New Voxpol survey says Prabowo is behind by just 5.5%

Prabowo Subianto. Photo: @Prabowo / Instagram
Prabowo Subianto. Photo: @Prabowo / Instagram

We’re just under a week off from Indonesia’s presidential election and the vast majority of recent polling still shows President Joko Widodo to have a commanding double-digit lead of 15-20% over challenger Prabowo Subianto. One exception to that was the “internal” polling data recently released by Prabowo’s campaign, which they claim shows the Gerindra chairman with a 24% lead (62% to 38%) over the incumbent.

While many observers have, understandably, voiced their doubts about that “internal” polling data, the latest results of a survey done by an, ostensibly, independent research group suggest the race may have tightened up significantly in recent weeks and the vote may be far closer than other pollsters are predicting.

Yesterday, the Voxpol Center Research and Consulting group released the results of a new survey asking respondents who they were planning to vote for next Wednesday. According to their data, President Jokowi is still in the lead with 48.8% but Prabowo is close behind with 43.3% with 7.9% still undecided.

“If the presidential election was held today, Jokowi would still be superior. But this result is still very competitive,” Voxpol executive director of Pangi Syarwi Chaniago said at a press conference in Cikini yesterday as quoted by Republika.

The survey was conducted from March 18 to April 1 in all 34 of Indonesia’s provinces with 1,600 respondents and has a margin of error of 2.45%.

Pangi said that part of the reason for Jokowi’s lower electability was due to his job satisfaction rating — according to the responses to another question from the same survey, 54% of respondents were satisfied with Jokowi’s job performance while 39% said they were unsatisfied. According to Pangi, if the job satisfaction rate is below 70% for the incumbent than they are probably in trouble.

Responding to a question about why his group’s survey data is so different from that of other pollsters, Pangi attributed it to Voxpol’s survey being the most recently done. He also argued that, while all survey groups did multi-random sampling, his group’s methodology was more accurate because their surveyors conducted face-to-face interviews (rather than using questionnaires) and went back to recheck their results with 20% of respondents as a form of quality control.

Voxpol has not conducted any other surveys this election season and thus we cannot compare their new data with their prior results. But here is data from seven more of the most recent polls:

Polmatrix Indonesia
March 20-25
Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin: 54.1%
Undecided / No answer: 11.9%

Center For Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
March 15-22
Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin: 51.4%
Undecided / No answer: 13.3%

Elections and Strategic (indEX) Research
March 11-20
Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin: 58.2%
Undecided / No answer: 8.3%

Charta Politika Indonesia
March 1-9
Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin: 53.6%
Undecided / No answer: 11%

Survei LSI Denny JA
March 18-26
Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin: 56.8-63.2%

Indo Barometer
March 15-21
Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin: 50.8%
Undecided / No answer: 17.2%.

Survei Alvara Research Center
February 22 – March 2
Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin: 53.9%
Undecided / No answer: 11.4%

The close consistency of those other seven surveys’ results would seem to be a strong indicator of their accuracy, but there is some chance that Voxpol’s data is indeed more accurate due to its recentness or methodology (many other pollsters were quite off in predicting the results of the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, for example).

We can’t really know until next Wednesday’s results start coming in, but, beyond the political horse race there are other implications to the election ending up with a narrow margin of votes between the two tickets — several members of Prabowo’s campaign have already begun warning about potential election fraud and even threatened to lead massive street protests should evidence of such fraud be found in the result.

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