Monday, October 21, 2013

October poll from Paradigma

Presidential poll results just published on the Paradigma website show Partido Nacional candidate Juan Orlando Hernández pulling ahead of LIBRE party candidate Xiomara Castro de Zelaya for the first time in the presidential race, 25.7% to 22.2%. The margin of error is indicated as +/- 1.54%.

Where are these additional voters coming from? Two possibilities present themselves.

The number of voters answering "none of the above" declined 2.8%. At the same time, the number declining to state a preference went up by 1.3%, so it is quite possible that what we are seeing in those two categories is mostly the same pool of uncommitted voters, answering the pollsters slightly differently.

The more interesting possibility we see here is that the slight movement to Juan Orlando Hernández-- if it is real, and not just statistical noise-- is coming from Liberal Party voters who know that Mauricio Villeda is not viable, and find the pro-business, pro-security centrism of Hernández more acceptable than the mild social democratic progressivism of LIBRE. In the latest poll, Villeda declined 1.3%, from 12% in September to 10.7% now.

It isn't particularly surprising that LIBRE's support has flattened-- actually, it is surprising it hasn't been more badly affected by the negative campaigning going on. Whether it is distributing fake LIBRE flyers that make exaggerated claims that LIBRE will make Honduras into another Cuba, or Oscar Alvarez in El Heraldo portraying LIBRE as a threat to people's safety because the party opposes the militarized police, or the republication of Roger Noriega's insane argument that constitutional reform would "open the country to drug trafficking", this is a dirty contest. And then there's the string of assassinations of LIBRE candidates and activists, documented by Rights Action.

So it might be worth making two last points, before this very modest difference between the two lead candidates is interpreted as definitive.

First, the Partido Nacional claims they have a private poll showing their candidate 7 points ahead, not reflected in the latest poll. This is especially interesting because today Oscar Alvarez specifically was quoted as claiming,
various polls such as Paradigma place JOH very far above the candidate Xiomara Castro.

Must be some other "Paradigma", because this one has this race continuing to be closely contested.

The candidate for one of the two traditional parties, enjoying all the advantages of organization, control of the entire government, and benefiting from a media campaign to demonize his competitor, is struggling to pull past the candidate of a new party with none of those advantages.

Second: 30.8% of the respondents still either declined to state a preference or declared an intention not to vote for any of the listed candidates.

So the leading candidate in this historic election remains "None of the Above".

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