Imagine a general election in a country where:
- More people think that the right-wing opposition party would have done a worse job compared to the current government than think it would have done better.
- Only 11% of those polled think that this opposition party has done a good job of opposition to the government.
- The governing party attracts more ideological sympathy than the opposition.
- The candidate of the governing party has a higher approval rating than the opposition leader.
- Only 16% of those questioned situate themselves on the right of the political spectrum as opposed to 34% who position themselves on the left.
And, finally....this same opposition party has a lead in the polls of 16.69%!
This is the great paradox of the major pre-election opinion poll in Spain carried out by the CIS. A lead greater than almost any other opinion poll for a candidate and a party that inspire little confidence even amongst their loyal voters. The answer to this is perhaps not that difficult to find, almost 90% of those polled regard the current economic situation in Spain as bad or very bad, and this translates into the mother of all punishments for the incumbents. Bill Clinton's people had a phrase for it.
The best hope for the PSOE with less than 2 weeks to go before voting on November 20th lies with the 31% of those who say they haven't yet made their minds up. Many of those could well be disillusioned PSOE supporters who are not prepared to vote for the Partido Popular but not yet motivated enough to come out for Rubalcaba. If the PP maintain this poll lead on election day then they will have an absolute majority even bigger than that achieved by Aznar in 2000. It's unlikely that the PP once in power will ponder too much on the origin of their votes, experience tells us that they assume a majority in parliament to mean popular support for anything they might choose to do, no matter how out of step their ideological positions are with much of Spanish society.
The CIS poll is of additional interest for its predictions on how well some of the smaller parties will do. Izquierda Unida are predicted to get 5 seats, and their former allies of Iniciativa in Cataluña to get 3. It doesn't sound like much but remember they only had 2 between them in the last parliament. A genuinely big change could take place in the Basque Country where the new nationalist coalition of Amaiur is challenging the hegemony of the PNV for the nationalist vote. CIS puts them equal on 3 seats each, and it's worth bearing in mind that the polling data precedes ETA's recent declaration of a definitive end to violence. The other relative newcomers of UPyD are predicted to increase their presence from 1 to 3 members of parliament, all of these being elected in their natural base of Madrid.