Social democrat Gustavo Petro is consolidating his lead in the polls leading up to Colombia’s presidential election in May, according to a poll by the National Consulting Center (CNC).
The CNC poll is notoriously unreliable, but confirmed other polls that put the former guerrilla and former mayor of Bogota in the lead.
Ivan Duque, the candidate endorsed by hard-right former President Alvaro Uribe, took a major leap in the poll and is now ahead of his main rival for the conservative vote, former Vice-President German Vargas.
CNC poll results
- Gustavo Petro (22% | -1)
- Sergio Fajardo (16% | -2)
- Ivan Duque (15% | +7)
- German Vargas (8% | -2)
The candidacy of both Petro and Duque will have to formalized in primaries that will be held in March.
While Petro seems to be certain to lead the left’s campaign ahead of the elections, Duque faces strong competition from Marta Lucia Ramirez, who has a serious change of being elected the conservatives’ leader.
While popular among conservatives, Ramirez is considerably less popular among the general public. According to CNC, she can count on the support of 6% of the electorate.
Colombia’s many divisions
Petro’s lead in multiple polls is a surprise to many. Duque’s rise at the apparent expense of Fajardo and Vargas seems to indicate that voters are moving away from the center.
With only three months to go until the first round of the elections, chances are increasing that a second round will be a classic contest between left and right.
The CNC poll, however, also indicated a major regional division. Petro and Vargas are from the capital Bogota, while Fajardo and Duque are from Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city.
Petro’s main electoral support comes from Bogota, central Colombia and the Caribbean, according to CNC. Fajardo and Duque perform considerably better in the west and east of the country, where land-owning elites wield considerable power.
The big unknown
Colombia’s polls, particularly those held by CNC, are notoriously unreliable.
Ahead of Colombia’s last vote, a referendum on a peace deal with the FARC, the CNC predicted that 65% would vote in favor. Colombians ended up voting against the historic agreement.
Part of the lack of reliability is due Colombia’s traditionally low turnout of less than 50%.
According to CNC, 20% of the people they interviewed said they would cast a blank vote. This protest vote, however, has traditionally performed much better in polls than in the actual elections.
Many of those who told the pollster they would cast a blank vote could end up not voting or voting for any of the candidates.
If none of the candidates obtain a majority support in the first round that is held on May 27, the winner will be determined in a second round on June 17.