Thursday, June 02, 2011

Thoughts on the Peru election

A few general thoughts on the Peru election:

First, we need to be careful about claiming a tightening race means much more than that close races tend to tighten as election day nears (presidential races in the United States, for example, often tighten).  On this point, see Otto's post about a risk group's (Eurasia) take on the tightening, which I would argue is little better than flipping a coin.

Second, much has been made of undecideds, as if they could really go either way.  This is debatable.  In the U.S., for example, there is ample evidence that most undecideds or self-proclaimed independents lean very definitely Republican or Democrat.  In the Peruvian case, these candidates are very far apart ideologically, and Peru is a very unequal country, so it is difficult to see too many people feeling genuinely undecided.  It is more likely that they are leaning, but choosing not to say which way.

Third, there is a broad assumption that poorer people will vote for Humala and those with more money will vote for Fujimori, but it is hard to predict who might simply spoil their ballot (in Peru, voting is compulsory so it is more likely to see spoiled ballots than abstention).  Jo-Marie Burt and Coletta Youngers argue that the current number is 7-12%.  That is a significant percentage, but it is hard to tell whether it favors one side or the other (or neither).

What does all this mean?  The unremarkable conclusion that it is a toss-up.


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