Duque is losing support in Colombia’s election race, but can Petro catch up?

Exactly a month before Colombia elects a new president, multiple polls confirm that conservative candidate Ivan Duque continues to lead, but is losing significant support to progressive candidate Gustavo Petro.

Duque, the protege of the controversial former President Alvaro Uribe, has lost support in multiple polls while support for Petro, a former guerrilla and former mayor, continues to grow.

Other candidates have become virtually invisible amid growing polarization.

Consensus among most pollsters

According to pollster Yanhaas, Duque’s support went from 40% to 38% between March and April, the month in which more presidential debates took place than in any previous election race in the country.

Petro’s support went from 24% to 28% in the same period.

Yanhaas’ results were confirmed by the so-called Aggregated Electoral Preference Index (IAPE), which combines the results of multiple polls.

According to the IAPE, support for Uribe’s candidate dropped to 36.3% of polled Colombians while support for the anti-corruption advocate grew to 26.1%.

The two front-runners are followed by former Medellin Mayor Sergio Fajardo and former Vice-President German Vargas.

Interest for candidates on Google

Multiple polls have shown that the division in Colombia is not just between conservatives and progressives, but also strongly associated with regional and age divisions.

While Petro is the leading candidate in the capital Bogota and in the coastal regions, Duque performs better in traditionally conservative areas in the Andean region.

The conservative candidate can count on most support from older candidates, while Petro has convincing support among young voters, according to Yanhaas.

Impossible prognosis

The ongoing election race is undoubtedly the most volatile in decades.

The majority of Colombians did not know who Duque was until he received the endorsement of Uribe at the end of last year and support skyrocketed.

Young voters, however, see the candidate as a representative of the corrupt elites that have ruled the country for centuries. Despite the fact that Duque is the youngest candidate in the race, the conservative has failed to impress the younger generations.

Why Colombia’s establishment and Gustavo Petro don’t get along

Petro’s popularity has taken many analysts by surprise. Older voters are more than weary about the former mayor’s past as a guerrilla ideologue, but less than anticipated by many.

The anti-corruption candidate has outperformed his main rival in presidential debates that are relatively new in the country’s electoral process.

On social media, Petro has been dominant. The leftist has 10 times more followers on Twitter than his conservative rival. Also Petro’s public rallies are dwarfing those of Duque.

Nevertheless, a victory for the anti-corruption advocate still seems a bridge too far; many older Colombians have a strong aversion to everything that resembles leftist thought. Moderate voters hesitate to choose for the candidate who has openly echoed accusations that Uribe is guilty of war crimes and rape.

Moreover, Colombia’s young voters have been notoriously absent on election days. Whether Petro can convince his supporters to cast a vote on May 27 remains to be seen.

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