October 07, 2014

Elections 2014: On Preferences, Voting Intentions and Polls

MABB ©

As fun exercise I have been collecting (and updating) prediction polls in the Bolivian electoral process. Though everyone is pretty much sure Evo Morales will win the elections, I would like to think it is interesting (at the very least fun) to take a look at the trends and guess what they might or might not say about who will win and/or whether there will be a second round or not. I have to say, the Brazilian results have given me some inspiration to bring this post to an end.

During this electoral period, which has been in my opinion weird because of the quiet campaigns and the timid media coverage, three polling companies have conducted voter opinion polls at the request of different media. As the first polls came out, I posted a few of them just to have them in one place. Throughout the months that followed, I kept collecting the few polls that were published. It has not been that much, I have to say. Nevertheless, below you will find, whatever has been published, though I am sure is not a complete set. 

The fact that I put them together does not mean they are comparable. Most polls, if considered generally, are a bit confusing. Most make use of a different methodology and, in consequence, they deliver different numbers, which may lead to different interpretations. For example, some make a difference between intention of voting and preference for a candidate and others conflate these two. Yet others formulate questions less accurately.

At the risk of showing something irrelevant and due to a lack of polling numbers in these elections, I decided to follow the polls anyways and see if they have something interesting to say.

Clearly, they are less informative than the ones we had in prior general elections.

In the following table you will see the polling companies, the dates of the polls, the names of the candidates, and the poll results in percentage of the electorate.



Evo (MAS)
Samuel (UD)
Tuto (PDC)
Juan (MSM)
Fernando (PV)
Undecided
Tal Cual for Los Tiempos (July 20)
44
19.3
7.3
4.8
0.4
24
Ipsos for ATB (2 to 18 July)
41
9
2
2
2

Captura Consulting for Poder y Placer (eje central)
50.2
24.4
4.6
5.8
0.7
14.2
Mori
for El Deber
(July 19 and 28)
52
15
4
4
0.5
12
Mori for El Deber (5 and 23 Aug)
56
17
6
3
0.4
10
Tal Cual for Los Tiempos
(23 and 24
August)
50.2
19.1
9.1
2.7
0.2
11.3
Mori for El Deber (18 to 29 Sept)
59
18
9
3
2

Ipsos for PAT and ATB (8 and 23 Sept)
59
13
8
3
1


If a trend is a prediction then the following graph suggests what we already think we know, i.e. Evo Morales will win Sunday's general elections. The graph displays the average percentage of support per month.

Own elaboration


As the graph suggests, Morales has been increasing its large lead in the polls. While in July he led with around 30 percentage points, his lead in September has increased to somewhat over 40 per cent. That is a large lead. In addition, it has been predicted in September he will have gathered around 59 per cent support among the voting population. The candidate who has been following him from far is Samuel Doria. However, it seems Doria has not been able to maintain the support it had. In fact, he seems to have lost support from almost 20 per cent in August to somewhere around 16 per cent in September. The third in the race, Tuto Quiroga, seems to have made the most improvement, however he has not left the single digits. One thing I have to point out is that the undecided line in the graph does not have much meaning because I have no data for September. That is the reason why it goes to zero. Careful, it does not mean there is not undecideds any more. It simply means I do not have date for that month.

Does this seem Evo Morales is heading towards his third consecutive presidential period? It surely seems that way. After all, the new constitution says a candidate wins an election if he or she gets 50 per cent + 1 of the vote or 40 per cent with a difference of at least 10 per cent with the next most voted candidate. If he does not fulfill these criteria, he would have to face the second most voted candidate in a second round election. So the conditions for his win are given. However, if the recently past Brazilian elections are any kind of indication, the Bolivian outcome may possibly not be that easy. Though a significant gap to close, and if so it would be very close to a miracle, the final vote might end up sending Morales and a second contender to a second round. I think, this is what the Bolivian opposition is wishing itself right now.

What I think the most important issue is, is another one. Morales has been confidently expecting to win this election as well. I have speculated on the reasons why in other posts. What he has been asking his supporters all along is to help him achieve the 2/3 control of the assembly, which would mean a blank check from the electorate in favor of Morales. What he is looking in the end, and forgive me if I go very speculative, is the means to be able to reform the constitution so he can stay in power indefinitely. I think that is Morales' goal this time and not merely winning the elections. But that is just me.

Note:
You can find the latest polls in rar format in the electoral agency's web site. Other polls you can find in this web site, which I think is also from the government.


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