Santos overtaken in polls ten days before Presidential election
For the first time President Juan Manuel Santos has dropped below his main rival Óscar Iván Zuluaga of the Democratic Center (CD) in the opinion polls as we enter the final phase of the presidential election campaign.
Both candidates have suffered from adverse publicity relating to advisers, but the President seems to have come out worst in the encounters.
La República and Reuters report on two polls recently published. A poll last month by the pollster Cifras y Conceptos put the President on 27% with Zuluaga on 19%, but this month the poll has Santos on 27.7% and Zuluaga on 23.9%.
Whilst that is a statistical tie, another poll conducted by Gallup gives Zuluaga 29.3% and President Santos 29%. In a second round runoff, which is now almost inevitable, the same poll puts Zuluaga on 42.5% against 35.1% for President Santos.
A third poll conducted by the Centro Nacional de Consultoría/CM between 6-10 May gives Santos 22% and Zuluaga 24%.
Blank votes reached their height in February when the Gallup poll put them at 28.1% but they have fallen back in this latest poll to 5.8% as people make up their minds in favour of one of the candidates.
La República quotes Según Jorge Londoño, the CEO of Gallup, as saying that there are two reasons for the surge in support for Zuluaga. The first is the image of credibility the candidate has by being associated with former President Alvaro Uribe. The second is that Zuluaga has placed more emphasis on security rather than the peace process, with more people being worried about common crime than about an upsurge in the guerrilla war with FARC.
The Gallup poll puts unemployment as the most important issue for the new President to tackle with common crime, healthcare and corruption also being high on the list.
The Presidential election takes place on 25th May with a second round, if no candidate gets 50% or more of the vote, taking place on 15th June.