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OPINION AND ANALYSIS | 13-06-2023 16:09

Has support for Javier Milei reached a ceiling?

The libertarian lawmaker’s brand remains strong but support for his presidential candidacy is failing to translate to his local representatives in the provincial ballots. Has Javier Milei’s support hit a ceiling?

One more Sunday of provincial elections after which Javier Milei avoids showing his face so as not to have to talk about the dismal results of his candidates. Ricardo Bussi, his representative in Tucumán Province obtained 3.94 percent last weekend. Milei’s candidate came in a comfortable third place in La Rioja and finished fourth in provinces such as Río Negro, Neuquén and Tierra del Fuego. Not to mention the fact that in other races, the results were similar or worse.

Has Jaiver Milei hit a ceiling in the polls? Is his brand strong enough to keep him in the fight between now and Sunday, August 13, and the PASO primaries? And what is happening in the universe he manages best, the social networks? These are questions that – while lacking concrete answers – are setting off the alarm bells among Milei's political operators, who understand that the race to the ballot box is longer than anticipated.

The results, so far, show a trend. 15.5 percent in La Rioja; 9.1 percent in Río Negro; 8.2 percent in Neuquén; 7.4 percent in Tierra del Fuego; 3.94 percent in Tucumán; 3.2 percent in Jujuy; 2.3 percent in Salta and 0.4 percent in Misiones.

Among various opinion polls, a study by the consulting firm Zuban Córdoba stands out. It took into account the opinions of 1,300 potential voters, between May 26 and June 1, and surveyed the percentages of support for possible shock policies to be applied by the next president after taking office. Of most of Milei’s proposals, the majority have a rejection rate of over 60 percent and some are close to a ceiling of 80 percent.

This is the case for dollarisation, the backbone of Milei’s economic programme, which registered 63 percent disagreement and 27.5 percent acceptance. Other concrete examples: the proposal to allow the free carrying of guns was rejected by 77.4 percent of those quizzed; the proposal to eliminate comprehensive sex education in schools was rejected by 75 percent; the proposal to privatise public companies was rejected by 68.8 percent; and the proposal to eliminate the Women, Gender & Diversity Ministry was rejected by 70 percent.

Lucas Romero, of the Synopsis consultancy firm, responded to Perfil: "I dare say so. In May, voting intentions dropped a few tenths of a percentage point. It had been rising steadily since the end of last year, so the first reflection is that it looks like a ceiling. We'll have to see in June.”

He cautioned: "I wouldn't look at the provincial results to see the ceiling. The two processes may be decoupled, but it is true that looking at the composition of Milei's support, he does not have a discourse capable of penetrating other segments that look with some depth. So that's where you have a big problem."

Facundo Nejamkis of Opina Argentina is more cautious: "Rather than a ceiling, we see a stability in voter preference in four quarters. One-quarter Juntos por el Cambio, one-quarter Frente de Todos and one-quarter Javier Milei. It doesn't move from there. The last [quarter] does not know, does not answer or is undecided. But the campaign has not yet begun and the candidacies of the rivals have not yet taken shape. In other words, we have to wait.."

A similar panorama can be seen in the latest study by Scidata, which shows an eventual ceiling and fall in terms of activity and level of penetration in social networks. 

In the report, based on more than 6,000 interactions, Diego Corbalán concludes: "In May, Milei ratified the leadership he has been exercising in conversations on Argentine political social networks, as well as in the interest of Argentine users in main political leaders. The libertarian has been gaining popularity since last February, rising from 24 percent to 37.4 percent digital protagonism in April."

"However, in May, Milei moderated his prominence to drop to 31 percent, while Patricia Bullrich was a distant second with 18.7 percent. In third place, Horacio Rodriguez Larreta was left with 12.8 percent of Argentine interest in political leadership on the networks and the web. The best pre-candidate for Kirchnerism was [Eduardo] ‘Wado’ de Pedro, who managed to get 10.9 percent,” said Corbalán.

Ramón Indart

Ramón Indart

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