Poll: Niinistö’s lead narrows; Haavisto and Väyrynen in dead-heat for second place
The Centre Party’s Paavo Väyrynen and Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto are running neck-and-neck for second place in the upcoming presidential election. A fresh poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by TNS Gallup gives both candidates 17 per cent support for the first round of the elections.
The lead of the front-runner, the National Coalition Party’s Sauli Niinistö, has narrowed to 39 per cent of those giving an answer. In a poll taken in late December Niinistö was still getting 48 per cent support.
The data for the study is exceptionally fresh. The first interviews were conducted on Wednesday last week and the last answers came on Sunday. Advance voting had already started when the poll was taken.
Support for Haavisto has nearly doubled since late December, when he was getting nine per cent. Väyrynen’s popularity has also increased considerably.
The decline in support for the advance favourite Niinistö follows a pattern established in the previous presidential elections six years ago, notes Juhani Pehkonen of TNS Gallup.
Pehkonen observes that the last opinion polls before the 2006 elections gave incumbent president Tarja Halonen more than 50 per cent support, but this went down to 43 per cent in the first round of the actual election.
The latest poll puts the other five candidates well behind the top three. Timo Soini of The Finns Party is getting nine per cent, the Left Alliance’s Paavo Arhinmäki and the Social Democrats’ Paavo Lipponen are tied at six per cent, the Christian Democrats’ Sari Essayah is getting three per cent, and the Swedish People’s Party’s Eva Biaudet is getting two per cent.
The proportion of undecided voters is considerable - 14 per cent. A new category in the poll consists of those who did not want to voice their opinion: they number 17 per cent. They include some who have already cast ballots in advance voting.
There is also a fairly large proportion those who say that they have basically made up their minds but who might reconsider their choice.
Of all of those who voiced an opinion, 56 per cent were fully committed to their candidate. In 2006, the figure was 68 per cent.
Paavo Lipponen’s supporters were the most unwavering, with 67 per cent saying that their choice was certain. The least certain were the supporters of Eva Biaudet, only 40 per cent of whom said that their choice was certain. With Pekka Haavisto the figure was 49 per cent.
Pehkonen says that uncertainty could be boosted by the fact that there is no incumbent candidate this time around.
Young voters are the most likely to waver. Only 40 per cent of young voters are certain that they would end up supporting the candidate that they are leaning toward.
Niinistö is the candidate inspiring the greatest support among the party faithful, with 87 per cent of those who normally support the National Coalition Party backing the party’s official candidate.
Only 37 per cent of Social Democratic Party voters support their party’s candidate Paavo Lipponen, while 28 per cent of SDP voters support Niinistö and 17 per cent back Haavisto.
Among supporters of the Centre Party, 72 per cent support Väyrynen, their party’s candidate, while 21 per cent say that they will vote for Niinistö.
The poll shows sharp differences between men and women, with 43 per cent of women and 36 per cent of men supporting Sauli Niinistö.
Haavisto is getting the support of 24 per cent of women and just 10 per cent of men. Väyrynen is getting the support of 22 per cent of men.
Niinistö gets his highest figures from voters over the age of 64, while Haavisto does best among voters under 35.
In a possible second round, Sauli Niinistö would be the clear winner.
According to the fresh Helsingin Sanomat poll, Niinistö would get at least 60 per cent of the vote if he were pitted against either Paavo Väyrynen, Pekka Haavisto, or Paavo Lipponen.
Väyrynen and Haavisto would do best against Niinistö, getting 22 per cent and 21 per cent respectively, with both figures within the margin of error.
Some respondents did not give an opinion, or said that they would abstain in a second round.
Previously in HS International Edition:
YLE presidential election poll shows Haavisto rising to second place (9.1.2012)
Poll: Haavisto rising, Niinistö falling but still front-runner (3.1.2012)