Artemio Lopez, one of the official pollsters for the Kirchners,
says that his latest poll in August gives Néstor
Kirchner 35% of the votes in Buenos Aires province, one of the
key battlegrounds, as it makes up 40% of the countrys
votes. The closest challenger, Ricardo Alfonsin, had 12%.
Kirchner would need to top 40% in the first round of voting
with at least a 10-point margin to avoid a runoff, where he is
most vulnerable. Asked why he polled Néstor Kirchner
rather than Fernández de Kirchner, he says:
Thats who the
government asked me to poll. Lopez adds that he thinks
the current president will step down in next years
elections and pass the baton back to her husband. He
wants to do it, says Lopez, who spent three hours with
Kirchner days before he was hospitalized for heart surgery in
September, and postop was one of his first visitors. The
pollster considers the changeover achievable.
Lopez acknowledges that the Kirchners have their work cut out
for them, saying that, there is a certain fatigue
factor. He adds that there are a lot of people who
do not like their style and form of governing. But there
is support for their policies, several of which enjoy backing
in the 7080% range, even though their approval as
politicians is in the 30s.
Most pollsters show that the Kirchners have recovered from
their lows last year, aided by the economy and a largely
dysfunctional opposition that has yet to come forward with a
leader. The Kirchners are desperate to stay in power in a way
that few others share; an intangible that cannot be
underestimated. For example, Carlos Reutemann, once thought to
be a strong opposition candidate, appears to be indifferent
about whether he even wants to be a contender.
Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri was once the politician most
feared by the Kirchners, according to Lopez. But Macri has now
been caught on two occasions travelling in Europe when major
crises in Buenos Aires have broken out, reinforcing the image
many have that he has been an ineffective mayor.
Analysts speculate that Ricardo Alfonsin, a national legislator
and son of Raul Alfonsin, Argentinas first president
after democracy was restored following the last dictatorship,
might run together with Hermes Binner, although it is unclear
which one would be first on the ticket. Binner has the
advantage that few opposition leaders have in that he is
actually in charge of something, one of the countrys most
important provinces, Santa Fe. He was the first member of the
Socialist Party to be elected governor of a province. Before
that he was mayor at Rosario, an important port city.
Binner has been less confrontational with the Kirchners than
other opposition leaders, and even supported them on some
measures, most notably last years media reform law that
sought to break up the countrys most powerful media
conglomerate, Clarin and escalated the war between the
Kirchners and Clarin. Binner polls poorly now (Alfonsin does
somewhat better) and having sided against Clarin may hurt him
with local media coverage. He is one of many who think that one
of the Kirchners biggest challenges may be in regaining
the lefts vote.