Saturday, February 21, 2009

Three weeks to go

Three weeks are left before El Salvador's potentially historic presidential election. The country is in the midst of an election campaign fought out on the airwaves, at rallies, on the internet, in billboards and newspapers.

This week's poll results came from CS-SONDEA which gave Mauricio Funes an 11 point lead, 41.3% to 30.1%. I don't know anything about CS-SONDEA so I can't comment on its reliability as a polling organization, but my own sense is that the election is closer than this poll would indicate.

Those CS-SONDEA poll results suggest almost 30% of the voters are undecided. I doubt that as well, but I do wonder if there will be higher turnout for the presidential election than in January. Turnout for the January election of mayors and legislators totaled 54%. That turnout was lower than seemed to be the level of interest in the opinion polls leading up to the election. It is possible that people were not energized to vote for mayors and legislators, but a presidential election will draw more people to the polls. So if more of those people who stayed at home come to the polls in three weeks, which party will they favor?

For really good coverage of the election, make sure to read the blog from Voices on the Border. Recent posts have described the flurry of endorsements from minor party officials of Avila and Funes, the request by the US Embassy that the FMLN stop using the image of Barack Obama in its ads, and the question of how governable El Salvador will be following these polarized elections.


Larry said...

In Salvadoran polls "undecided" usually means "not voting." In that case, 30% is relatively low.

pija said...

all salvadoran civil society should take conscience and organize a massive rally to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with el diario de hoy...i have never in my life read such yellow, partisan, ideologically surrendered goes totally the opposite way to what real, true, authentic journalism is all about. it should not be censored nor punished in any way, but the general public, free of partisan intention, should unanimously and indefinitely boycott it. it is the best, pacific way to show dissaproval and hold them accountable to morality, and professional standards of ethic. i say never again purchase a print out of el diario de hoy nor ever again take it seriously as a trust worthy news provider. thank goodness i am not muslim, if not i would already have declared jihad on it.

Solavá said...

Tim, CS-Sondea is a polling company owned by Mauricio Funes and his campaign manager Hato Hasbun. In fact, the so-called "Greenberg" poll from last December and which gave a huge advantage to the FMLN was actually an interpretation of a poll carried out by CS-Sondea.

Now, this doesn't mean that it's results are slanted. In fact, in the past election they quite right. The problem was not with their poll results, the problem was with the interpretation given by Greenberg, which took the "undecided" vote and distributed among the participating parties giving the FMLN an advantage.

It's not true, as the "Larry" says in the first comment that "undecided" means "not voting". In fact, polls in El Salvador limit their numbers to those who declare that they are in fact going to vote. Therefore, the so-called "undecided" are those voters who declare their intention to vote but have not made up their minds yet. Traditionally, 80 per cent of those have represented a conservative vote. If you apply that pattern to the CS-Sondea polls from December, you'll see that they guessed the outcome exactly right. The question is: Will the FMLN be able to break that pattern and bring more voters out for the next campaign. Otherwise, it looks as if the conservative block within the "undecided" will give Avila a clear win.