Mauricio Funes, Politics

President Funes has the Highest Approval Ratings in the Americas

Consulta Mitofsky recently released a compilation of poll results, which found that Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes enjoys an approval rating of 84%, the highest in the Americas. Luiz Inacio Lula of Brazil enjoys an 81% approval rating, coming in a close second, followed by Michelle Bachelet of Chile with 78%. Among Central American countries, Ricardo Martinelli of Panama follows Funes with 77% and Alvaro Colom with 46%. President Obama enjoys a 54% approval rating.

In August, Consulta Mitofsky cunducted a series of polls on the Funes Administration’s first 100 days. The poll found that 82% of Salvadorans believe that the economy is worse than it was a year ago, down from 89% in May. Similarly, 56% of the population believes that the political situation is worse, down from 64% in May. Despite the increase in violence in recent months, 66% of the population believes that the security situation has worsened, down from 75% in May. The most dramatic change came in the area of health care, in which 44% of Salvadorans believe that the situation is worse compared to last year, down from 64% in May; 54% believe that health care has improved over the last year, up from 34%.

Though Funes enjoys some fairly high approval ratings, there are some weak areas. When asked if certain areas have improved or become worse, respondents believe that health care and education have significantly improved, 82% and 81% respectively. Similarly, 54% of Salvadorans believe that assistance in the rural areas has improved. When it comes to some of the more crucial social issues, however, the administration’s numbers are not as strong. Only 32% of Salvadorans believe that corruption has improved, while 63% believe that it has gotten worse in Funes’ first 100 days. Similarly, only 28% believe that job creation has improved, while 67% believe that it is worse. Only 22% of Salvadorans believe that the fight against youth gangs has improved, while 76% believe it to be worse. So while Funes enjoys a high approval rating early on, they will have some very difficult issues to take on in the months ahead.

The August polls also show that Funes enjoys a 66% approval rating among Salvadorans who identify themselves as supporters of the right-wing ARENA party. This cross-over support is especially significant in light of El Salvador’s long history of political polarization, which led to a twelve-year civil war in the 1980s.

Elections 2009

New Polls Tell Different Stories

Seven polls regarding the presidential elections were released in the past 8 days, and their findings differ widely. They range from a 3 point lead for Rodrigo Avila (ARENA) to a 20 point lead for Mauricio Funes. One thing is clear is that the race has gotten tighter. See the table below for a summary of the results.

Three polls were released today, Feb 26: one from Universidad Centroamericana’s University Institute on Public Opinion (IUDOP), one by CID – Gallup, and one by Mendoza y Asociados. All showed Funes with a lead, though the size varied. IUDOP showed Funes with a 18-point lead over Avila, winning 49% of respondents. CID-Gallup found Funes with a 6-point lead, and the survey by Mendoza y Asociados gave him a 3-point lead. (Escobar, Ivan and Beatriz Castillo. “Funes aventaja a Ávila en intención de voto: IUDOP” Diario Co Latino. 26 Feb 2009.)

The Salvadoran Opinion Research Center (CIOPS) at the University of Technology of El Salvador (UTEC) released a poll Feb 25. It found that 50.5% of respondents said they would vote for Funes, and 48.9% said they would vote for Avila. However, they warned that Funes lead was within the margin of error, and therefore the results were inconclusive. (Escobar, Iván. “‘Margen de error no permite asegurar ventaja’: dice Zárate” Diario Co Latino. 25 Feb 2009.)

On Feb 24, the research firm Borges y Asociados published a poll in the conservative newspaper Diario de Hoy that gave Avila a 0.9% lead over Funes, with Avila winning the support of 40.9% of respondents, and Funes winning 40.0%. Nearly a fifth remained undecided. There was no mention of the margin of error.

The survey also asked respondents a number of questions regarding their age, sex, level of education, and level of monthly income. Avila faired better than Funes in the groups of voters who are over 50 years old, who have primary education, and who earn less than $200 per month. Funes gained a majority of voters who are between 18-29 years old, are university graduates, and make more than $400/month. (Miranda, Enrique. “Ávila supera a Funes” Diario de Hoy. 24 Feb 2009)

An FMLN-sponsored poll conducted by Vox Latino, an independent Guatemalan organization, gave Funes a 20.1 point lead, only slightly higher than the 19.5% of respondents that said that they could change their mind before the election. (Andrade, Teresa. “Una encuesta interna FMLN les favorece ampliamente.” El Mundo. 24 Feb 2009.)

On Feb 18 Jabes Market Research firm published a poll in which respondents were given a ballot to mark their presidential preferences if the election were today. The study found that 41% of participants chose Avila (ARENA), 38% chose (FMLN), a three point lead for Avila. It is worth noting that 20% of the ballots were left blank; indicating either they were not planning to vote, or were still undecided.

Jabes Market Research also conducted verbal survey which yielded much different results, putting Funes 6 points ahead. Forty-four percent of respondents said they would vote for Funes, 38% said they supported Avila, and 12% (“ARENA adelante en intención de voto” Diario el Mundo. 18 Feb 2009.

Poll Results from Late FebNote: Bold outline indicates a clear lead, while dotted indicates a lead that falls within the assumed margin of error.

Elections 2009

A Shift Towards the Center?

Feb 7, 2009

A recent poll published in La Prensa Grafica, a national newspaper, asked with which party voters most closely identified. The ARENA and FMLN parties were nearly tied for support, with roughly a third of respondents identifying with each. In a country known for its partisanship and polarization, a whopping 21.9% of respondents said that they don’t identify with any party. It should be noted that this category includes both respondents who are disillusioned with the political system to the point of non-participation as well as respondents who aren’t committed to a single party.

Another study published in La Prensa Grafica asked party members to place themselves on a political spectrum from extreme left to extreme right. The study found, unsurprisingly, that among ARENA supporters a third identified themselves as being on the right or the extreme right, and a third of FMLN supporters said they were on the left or extreme left. What was surprising was the finding that within all parties, the largest group described themselves as being moderate or centrist. Within the FMLN, 44.6% of respondents categorized themselves as center, center-left, or moderate-left, while 39.1% of ARENA respondents said they were center, center-right, or moderate-right. The magnitude of the shift towards center may be exaggerated by the self-reporting in the study (many people may not wish to think of or identify themselves as extreme) however, the trend may still be indicative of a broader shift among the population.