University of Costa Rica presidential poll shows virtual tie between Araya and Villalta

The ruling party and their left-leaning opposition appear locked in a dead heat for the presidency with less than two months before the Feb. 2 election.

The University of Costa Rica publication, Semanario Universidad, released the latest poll showing Johnny Araya with 17.4 percent of the vote and José María Villalta with 15.7 percent.

Araya, the nominee for the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN) was the clear frontrunner in September and October, as polls showed only single-digit support for any of his opponents. Now, polls have shown a steady rise for Broad Front candidate José Villalta, who has advocated for a more left-of-center government.

Broad Front’s numbers have soared after capturing only 0.3 percent of the presidential vote in the 2010 election and only one of the 57 seats in the national legislature.

Undecided voters far outstripped any single candidate’s support at 29.7 percent, showing that the race could swing widely in any direction. The poll had a margin of error of 3.9 percent. The presidential election will feature a runoff between the top two candidates if no one succeeds in winning more than 40 percent of the vote.

Libertarian Party candidate, Otto Guevara remained in third place, capturing 10.4 percent of the votes in the latest poll. The center-left Citizen Action Party (PAC) candidate Luis Solís had 5.1 percent of the vote.

A second consistent storyline, which this most recent poll confirmed, is the collapse of support for one-time major party, the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC). Semanario Universidad put their nominee, Rodolfo Piza at 3.1 percent support. PUSC had won the presidency and the most seats in the legislature as recently as 2002, but has since fallen into minor party status. The latest blow was the October withdrawal of their presidential nominee Rodolfo Hernández, who attacked his party as corrupt.

The Semanario poll interviewed 635 people from Nov. 11 to the 21. The poll found that 71 percent of Costa Ricans said they intend to vote.

In addition they examined support for the legislature, which differed from presidential support. PLN had 15.4 percent support, Broad Front had 8.5 percent support. PAC had 6.1 percent support, PUSC had 5.3 percent support, and the Libertarian Party had 4.6 percent support.