Duque opens up 20-point lead over Petro in first poll after election

By Arjun Harindranath June 3, 2018

Photo courtesy of @IvanDuque

Centro Democrático leader Iván Duque now enjoys a commanding 20-point lead over rival Gustavo Petro ahead of the presidential runoff elections on June 17, according to a recent poll. At 55%, Duque now leads against Gustavo Petro of Colombia Humana who has 35%.

The poll, conducted by Centro Nacional de Consultoria and CM&, has a margin of error of 3% and is the first to be conducted since the two candidates made it through to the final round last Sunday. It took into account the voting preferences of 1,323 homes across 42 municipalities in Colombia.

With the exception of the Pacifico, Duque swept the board across all the other major regions in the country, registering double digit leads against Petro in Bogotá, Central, Eje Cafetero and Oriente. He also has a smaller lead over Petro in the Caribe region. The disparity between the two candidates was expected prior to the first round with polls showing that Petro would struggle against Duque when pitched head to head.

Bogotá displayed the greatest turn in Duque’s fortunes following the first round. After having secured third place behind Fajardo and Petro last Sunday, according to this most recent poll, he now has 49% to Petro’s 39%. Bogotá was the only region where Fajardo won so winning over his voters would be a crucial mandate for either candidate.

In fact, a major storyline that will play out over the next fortnight will be to what extent Petro can close the gap and, to this end, how many Fajardo voters he can persuade to vote for his party.

Fajardo himself has said that he will vote en blanco (a form of protest vote in Colombia when a voter doesn’t want to back any of the candidates) and many of his voters may be disgruntled enough with the results of last Sunday to follow suit. “[N]either of them represents what we want for Colombia,” Fajardo said in a written statement on Thursday.

However, many within the Coalición Colombia have chosen to vote their conscience and vote in favour of Petro instead. Clara Lopez for one, Humberto De la Calle’s running mate, has chosen to side with Petro, as have the leadership of  Polo Democrático Alternativo. The party’s sitting senator Jorge Robledo however has chosen to side with Fajardo in choosing to vote en blanco as well.

The influence of polls on voters and their accuracy is a topic universal across all democracies and it is unlikely that we’ll settle on a definitive answer in this year’s election cycle. But as it stands, Petro will need more than endorsements if he’s going to narrow the vast gap between the two candidates.

Petro pledged to fight inequality when in office. Over the next two weeks, putting himself on an equal footing with Duque will be the first inequality he will have address to avoid a complete blowout win for the Centro Democrático party.