Ganjar, Prabowo locked in tight race, polls show

As none of the three presumptive candidates currently commands a majority in public opinion polling, observers predict a two-round presidential election.

Yerica Lai

Yerica Lai

The Jakarta Post


Surakarta Mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka (right), chats with (left to right) Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir at the lounge of Adi Soemarmo Airport in Boyolali, Central Java, on July 24, 2023. PHOTO; ANTARA/ PRESS BUREAU OF PRESIDENTIAL SECRETARIAT/ THE JAKARTA POST

August 24, 2023

JAKARTA – Presumptive presidential nominee and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has regained a small lead over his rival Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto in public opinion polls that simulate a three-way contest, but the two figures remained locked in a tight race.

In a survey released by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) on Wednesday, Ganjar of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) inched ahead of Gerindra Party chair Prabowo in an imagined three-way race.

Presented with the choice of Ganjar, Prabowo and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, 35.9 percent of respondents favored Ganjar, up 5.1 percentage points from his July figure. Meanwhile, Prabowo’s favorability decreased 4.2 percentage points to 33.6 percent, and Anies Baswedan remained in third place, with a slight drop from 21.2 percent to 20.4 percent favorability.

In a two-way matchup, however, the survey found that Prabowo would defeat Ganjar by a margin of 3 percentage points.

“From the results of this survey, it can be concluded that Ganjar and Prabowo are competing neck and neck, and both of them would have had a significant edge over Anies if the election was held when the survey was conducted,” SMRC research director Deni Irvani said.

The survey was based on in-person interviews with 4,260 respondents of voting age nationwide from July 31 to Aug. 11 and had a margin of error of 1.55 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

Ganjar saw his support dip in April after he lent his voice to the PDI-P’s opposition to the Israeli national team’s participation in the U-20 World Cup, a controversy that resulted in FIFA stripping Indonesia of its license to host the event.

Prabowo, who is perceived as occupying a middle ground between Ganjar and Anies, then took the lead in most opinion polls.

Ganjar is generally seen as a continuity candidate who will uphold President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s policies, and Anies is seen as the President’s political antithesis.

As none of the three presumptive candidates currently commands a majority in public opinion polling, observers predict a two-round presidential election. The runoff vote would be held on June 26, 2024.

SMRC’s latest poll was consistent with a survey released by Kompas earlier this week as well as one released by Indikator Politik last week. Both found that Ganjar had retaken the lead in a three-way race. The Kompas survey found that Ganjar would lose to Prabowo in a one-on-one contest by 5.8 percentage points, and Indikator Politik found he would lose by 7.4 percentage points.

Some 69.9 percent of Anies supporters would support Prabowo if their favored candidate left the race, the Kompas survey found, causing Prabowo’s higher one-on-one polling figures.

The PDI-P welcomed the rebound in Ganjar’s electability, saying it was optimistic that he would win a majority in the February 2024 presidential election. Such a result would preclude a runoff vote.

“We are fully aware that if we go head to head [with Prabowo], Ganjar still has a 5 to 7 percent gap. We can overcome that. […] We will make various efforts to increase Ganjar’s electability in places where support for Ganjar is still not significant,” PDI-P executive Said Abdullah said on Tuesday.

The Gerindra Party, meanwhile, has praised Prabowo as a “unifying figure”.

“Prabowo is a figure that can be accepted by the grassroots of other presidential candidates. This is in line with Prabowo’s commitment to always push for national unity,” Gerindra deputy chairman Habiburokhman said on Monday.

“In the future we will continue to push for a politics of unity and togetherness. Apart from electoral interests, we will continue to prioritize national interests, because our nation will only progress if political forces are united,” he said.

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