My former colleagues at the Universidad Diego Portales have released their annual public opinion poll, which this year has the added bonus of being a kind of pre-CEP, a kind of Golden Globes of the Chilean polling world.
And it's a whopper. Not only does it take the wind out of Marco Enriquez-Ominami's sails, saying that Frei would come in second in December's election, it also gives Frei a slight advantage over Piñera in the second round, 36.3% to 35.5%. This is, of course, within the margin of error.
The really interesting bits of the poll are in the details. They clearly show that among registered voters, Piñera's base of support is to be found, as they say in Chile, 'de Plaza Italia para arriba'. That is, Santiago-centered and middle to upper class. Frei's support, on the other hand, is stronger in the south of the country, and increases as income level drops.
One can read this in different ways. Some will argue that there are more middle to low-income voters than middle to high-income voters, giving Frei his slight advantage. Others will say that higher income voters are more likely to vote, but since in Chile voting is obligatory for registered voters, that seems irrelevant.
What strikes me, though, is how little ground Piñera has gained in all this time. With all the money in the world, with an exhausted Concertación, who has put forward a relatively weak candidate, Piñera is pretty much where he always was, and has the support of those he has always attracted. Even the UDI's extensive field work in popular sectors does not seem to be paying the dividends he might have wished for.
Assuming the poll is correct, and having worked with these people I have every reason to suppose that it is, this this is 40-love advantage Frei. And he has the serve.