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Polls show continuing statistical dead heat in Costa Rica’s presidential runoff

March 6, 2018

Former Cabinet minister Carlos Alvarado and his opponent, the evangelical preacher and former legislator Fabricio Alvarado, are neck-and-neck in some just one month before the second round of elections, according to a poll published Tuesday.

The poll, from the University of Costa Rica’s Center for Research and Political Studies (UCR-CIEP), shows Carlos Alvarado at 41 percent versus 39 percent for Fabricio Alvarado (no relation) among eligible voters who plan to head to the polls on April 1.

A remaining 20 percent of those who plan to vote are still undecided. In total, those consulted in the poll who say they plan to vote make up 67 percent of the total sample, with the remaining 33 percent intending to stay at home.

Pollsters consulted 1,028 people between Feb. 27-28, with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

Fabricio Alvarado, a 43-year-old journalist and preacher, represents the conservative National Restoration Party (PRN). Carlos Alvarado, a 38-year-old journalist and political scientist, is the candidate of the official Citizen Action Party (PAC, center left).

CIEP’s poll on Feb. 14 showed Fabricio with a slight advantage (45 percent versus 42 percent), although still within the margin of error. In the new poll, the evangelical candidate had lost six percentage points, while PAC candidate dropped by one point.

The variation coincided with the PRN candidate’s decision not to participate in some of the planned debates and to cancel interviews with the media.

Overall, Fabricio Alvarado registers more support from people in the coastal areas, people with lower levels of educational attainment, people who participate in religious activities, and women.

Carlos Alvarado shows more support from young people and people older from 55 years old, men, people with higher education, and residents of the cities of Costa Rica’s Central Valley.

In the first round of voting, held Feb. 4,  the PRN candidate won 24.9 percent of the vote, versus 21.63 for the PAC.

Both candidates showed a huge surge during the final weeks before the first round. Fabricio Alvarado had 3 percent of the vote with just weeks to go, but surged to first place after he announced that if elected, he would withdraw Costa Rica from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in response to the ruling in favor of same sex marriage.

Carlos Alvarado also started with a low level of support, around 6 percent, and rose in the final stretch by capturing part of the support from undecided voters.

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