San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica's Unity party plummets in latest poll as the race for the runoff heats up

The Social Christian Unity Party’s (PUSC) poll numbers are stinging from Dr. Rodolfo Hernández’s flip-flop resignation earlier this month, while the race for second place behind National Liberation Party (PLN) candidate Johnny Araya is neck-and-neck, Semanario Universidad reported on Wednesday.

But with four months remaining until the Feb. 2, 2014 election, and with more than 47 percent of respondents claiming they’re undecided, the election is still anyone’s race.

The University of Costa Rica’s Center for Political Studies and Investigation (CIEP) released its latest voter poll Wednesday morning, showing that many candidates have gobbled up the votes left behind by Hernández, who left the race for good on Oct. 9.

Support for the PUSC dropped from 12.9 percent from CIEP’s August survey to 3 percent in October, when Ticos were asked for whom they would vote if the election were held today.

Libertarian Movement Party candidate Otto Guevara and leftist Broad Front Party candidate José María Villalta both significantly raised their support from 1.4 percent and 4.5 percent in August, respectively, to a close race at 9.9 and 9.7 percent.

Citizen Action Party candidate Luis Guillermo Solís has stalled at 4.2 percent, compared to 4.1 percent two months ago. Meanwhile, Araya rose 4 points from 20.2.

“It seems a little exaggerated to me that there would be a drop of this magnitude; there are many people who continue to identify as Social Christians,” Piza told Universidad Semanario, noting that he had only started his campaign on Oct. 12.

“It’s normal that there would be a drop, but I’m convinced that party loyalty will hold and that we are the party of second preference for Costa Ricans,” he added, referencing years past when the PUSC and PLN formed a de facto two-party system.

Araya said he is glad that his polling numbers had not slipped and that his lead was proof he is the Costa Rican people’s preference.

“The two candidates that are fighting for second place don’t reach me combining their votes, which makes me think there is a robust trend in favor of my candidacy,” the PLN candidate said.

But Araya doesn’t have the presidency in the bag yet. In Costa Rica, presidential candidates must win at least 40 percent of the first-round vote to avoid a runoff race with the second place finisher.

The survey also noted that 79 percent of Ticos say they don’t belong to a political party. 

CIEP said the poll has a +/- 4.46 percent margin of error.

Pollsters surveyed 457 Costa Ricans over the age of 18 between Oct. 14 and 19. Sixty-two percent of people called at home on a landline answered the surveyors’ questions.

Candidates looking to improve their ratings will have their chance Wednesday afternoon as they meet for their first debate at the National University in Heredia, north of San José.

Follow updates on the debate at 


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