of the PJ’s caucus in the Upper House, Miguel Ángel Pichetto, totaled 19 percent of the vote, with 12, six, and one percent, respectively.

However, Poliarquía did not give the people surveyed the possibility to vote for Lavagna, who in other polls showed a stronger performance than his potential counterparts. His presence is likely to shake up the landscape, as we will see in just a moment.

Even though it is still far away from its other competitive opponents, the PJ might still find hope in another question included in the poll. When asked about the likelihood of voting for the three largest parties: “Would you surely vote for ‘x’ party,” “Would you maybe vote for ‘x’ party,” or “Would you surely not vote for ‘x’ party,” – the PJ achieved a better result than both Cambiemos and Kirchnerism.

While only 15 percent answered that they “would surely vote” for the PJ, 45 percent indicated they “would maybe vote for them.” The remaining 38 percent assured they would “surely not vote” for the PJ.

When asked about Cambiemos, however, 20 percent said they would surely vote for the party, 28 percent indicated they would maybe do so, while the remaining 51 percent assured they will never cast a ballot for Macri. With regard to Kirchnerism, 23 percent were convinced to vote for its candidates, 21 percent would maybe vote for them, and the remaining 54 percent said they would never vote for them. In other words, the PJ is the party with the most room to grow.

Poliarquía’s survey showed that overall, 34 percent approve of Macri’s administration, while 65 percent does not. A year ago, those numbers were 48 and 50 percent, respectively.

For that reason, when asked “if the elections were to be held today, would you vote for Cambiemos’ candidate, or an opposition candidate? 32 percent answered they would vote for a Cambiemos candidate, while 50 precent indicated they would go for an opposition member. Less than a year ago, the figures were quite different: 42 said they would vote for the government, and 47 for an alternative.

But in the same way this steep decline can largely be explained by the acute economic crisis Argentina has endured since April 2018, an eventual recovery could at the same time play to the government’s favor. And that is the scenario the government expects will materialize throughout the year.

Opinaia

According to this pollster, the government’s approval rating stands at a meager 28 percent. However, the discontent does not result – so far – in an immediate electoral defeat for Macri. When respondents were presented with the possibility of choosing any candidate, the President still tops the list, albeit along with his predecessor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The two get a total 28 percent of the vote, with Lavagna – presented as the winner of the PJ’s primary – coming in third, earning 16 percent.

Roberto Lavagna.

“Outsiders” Alfredo Olmedo, Frente de Izquierda’s Nicolás Del Caño, and orthodox economist José Luis Espert get four, three, and two percent of the vote, respectively. The percentage of undecided voters must not be overlooked: it stands at 19 percent.

In the eventual runoff, the President still beats his predecessor, although by a much more narrow margin than before: 43 versus 40 percent of the vote, with 17 percent of the electorate still undecided. If Kirchner were not to run, Macri would beat Kiciloff much more easily, by 41 to 34 percent, with 25 percent undecided.

However, the President is practically tied with Massa – 36 against 35, with a staggering 29 percent of undecided voters – and would actually lose against Lavagna by 37 to 34 percent, with 29 percent undecided. The problem, as we mentioned before, is getting to such a runoff.

The following survey shows how.

Synopsis

If former President Kirchner doesn’t run for office, the survey says, the combination of vote gathered by her potential replacements – 18.7 percent – would lose against its PJ counterpart, which, combined would get 26.6 percent of the vote. Cambiemos, on its end, would get 27.8 percent.

Moreover, another question showed that 50.8 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for an alternative to Cambiemos, against 30.8 percent who said they would. This potential runoff against a PJ candidate, then, is not auspicious for the government.

However, if Kirchner does run, she would get 27.6 percent of the vote, beating the PJ’s combined 22.5 percent, and losing against Macri’s 29.1. At this moment, however, she still loses in the runoff.

Ricardo Rouvier & Asociados

This poll shows Cristina beating Macri in the first round and in the runoff, although by narrow margins: 32.4 to 29.2 and 38.9 to 37.9, with 20 percent saying they would not vote for either of the two. Moreover, it shows that four out of every 10 people who said they don’t know who they would vote for in the runoff, chose Macri in 2015. If they decide to give him their support again, the parity would be even greater.

But then again, the elections are almost nine months away, which could very well be called an eternity in Argentine political time. Until then, anything can happen.