A public-opinion poll released last week shows President Daniel Ortega enjoys enormous levels of popular support, with 64% of the population saying he is doing either a “good” or “very good,” and a whopping 70-80% saying they approve of nearly all his government programs.
The poll, of course, was conducted by the Sandinista media outlets Channel 4 TV and Radio Ya, which – as statistical probability would have it – also found that the official government media is the most popular and trustworthy in the country because it best represents the interests of the poor.
In contrast to Ortega’s glowing Sandinista survey results, the most recent CIDGallup poll suggests that only 20% of Nicaraguans say Ortega is doing a “good” or “very good” job as president. In fact, the CIDGallup poll ranks Ortega last among all Central American presidents.
CID-Gallup poll co-founder Carlos Denton scoffed at the Ortega poll. “That Mr. Ortega and his wife decided to produce some of their own data is not surprising, but I don’t think many will believe (these) types of things …Politicians have been inventing biased surveys for years.”
The Sandinista poll released last week surveyed 1,800 Managuas on 130 questions ranging in topic from support for the “simple and popular manner” of Ortega’s dress, to the best way to deal with the obvious corruption by his political opponents.
Many questions were leading: “Do you believe the right wing has tried to distort [Ortega’s] message of commitment to the poor through an ill-intentioned campaign?”
Other questions, meanwhile, appeared outright confrontational: “Some Nicaraguan politicians assured during the elections that under a Sandinista government Nicaragua would enter again into war or conflict with the United States and implement the military draft and there would be economic chaos. Evidently that hasn’t been true. Do you still think that’s going to happen?”
Oddly enough, some questions almost rhetorical in nature seemed to divide the jury. For example, this question seemed like a no-brainer: “President-Comandante Daniel always refers in his discourses to his commitment to improving the lives of the poor. Does that message seem correct to you?” Yet, only 42% answered “yes,” while 34% said “no,” which for a country where 80% of the population lives in poverty doesn’t seem to make mathematical sense.
Also noteworthy was the fact that of the 28 specific government programs mentioned in polling questions, the one that received the lowest levels of support was the Councils of Citizen Power. Better known as CPCs, the citizen councils are Sandinista community organizations that have been created across the country as the cornerstone of the Ortega government’s new model of government, or “direct democracy.”
Yet only 54% of those polled said they were in favor of the CPCs, which could be spun as a majority approval but it’s considerably less than the 75-80% approval rating claimed for all its other government programs.
The lengthy poll also ends on somewhat of a curious note when, after already establishing that 64% of the population thinks Ortega is doing a good job as president, pushes the issue by rephrasing the last question in an attempt to end on a high note: “Do you approve of the national and international leadership of President-Comandante Daniel Ortega?”
The enthusiasm of those surveyed seemed to dip a bit, perhaps due to shear exhaustion after answering 130 questions. Only 45% answered “yes,” while 33% said “no.”