Daniel Ortega continues to enjoy a cushy approval rating in the eighth consecutive year of his second presidency, according to an M&R Consultants poll released this week.
The survey, which collected data from face-to-face polling of 1,600 Nicaraguans across the country, shows Ortega still has a 65% approval rating among all voters. Those who identify as Sandinistas support the president with an 82% approval rating, but his approval ratings are also high among independents (44%) and members of the opposition (30%).
The poll shows that Ortega’s approval ratings have not changed significantly over the past year, and remain remarkably improved from four or five years ago. At the end of 2009, Ortega’s approval rating among all Nicaraguans was less than half (25.8%), while only 7% of independents and 2% of the opposition supported the president. Since then Ortega has elevated his approval ratings among all demographics, including Sandinistas.
The poll also shows solid support for the president’s social programs, especially among Sandinista party sympathizers who have benefited to greater extent from the government handouts, according to the survey results.
Some 57% of Nicaraguans identify as members of President Ortega’s political party, while 35% identify as independents and 8% still admit to openly supporting the remnants of one of the opposition parties. None of the party affiliation numbers has changed significantly since the last elections in December 2011, according to M&R’s comparative polling data.
The president also continues to make new friends with his high likability numbers. Before returning to the presidency, Ortega, not known for his charisma, occupied the cellar of M&R’s popularity polls for many lonely years. But now that he’s back on top, he’s apparently a much more agreeable chap. More than 77% of Nicaraguans say Ortega is downright likable, ranking him third in the national popularity poll behind perennial frontrunner Aminta Granera, head of the National Police, and winsome first lady Rosario Murillo.
Perhaps the most curious statistic in the entire M&R Consultants poll is the one that shows that 7.3% of Nicaraguans still don’t know who Daniel Ortega is, after nearly 35 years of being in power or running for president. While Ortega still has a chance to reach out to those uniformed voters before his 2016 and 2021 reelection campaigns, the fact that 7 out of 100 voters are completely unfamiliar with the Sandinista caudillo raises all sorts of existential questions: Can anyone really know the who the president is? Can we ever know anything? And what does likability really mean in a universe made of stardust?