According to three polling organizations, half of Ecuador’s electorate are unsure of which presidential candidate they will support in Ecuador’s February 9 election.
The number of undecided voters in the three polls, Cedatos-Gallup, Asociados, and Blasco Peñaherrera, range from 44% to 57%.
“This is an alarming number given that we are only two months from voting day,” says Natalia Sierra, a political science professor at Quito’s Catholic University. She says that, in previous election cycles, the majority of voters had made up their minds by this point.
Although the polls are restricted by law from releasing full data on individual candidate rankings, they all agree that that former Vice President Lenin Moreno leads the field of eight candidates and that second-place candidate and Guayaquil banker Guillermo Lasso is gaining ground. Two of the polls show Moreno losing support while all three show Lasso moving up. Moreno, is a center-leftist and member of President Rafael Correa’s Alianza País party, while Lasso is a pro-business center-rightist.
In addition to Moreno and Lasso, two other candidates remain in serious contention, according to the three polls Cynthia Viteri (center right) and Paco Moncayo (left).
Representatives from the polling organizations agree that the widening Petroecuador bribery scandal is hurting Moreno. “The investigation keeps expanding and is dominating the news and this is not good for País or Moreno,” says Sierra. “This will probably weigh on his campaign until election day,” she adds.
Although Moreno has no connection to the scandal, his running mate Jorge Glas, who is the current vice president, does. Although allegations of direct involvement in the case have not been proven, one of Glas´ roles as vice president is oversight of Petroecuador.
Poll results released before current restrictions went into affect showed Moreno leading all candidates with support ranging from 28% to 37%, with a lead of 5% to 13% over Lasso.
Under Ecuadorian law, the top presidential candidate must receive a majority of the vote or 40% with a 10% lead over the second-place candidate to avoid a run-off election. Most political analysts — 77% in a survey taken last week by a Quito newspaper — believe there will be a run-off.