Sen. Eduardo Frei is seeing his second-place standing falter in the countryâ€™s biggest cities, according to a poll to determine expected voter behavior in the upcoming presidential election.
The most recent poll by conservative daily newspaper El Mercurio and a Santiago-based polling organization, Opina, surveyed 1,200 people across Santiago, ValparaÃso and ConcepciÃ³n between Oct. 10-12.
Frei, the candidate for the governing center-left ConcertaciÃ³n coalition, would beat out rival independent candidate Marco EnrÃquez-Ominami in the first round of an election, 22.8 percent to 21.5 percent (within a statistical margin of error), but would fare worse in the eventual second round against leading conservative candidate SebastiÃ¡n PiÃ±era. In such a runoff, either candidate would lose to PiÃ±era, but EnrÃquez-Ominami would capture more of the vote (40.3 percent) than Frei (38.1 percent).
PiÃ±era, who has held the lead consistently in opinion polls, would win a commanding 38 percent of the first-round votes, and would beat out either candidate in a runoff, scoring 42.9 percent against EnrÃquez-Ominami or 42.5 percent against Frei. Jorge Arrate, from the leftist party Junto Podemos, is polling at 4.9 percent in the first round. Chileâ€™s election laws would mandate a second-round runoff if no candidate receives more than 50 percent in the first round.
Polls by the Center for Public Studies (CEP) show that Frei still enjoys leading support in the more rural areas, 38.7 percent, which surpasses the 38.2 netted by PiÃ±era and dwarfs the 9.1 percent promised to EnrÃquez-Ominami.
EnrÃquez-Ominami has been steadily gaining on his two competitors, rising from just 13 percent of the vote to 17 percent between May and August, according to a CEP poll. The same poll, which measured anticipated voter behavior in August, put PiÃ±era ahead of Frei and EnrÃquez-Ominami, who each received 37 percent, 28 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
The candidates have had several debates since, however, including a contentious televised debate on Sept. 23, in which the three leading candidates traded accusations of misdeeds, ranging from insider trading to a lack of transparency on campaign spending (ST, Sept. 24).
The debate, according to Radio Cooperativa, improved the publicâ€™s perception of all the candidates but PiÃ±era: 80 percent noted an increase in opinion for Arrate, 63.3 percent for EnrÃquez-Ominami and 59.5 percent for Frei, with just 44.3 percent for PiÃ±era.
SOURCES: EL MERCURIO, RADIO COOPERATIVA