The rising aura of Argentina's peculiar Libertarian Congressman Javier Milei took a turn downwards following his statements about opening up the sale of human organs because it was a market just like any other, a nationwide survey by the consulting firm Zuban Córdoba y Asociados has shown.
For the consultant Gustavo Córdoba, this increase of rejection and the fall of adherents occur in a very short time, perhaps associated with the lack of a coherent narrative with the debate of this time and as a sign of the limits of amateurism and lack of professionalism with which he manages his campaign.
It is clear that Milei's attraction is not his ideas, but the communicational packaging: he is still the same TV panelist who has been catalyzing the failure of two governments for two years and capitalizes on people's anger with the leadership, not with the system. That visibility that led him to split the electoral scenario in three also exposed his limitations, he added.
Milei used to have a 37.6% positive image in September. Then it climbed to 47.3% in March and 47.7% in April. In May it fell to 41.2%, while his negative image went from 47.8% in September to 41.1% and 40.3% in March and April, rising to 51.4% in May.
It is the first time that the 2023 presidential hopeful's image has fallen. He already had negative differentials, but never had his negative image exceeded the 50% threshold.
Electoral rejection is key for politicians, strategists, and analysts because it sets a ceiling in case of a runoff. This ceiling, according to specialists, is what led Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) not to head a ticket in 2019. The same study measuring Milei's setback has also revealed six other likely candidates have a negative image bigger than she has.
Back to Milei's case, there is a distancing or open rejection of a sector that had set its sights on Milei, who had been attracted by this powerful packaging from the communicational point of view, after phrases that show him as he is and that are extemporaneous to the political debate, Córdoba stressed.
The drop is consistent with the most unfortunate phrases uttered by Milei in the last weeks, at the peak of his popularity, including the one in which he described the sale of human organs as just another market.
How far is that from returning to slavery? a Buenos Aires bypasser told MercoPress. After all, slaves would be the package in which those organs are marketed, he added.
Still, Milei's overly unfettered speech affected both major political forces in the country. Paola Zuban, also a partner of the consulting firm, had warned weeks ago that the tension that Milei provokes with the democratic system would play against him because one of the few great consensuses in Argentina is that the democratic system should prevail.
Córdoba was the pollster who most accurately predicted the 2019 primaries (PASO), where most other polls failed. The study released over the weekend was carried out between May 23 and 31 among 2,000 cases, with a +/- 2.19% margin of error.
Among its conclusions were that 68.5% disapprove of the national government's management, 71.8% believed the country was going in the wrong direction, and President Alberto Fernández has a 71.1% negative image.
Regarding the 2023 presidential campaign, the survey was focused on the principle I would never vote for him/her in an attempt to have a clearer picture of what a second round would look like.
From a positive angle, 34.3% preferred a new political party or front to govern, which was read as a sign for Milei; 31.2% would rather have the Macrist ”Juntos por el Cambio (JxC) return to power; and 30.6% would remain loyal to the Peronist Frente de Todos (FdT).
Younger voters are the ones most interested in a change to the political status quo. Among those aged 16 to 30, 53.6% would rather see new faces in Congress and at Casa Rosada.
Then the report delves into electoral floors, ceilings, and rejection. In other words: sure votes, probable votes and I would never vote for him/her.
In the latter category, which effectively measures a candidate's chances in a runoff, Alberto Fernández topped the list with 68.2%, former Vice President Daniel Scioli 67.4%, Córdoba Governor Juan Schiaretti 67.1%, Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales 66.4%, Lower House Speaker Sergio Massa 66.2%, CFK 63.1%, former Economy Minister (under CFK) and current opposition Senator Martín Lousteau 58.7%, former Buenos Aires Governor María Eugenia Vidal 58.2%, Interior Minister Wado de Pedro 57.3%, former Peronist Senator and JxC Vice-Presidential candidate Miguel Pichetto 57.2%, Milei 54.2%, Mauricio Macri 52.8%, Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta 51.6%, JxC Deputy Facundo Manes 50.5% and PRO Chairwoman Patricia Bullrich 46.7%.
In this scenario, the former president would perform better than most candidates from within Peronism. She also has the highest floor: 29.2% of sure votes, while Bullrich was the only politician the study showed to have an I would never vote for him/her image below 50%.