Incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos remains the favorite heading into Colombia’s presidential elections this May, with questions still surrounding a heated race among his opponents.
A new nationwide poll published by Ipsos on Friday sees Santos holding onto the lead he has maintained consistently since polling began last fall. With the president still well under the threshold for a first ballot victory — eyes will be focused on who is going to emerge from the pack as his challenger in an eventual runoff.
Were elections held today, Santos would win 24% of the vote, according to the new poll, down 4% from his latest numbers. The poll, which surveyed some 1,233 Colombian voters, also indicated that Santos would win in any given second ballet matchup. Large numbers of undecided and protest voters, however, mean that the outcome is still far from certain.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the field, Oscar Ivan Zulaga, the candidate for former President Alvaro Uribe’s Democratic Center (Centro Democratico) party, Clara Lopez of the Democratic Pole (Polo Democratico), and Enrique Peñalosa of the Green Alliance (Alianza Verde) are locked in a tight scramble for a second place finish in the first ballot contest — and the place in the runoff second election that comes with it.
Zuluaga, the consistent runner up in polls thus far, came in at 9%, just slightly ahead of Lopez and Peñalosa, who each polled at 8%.
The results coincide with previous indications, reaffirmed most recently in a Gallup survey, that Zuluaga is Santos’ most likely competitor in an eventual second ballot election, though with a margin of error of 2.8%, there is still no meaningful separation between the three would-be challengers.
A poll released last Monday by the El Tiempo newspaper found that Green Alliance candidate Enrique Peñalosa was leading behind Santos, and would beat the incumbent in a runoff. The most recent poll, on the other hand, shows Santos winning in a head-to-head between the two, with 33% to Peñalosa’s 19%.
Santos, according to the poll, would beat Zuluaga and Lopez by similar margins in the event of a runoff — 36% to 16%, and 35% to 18% respectively.
The “blank” or protest vote option has lost some popularity among voters, the poll found, falling five percentage points. At 19%, though, the blank vote could still play an important role in May’s elections, as could the undecided voter bloc, which polled at 27%.
At least 51% of the vote is required to win a first ballot election in Colombia. If no candidate breaks that threshold on May 25′s elections, a second ballot runoff will be held in mid-June between the two highest finishers, in which a simple majority suffices.
Colombia Reports will be featuring the latest in presidential polling data throughout the run up to May’s elections under the “Election Polls” sidebar, where readers can track and compare each of the major polls.
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