Two polls released on Thursday showed major discrepancies regarding voter preference for Colombia’s upcoming presidential election. According to one pollster, incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos and his rival Oscar Ivan Zuluaga are tied, while a second said the opposition candidate has taken a clear lead.
|Colombia’s 2014 elections|
A Gallup poll that was released on Thursday showed that 48.5% of intentional voters chose Zuluaga, while 47.7% said to be voting Santos. Another 3.7% said to be voting blank.
However, both Gallup and Cifras y Conceptos, who released a poll last week, said that Santos has been able to minimize the distance between him and Zuluaga to a percentage point or less.
Ipsos Napoleon Franco
A poll conducted by Colombian pollster Ipsos Napoleon Franco, whose predictions of first round results proved more accurate than those of Gallup, contradicted the other poll results, saying that Zuluaga has taken a clear lead over Santos.
According to Ipsos, 49% of decided voters said to be voting for Zuluaga against 41% for Santos and 10% for the blank vote.
Ten percent of the voters said to not yet have made a decision on their electoral preference.
Santos closed already tiny gap: Gallup
Zuluaga took a clear lead in the first round when he collected 29.3%, a little less than 3.5 percentage points more than Santos.
However, according to Gallup, the preference for the president has gone up 12.6 percentage points since the pollster’s last report in mid May, 10 days before the first round. Zuluaga’s support also grew but no more than six percentage points.
Following the first round, Santos successfully received the endorsement of leftist ex-candidate Clara Lopez and powerful factions within the centrist Green Alliance party and the Conservative Party. Zuluaga also strengthened his position on the right of the political spectrum following an alliance with former Conservative Party candidate Marta Lucia Ramirez, who has taken a different course than her party magnates and announced to rather side with Zuluaga than Santos.
Zuluaga taking clear lead as abstention drops: Ipsos
The Ipsos poll showed the increase in support for Santos along an increase interest to take part in the second round of what’s become Colombia’s most fiercely contested election since 1998.
The increased support for the opposition candidate coincided with an increase in intentional votes. According to Ipsos, 75% of interviewed voters said to be taking part in the second round against 67% in a poll held before the first round.
During the first round, only 40% of Colombia’s electorate actually showed up at the polling stations. In the initial round, Santos proved to lead in areas where voter turnout was lower while Zuluaga voters outnumbered those of his opponent in regions where turnout was higher.
Who’s voting for who?
According to Gallup, Zuluaga’s electorate is particularly prominent in central Colombia while Santos gathered most support along the Caribbean coast and the conflict-torn southwest of the country. the incumbent is mainly the favorite in small towns and villages, while his rival proved more popular in middle to large cities.
The incumbent president’s main weakness seems to be his lack of support from Colombia’s middle and upper class, of which a clear majority of 52.8% indicated to be voting the hard-line opposition candidate.
Colombia’s lower class indicated to be in favor of Santos. While more than 60% of Colombia’s electorate is either working class or living below the poverty line, it will be hard for the president to turn this constituency’s electoral potential into votes; The first round had a historically low turnout of 40% which was particularly high in impoverished areas.
Women have a slight tendency towards Zuluaga, while more men chose Santos, said Gallup.
The pollster also indicated that Zuluaga is the most popular candidate among young voters voters older than 45 clearly said to prefer Santos.
Peace talks not the biggest issue
While both candidates have focused their campaigns on ongoing peace talks with the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, voters seemed to give that election item little priority.
According to Gallup, unemployment is Colombians’ main concern followed by healthcare and crime. Making peace with guerrilla groups was the priority of 10.5% of the voters.