A new survey ahead of Argentina's presidential election on October 22 is forecasting that the ballot will go to a run-off between libertarian frontrunner Javier Milei and ruling coalition candidate Sergio Massa.
Following the trend of post-PASO polls indicating that Milei – the outspoken La Libertad Avanza candidate running for the nation's office for the first time – has consolidated his lead ahead of the general election proper, the new study estimates that the 52-year-old economist has grown his lead by four points since his August 13 primary victory to rise to 34 percent of the vote.
The poll, conducted by Opina Argentina, assessed the voting intentions of more than 2,300 respondents between September 1 and 7. It concluded that Milei remains ahead in the race for the Casa Rosada and has in fact gathered greater support since the August primaries.
Sergio Massa, running for Unión por la Patria, has done the same, rising from third to second position. The economy minister had got 27 percent in the primaries, but according to the survey, which carries a +/- 2 percent margin of error, he is now at 29 percent.
Facundo Nejamkis, director of Opina Argentina, said that “Massa has exhibited moderate growth, within the margin of error in relation to Unión por la Patria’s results in the PASO primaries."
"What seems clear so far is that he seems to retain his votes and those [who voted] for [primary rival Juan] Grabois in the primaries,” he added.
In this vein, the expert claimed that “we found no significant voter migration, as was the case from Patricia Bullrich to Javier Milei.”
Even though Massa's candidacy seems to be on the rise, the challenge for the ruling coalition candidate is to continue adding votes for the general election.
“Massa’s great hope is to gain the support of those who did not vote in the PASO primaries and can now be approached due to the fear of a Milei triumph,” Nejamkis added.
The one faring worst seems to be Juntos por el Cambio candidate Patricia Bullrich. The opposition leader's coalition obtained 28 percent in the primaries, second after Milei. Yet this study places the former security minister in third place with 25 percent voting intention – and as the only hopeful among the three most competitive options to have failed to improve their share of the vote.
For Opina Argentina, the former minister “seems to be struggling to keep all of [primary rival] Horacio Rodríguez Larreta’s votes from the PASO primaries.”
In tune with these results, Milei is the candidate with the most positive image, according to voters. The libertarian polls at 43 percent, but with a negative of 52 percent; Bullrich’s image is 36 percent positive and 61 percent negative; Massa has a 34 percent positive and 64 percent negative.
“Bullrich is having difficulties retaining Juntos por el Cambio voters from the PASO primaries. A portion of her own voters in the primaries are migrating towards Milei, and a percentage of Rodríguez Larreta’s voters are undecided, or migrating towards other options. This causes Bullrich to drop by three points as against the votes garnered by Juntos por el Cambio in August,” explained Nejamkis
“Over the last week, Bullrich has reinforced her anti-Kirchnerite message, ignoring Milei. Her idea is to recover votes with a clearly anti-Kirchnerite discourse. It remains to be seen whether her strategy will pay off," added the pollster.
Outside the main options, the left-wing ticket headed by Myriam Bregman from Frente de Izquierda y Trabajadores – Unidad has a share of three percent. 'Third way' hopeful Juan Schiaretti, from Hacemos por Nuestro País, has two percent. Four percent of voters are undecided and three percent have stated they will cast a blank vote or not vote at all.
Many analysts have sought to explain the motivation behind Milei's popularity by branding it as a so-called "protest vote," highlighting his regular denunciations of and fiery rhetoric against Argentina's "political caste." However, the Opina Argentina survey offers a more detailed outlook.
When asked about the “main reason” for voting for Milei, 75 percent’s answers were related to "hope," while 22 percent spoke of "anger."
Among those leaning towards hope, 43 percent stated they like the economist’s economic ideas, whereas 32 percent said they believe him to be “the only one who can help this country move forward”.
On the other hand, those who stated they would vote for him out of anger said they would do so “because they are angry with politicians” (14 percent) and “because he is the lesser of two evils” (eight percent). Three percent stated they are undecided about it.
“His economic proposals are the main driver of Milei’s votes among youths (49 percent) and the 30-49 age bracket (49 percent) and in the middle (49 percent) and upper (50 percent) economic sectors. Among underprivileged voters for Milei, the belief that the libertarian is the only one who can help the country move forward is the main reason," the study concludes.