Two and a half million voters looking for a candidate, or an excuse

The first protagonists of an electoral race are the voters who have their preferred candidate well chosen: when we say that one of them has an advantage over the other, we are talking about the difference between citizens convinced by each of the alternatives. And when we talk about a tie, like the one reflected in the polls until the beginning of the ban on publishing more in Colombia, what we mean is that the number of persuaded is similar for both sides. At that moment the spotlight shifts, and we all turn to look at those who until now did not count, literally: voters without a declared candidate. In the Colombian presidential elections, if we assume a participation of 21 million, similar to the first round, the polls that show us the sum of blank and undecided votes would place it between 1.4 and 4.2 million. The average: just over 2.5.

These polls are forced to filter out likely voters early in their questionnaires, so they only focus on people with a high probability of going to the polls. Hence the relevance of (and also the uncertainty with) this data: it measures, eliminating those who have already declared that they will not go to vote, who of those who may go out to vote have not yet declared a specific candidate. In a tied election, those voters are everything.

To begin to better understand what moves this group, the first thing is to discard the concept of “undecided” as a synonym or definition. But also the “hidden vote” or “shameful”. And even those of “blank voter” or “abstentionist”. In fact, the most analytically fine-tuned thing would be to change those four closed boxes for options that each of these voters shuffles around in their heads, some being more likely than others.

Thus, more than people with complete indecision who see all the alternatives equally, or people who have fully made up their minds in their hearts but do not dare to say it in public, it is more common to find people who have a certain inclination for one of the candidates but is not entirely sure and doubts whether to give him his confidence, stay at home or cast a blank vote; or also to others with a certain preference in which that doubt is mixed with what they perceive as a social sanction in their environment. All of this seems more plausible (and is more frequent in empirical measurements of past elections both in Colombia and in the rest of the world) than the even doubt between two candidates, whether Rodolfo or Petro. Adding the ingredient of shame, if the context in which one moves is full of voters decided in one direction, it will cost them more to declare or even assume their own if it is the opposite. If, in fact, that context is more general (if there is some kind of generalized questioning about one of the candidates permeating the entire country), the doubt can be magnified and the timidity inside and outside can overflow the immediate, sneaking into the polls.

We would thus have those hundreds of thousands of people in a cloud of uncertainty that links indecision with shame, doubt with fear. This image would be more accurate than the one with the fixed labels of undecided, hidden, white or resigned: it fits better a choice between the first real possibility that the left has of coming to power in Colombia (and from the relative end of the spectrum! ideological, nothing less!) and the platform built around a candidate that few expected a month ago in the second round.

The next question is whether that cloud of uncertainty is symmetrical, or whether it falls more on one side or the other. More than the polls (which are not publishable in any case), it helps us to return to the results of the first round tied to a historical characterization of both candidates. Certainly, Petro’s victory would be an unusual novelty for the country, but neither his bet nor its strength is. He got 8.5 million votes on May 29, 500,000 more than in the second round of 2018. He has been campaigning constantly for four years. The context of inequality, economic crisis, institutional and social mobilization has favored him, if not to add, yes to not subtract an ounce. Also to keep his ranks tight and vocal regarding his preference: the polls were correct (if anything, slightly over-estimated) the percentage of the vote in the first round, and the same thing happened in 2018. Petro, we could say, is well calibrated both both by measurements and by society in general. Of the candidacies in first place, it can absorb the 800,000 of Sergio Fajardo and that part of the voters for Rodolfo who were launched more because of the novelty and the anti-establishment discourse than because of the ideological position that the former mayor of Bucaramanga represented but now They ask if Petro will not be a better option in that axis. There is not much reason to expect this second group to be too large: changing horses mid-race is cognitively very costly for anyone because it involves accepting a mistake just three weeks after making it. And the possible first-class abstentionists who go to the polls in the second will not be a majority either, because voters normally repeat between rounds.

On the other hand, however, there is a candidate with a lower starting vote (6 million) and the ability to absorb both of Fico Gutiérrez’s 5 million (who have no reason to think about choosing Petro given the huge difference ideological and country model) and Sergio Fajardo’s just under 900,000. However: he has carried out an erratic campaign, with little clarity in his message, both ideological and government powers beyond a diffuse anti-establishment message, and with a constant reminder of his new and old departures from the norm. established society. He was, moreover, a much less known and familiar person to national voters than Petro.

Therefore, it does not seem unreasonable to think that a majority of those million, two, three or even four non-aligned voters have the compass more inclined towards Hernández. But that does not mean that the newcomer has it easy. In fact, the very mass of doubt is the clearest possible sign that he has it harder than many, himself included, probably expected after the night of May 29. Even if the question is raised from the perspective of the hidden or shameful vote, it could be said that there were many voters looking for an excuse, any excuse, to vote for Rodolfo, and that a week before the final appointment, they have not had enough to declare your vote publicly. The tangle of uncertainty continues, and now each one will have to undo it in the intimacy of private reflection. The future of Colombia will depend on millions of these small decisions.

#million #voters #candidate #excuse

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.