Opinion polls have bad news for all

Political parties focus on their weak points as exposed by surveys; gov’t fears ‘lax’ voting in May

Opinion polls have bad news for all

As the election campaign heats up, political parties are poring over opinion polls, those made public and those privately commissioned, to calibrate their tactics.

Each party, and this includes the ruling center-right New Democracy, which has been leading steadily in opinion surveys, has found cause for anxiety in examining the data.

New Democracy officials are happy that the negative repercussions of the February 28 railway disaster seem to be wearing off. Most of the recent polls put ND about 5-6 points ahead of its main rival, left-wing SYRIZA. Ruling party officials also like to stress the fact that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has a distinct advantage over his rival, opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, among voters who identify as “centrist”: an opinion survey by research firm Metron Analysis, published last Sunday, showed 28.8% of those voters choosing New Democracy, while 13.9% preferred SYRIZA.

And, yet, ND officials fret that a perception of a relatively easy victory could either turn voters away from the ballot box or lead them to vote for a smaller party, knowing that a second election, which is considered a near certainty, would decide the outcome.

Another cause for concern for the conservatives is the attitude of the undecided voters: While a plurality doesn’t express a preference between the two biggest parties, among the rest, those who lean toward SYRIZA outnumber those leaning toward New Democracy by almost two to one. There is also a strong contingent of undecided voters tempted by the extreme right.

Mitsotakis keeps hammering the message that the first election will actually determine the winner of the second by establishing a momentum. Privately, ND officials hope for a first-round result above 33% that would provide a springboard to a parliamentary majority in the second election.

In the same Metron Analysis survey SYRIZA is leading New Democracy in the 17-26 age group (19.5% to 13%), the working class (20.3% to 12.6%) and the lower middle class (24.8% to 19.5%). But SYRIZA leaders are worried about the stagnation of the results, seemingly unable to go much higher than 26% in overall preferences. 

The socialists of PASOK think that their chances of breaking 10% are real, but are also concerned about their low numbers in the Attica region, where gains are hard to come by. 

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