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In early poll, former Olympian leads in Cuenca mayor’s race, centrist CREO party shows strength

In one of the first polls of Ecuador’s mid-term election, former Olympic gold medalist Jefferson Pérez leads incumbent Marcelo Cabrera in Cuenca’s mayoral race. Although Cabrera registers high approval ratings, Pérez holds a 22.6 percent to 15 percent lead in a “Click” poll conducted by Ecuador Inmediato.

Jefferson Perez after his gold medal run at the Atlanta Olympics.

Among the other top candidates for Cuenca mayor, Azuay Prefect Paúl Carrasco polled 12.6 percent while National Assemblyman Esteban Bernal was at 9.5 percent.

In the race to replace Carrasco as prefect, Azuay Governor Xavier Enderica led all candidates with 16.8 percent.

In numbers that might foretell trouble for President Lenin Moreno, the conservative-centrist CREO political party was running neck-in-neck with Moreno’s Alianza Pais, trailing in popularity by less than one percent.

Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera

“These are early numbers and it would be a mistake to predict a definite trend but they do tell us a few things,” said Inmediato director Francis Romero. “The strong showing of CREO is an indication that centrist candidates could do well in this election, not only in Cuenca and Azuay Province, but around the country. They also tell us that Guillermo Lasso is well-positioned to challenge President Moreno in two years.”

Romero said the fact that Pérez, Ecuador’s only Olympic gold medal winner, polled ahead of Cabrera is a surprise. “Mayor Cabrera received a positive approval rating and has a long track record not only in his current term but in his previous term as mayor. Of course, Jefferson has the advantage of being the outsider with no previous political record and this works to his advantage.”

Romero said early polling in Quito and Guayaquil also show that incumbents may be in trouble and that CREO will probably make gains in the local and regional election scheduled for February.