It may be a statistically insignificant advantage, but it’s probably a source of private satisfaction to the breathlessly ambitious first lady.
A new M&R Consultants survey shows Rosario Murillo has nosed ahead of her husband by one-tenth of a percentage point to claim second place on Nicaragua’s tedious popularity poll, which relentlessly includes several figures who haven’t been seen in years, a clutch of folks who’d be better off fading into obscurity, and a guy who’s been dead for 32 years (and still ranks 18th on most popular list).
The national poll, which surveyed 1,600 voting-age Nicaraguans across the country, shows Nicaragua’s chatty first lady now enjoys a 74% favorability rating among the general population, while President Daniel Ortega nips at her heels with 73.9%.
Comfortably in first place is Nicaragua’s perennial favorite, National Police Chief Aminta Granera, with a robust 86.7% favorability polling. At the other end of the list is ex-con and former President Arnoldo Alemán, whose eternally jolly political presence is appreciated by only 16% of the population.
On the bright side, Alemán’s polling numbers are a whopping 10 points better than what he got in the 2011 presidential elections. On the other hand, Alemán is now less popular than former dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, who posthumously polls at 19% despite once being so unpopular he was run out of the country by a nationwide insurrection.
Murillo and Ortega Turn it Around
Rosario Murillo’s daily apparitions on her family’s TV channels appear to be having their desired effect on the populace. In 2008, Murillo’s approval rating was a basementish 14% and her disapproval rating was 46%. Four years later, 62.7% of the population now approves of the first lady and only 5% disapprove, according to M&R Consultants.
Ortega has also turned it around. After years of cohabitating the bottom of the popularity poll with Alemán and Somoza, now 58.7% of the population approves of Ortega’s job performance and only 16% disapprove (24% can’t make up their mind). That’s stunning rebound for a guy who four years ago had an 18% approval rating and 41% disapproval.
Additionally, 74.7% say Ortega’s government gives them hope, while 21.9% say they feel something closer to despair. Around 3% of those polled stared bewilderedly at an invisible spot in the middle distance and said they no longer know what they feel.
While unemployment and poverty are still people’s top two concerns, the numbers suggest folks are slightly less worried about the situation than they were before. Only 15.5% of the population said a member of their family has lost his or her job recently, compared to 41.6% who said the same thing three years ago.
Nicaraguans also seem to appreciate the fact that Ortega is a strong president. When asked who has the power in Nicaragua, 60% answered President Ortega, 16.6% said the “presidential couple,” 11% said the FSLN, and 5.7% said Rosario Murillo.
Despite Sandinista boilerplate about “el pueblo, presidente,” slightly less than 5% of the population—the exact same percentage of folks who belong to Sandinista Councils of Citizen Power (CPCs)—actually think el pueblo is calling the shots around here.
So while most folks apparently don’t put too much stock in Ortega’s central claim about his government’s exercise of power, most don’t seem to care either.