Government officials have cause for concern after two new surveys indicated that Horacio Rodríguez Larreta may not reach the 50 percent of votes required to win the race to become Buenos Aires City mayor outright in the first round.
The polls indicate that Frente de Todos Matías Lammens is picking up enough support to take the battle to a second round, with Rodríguez Larreta falling short of the threshold.
Losing Argentina's capital would be a huge setback for President Mauricio Macri and his Juntos por el Cambio coalition. For the last 12 years, the City been a stronghold for PRO, the president's political party, catapulting Macri to the Presidency in 2015. In last month's PASO primaries, for example, CABA and Córdoba were the only districts to back Macri's candidacy under the Juntos por el Cambio coalition banner above the presidential ticket led by Peronist rival Alberto Fernández.
The new data, however, will spark renewed concern among officials. With Fernández the clear frontrunner to win the October 27 presidential election – after emerging from the PASOs with a 15-point lead over Macri – a potential defeat for the government in Buenos Aires City would be disastrous.
On Friday, a face-to-face survey by Federico González y Asociados was published. Based on interviews with 600 people in Buenos Aires City from September 13 to 16, the poll showed that Rodríguez Larreta and his running-mate, Diego Santilli, would take 48.9 percent of the vote, with Matías Lammens and his vice-mayoral candidate Gisela Marziotta taking 40.7 percent. Consenso Federal's Matías Tombolini trailed in third place with 7.3 percent. Some 10.4 percent of voters said they were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 must also be taken into account.
However, when quizzed on a run-off between Rodríguez Larreta and Lammens, 52.8 percent said they would back President Macri's candidate, compared to 47.2 percent for the Frente de Todos hopeful. Around 12 percent of voters said they remained undecided in a head-to-head race between the two.
Meanwhile, a second poll by the Clivajes consultancy firm produced similar numbers. This survey, carried out from September 11 to 16, gave 49.12 percent in voting intentions for the incumbent, with the challenger taking 37.65 percent. Tombolini was more than 30 points behind, on 5.15 percent. Around 4.5 percent of voters were undecided.
The Clivajes survey, which consulted 657 people through online means, broke down the run-off into a 51.4 percent to 43.5 percent win for Rodríguez Larreta over the San Lorenzo club president. The margin of error was 3.8 percent.
In its conclusion, Clivajes said the results indicated :the electoral situation in CABA is still open."
The City mayor election is held the same day as the presidential ballot. In last month's PASO primaries, the incumbent and his running-mate won 45.92 percent of votes, with Lammens and Marziotta reaching 31.36 percent.