President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo maintains a comfortable lead over Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto coming into the final stretch of the 2019 presidential election, recent polls have indicated.
Since the presidential tickets were officially announced in August 2018, most polls have put Jokowi at an electability rate of around 53 to 60 percent, while Prabowo has languished in the mid-30s.
Jokowi won the 2014 election by 6.2 percentage points, but his lead over Prabowo has seemingly increased significantly since then. December surveys conducted by Jakarta-based pollsters Indikator Politik Indonesia and Charta Politika have Jokowi up by 20.1 and 19.1 percentage points, respectively.
The most recent poll, released by Australian market research company Roy Morgan on Friday, found that the Jokowi-Ma’ruf Amin pair was leading at 58 percent while the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno pair was at 42 percent.
“The strong performance of the Indonesian economy over the last five years and the exceptional confidence expressed by everyday Indonesians over the last year are certainly strong pointers to the success of President Jokowi’s political leadership heading toward the April presidential election,” Roy Morgan chief executive officer Michele Levine said in a press statement.
Levine added that Jokowi was particularly strong in rural areas in Central Java, East Java, and Bali, as well as northern Sumatra.
Several polls also indicate that the Jokowi-Ma’ruf ticket has made inroads in Prabowo strongholds such as Banten and West Java, which the former general won by 19.6 and 14.2 percentage points in 2014, respectively.
Jokowi campaign chairman Erick Thohir said he was confident the President would win West Java and keep it close in Banten.
Charta Politika executive director Yunarto Wijaya said Jokowi’s choice of Muslim cleric Ma’ruf Amin as a running mate had been effective in countering the perception that Jokowi was “anti-Islam” in the two provinces, which are considered among the most religiously conservative in the country.
“Although Ma’ruf doesn’t provide much of an electoral incentive, his presence does help in minimizing the attacks against Jokowi,” he told The Jakarta Post recently.
He added that the Jokowi team as a whole had also been more aggressive in fighting back against “hoaxes” and attacks that cast aspersions on his Muslim credentials.
Jokowi-Ma’ruf campaign team secretary Hasto Kristiyanto said the ticket’s electability spiked after the second presidential debate last month.
Jokowi campaign spokesperson and Indonesia Solidarity Party (PSI) secretary-general Raja Juli Antoni said the campaign was happy about the survey results but that it would not be complacent in the lead-up to election day.
“We hope that Pak Jokowi’s supporters do not become overly confident and get caught off-guard,” he told the Post on Monday. “In these last 40 days, it’s time for everyone to band together and ensure that Jokowi-Ma’ruf wins at every polling station across Indonesia.”
He added that the campaign was also looking at several swing provinces.
Fellow Jokowi campaign spokesperson and PSI legislative hopeful Rian Ernest said the ticket’s lead was the result of Jokowi’s “optimism, experience and proven work”.
“Everyone must go into the field and make blusukan [impromptu visits] to convince people to elect a good person as the next president,” he said.
The Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team, however, contested the accuracy of the survey results, saying that its own internal polls indicated the race was much closer.
“Our internal surveys show that Jokowi-Ma’ruf’s electability is trending downward while Prabowo-Sandi is trending upward due largely to Pak Sandiaga’s campaigning,” Prabowo campaign spokesperson and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) executive Suhud Aliyudin told the Post. “The difference is not too large and the race will likely be decided by swing voters.”
Gerindra politician and fellow Prabowo campaign spokesperson Andre Rosiade echoed Suhud’s comments, suggesting that the Jokowi team should just stop campaigning if they were confident the gap was so large.
“We can only laugh [at the poll results],” he said. “We have our own numbers and we are not worried. We will ramp up our door-to-door campaigning in these last few days and, God willing, Prabowo-Sandiaga will win on April 17,” Andre said.