President Joko Widodo engages in light discussion with the Head of Gerindra Party Prabowo Subianto at State Palace last year - Photo by President Office.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Two weeks before the Presidential Election on April 17, many of people expect the greater opportunities for “incumbent” candidate Joko Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin to win the biggest competition. The majority of survey institutions showed “the incumbent’s” superiority over their contender Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno. Although superior, the trend of decreasing electability of incumbents to date should also be taken into account.

The time range from October to November 2018, the electability difference between the two candidates was in the range of 25-29 percent. That was seen from the Jaringan Survei Indonesia’ survey (55.6 percent belonging to incumbents versus (vs) 26.1 percent of the opposition), the Lembaga Survei Indonesia (LSI) (58.7 vs 30.9 percent), SMRC (57.6 vs 31.8 percent). December-January 2019, the difference between the two decreases in the number of 21-24 percent. InDex (58.2 vs 33.7 percent), Populi (54.1 vs 31.0 percent), Indobarometer (50.2 vs 28.9 percent).

On mid-January, three survey institutions recorded electability differences of 20 percent. Vox Populi (54.1 vs 33.6 percent), Cyrus Network (57.5 vs 37.2 percent), Indicator (54.1 vs 34.8 percent). Ranging from February to March, the difference between the two continued to decline and even two survey institutions photographed opposition superiority.

While, Charta Politika (53.6 vs 35.4 percent) and CSIS (51.4 vs 33.3 percent) recorded a difference of 18 percent. Furthermore, Polmark (40.4 vs 25.8 percent) and Politica Index (47.4 vs. 32.5 percent) surveys recorded a difference of 14 percent.

The difference was thinning again at 11.8 percent from the results of the Kompas survey (49.2 vs 37.4 percent), down again at 09.2 percent in the Median survey (47.9 vs 38.7 percent), 08.0 percent in the SPIN survey (49.0 vs 41.0 percent), 04.1 percent in the Puskaptis survey (45.9 vs 41.8 percent), 03.9 percent in the Indomatrik survey (47.9 vs 44.0 percent). While the other two survey institutions favor opposition: IDM (35.0 percent vs 53.9 percent), Democracy House (40.3 percent vs 45.4 percent).

Looking the results of the survey above, the position of incumbents is indeed more favored to win this year’s presidential election. If we look in the mirror in 2014, Widodo’s victory in the survey narrowed from 15 percent to only 2-3 percent in the last month before election day. In the end, the former Governor of Jakarta won with a difference of 53.1 percent against 46.8 percent of his opponent Subianto.

“We are quite confident,” said the Bravo 5 member — an informal pro-Jokowi campaign team formed by Maritime Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan, who run in the contested province, West Java. “We think the gap on the day of the 2019 presidential election will be around 15 percent, better than in the 2014 presidential election,” they added.

This argument is reasonable. Especially if we look at the latest LSI and Indo Barometer surveys released Tuesday (04/02), recording the difference between the two candidates is still at 20 percent (56.8 – 63.2 percent versus 36.8 – 43.2 percent).

The superiority of incumbents is supported by several factors: first, satisfaction with Widodo’s performance in the first period. The LSI survey shows that 69.5 percent of voters expressed satisfaction compared to 25.6 percent who stated otherwise.

Second, Widodo has a number of populist programs that are widely known and liked, such as the Healthy Card, Smart Card, the Hope Family Program, infrastructure development, village funds, and prosperous rice. Indo Barometer notes that these programs are known to be above 70 percent on average, 60 percent preferred.

Third, Widodo’s self-branding ability is not easily matched. That has been proven since the Mayor of Solo, the Governor of Jakarta, then the President.

Opportunity for Opposition

But does the opposition have no chance at all? Looking at the downward trend in electability, Subianto-Uno clearly still has a chance. The high number of swing and undecided voters (15-20 percent) can be used for grabbing. Moreover, this group is filled by urban society and the upper middle class who in the survey prefer opposition rather than incumbents.

Several factors have influenced their choices. First one, the Sandiaga Uno charisma. In addition to succeeding in winning the hearts of mothers in the countryside and millennials, Uno is also able to dialogue rationally with the urban and upper middle class with its economic program.

Food sovereignty, price stabilization, and the development of non-debt infrastructure are programs that are currently the antithesis of incumbents. The concepts of Uno is right and targets people’s rationality. It’s ability to surround almost all regions succeeded in eroding the pockets of Widodo’s supporters, especially in East and Central Java.

Second, the political machinery of the people. People know him with movement 212. Incumbent fatigue faced mass movements 212. Various attempts at reconciliation were unsuccessful. Offensive patterns often create political blunders. Slow but sure, the operation of the 212 movements actually undermined the electability of Widodo. There have not yet been seen an effective step from the incumbent camp to inhibit or tame the movement 212.

This group is predicted to be more united ahead of the voting day. The Jakarta, West Java, and Central Java election have provided clear evidence of the consolidation of the politics of publicity. They were able to give a significant voice in the three regions.

Not only is land consolidation good enough, but the engine of integrity is also capable of giving birth to cyber groups that are mushrooming in various regions. No one knows for sure how many cyber groups this is. They are militant and massive volunteers engaged in the media. With the costs and logistics of each.

Third, the influence of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). This 6th President of Indonesia can not be understated. Regarding the strategy, SBY is one of the best generals. Two major wins in the presidential election battle are proof of his political expertise. Not many generals have this ability. Even Wiranto, the former TNI Commander failed several times.

Finally, incumbents face their own internal problems. This problem is divided into two phenomenons. Firstly, related to performance. Regarding performance, Widodo was burdened with his unresolved political promises.

He faced food sovereignty issues with various imports which invited protests from farmers. Not to mention the problem of the booming Chinese labor force, stagnant infrastructure, and leaving large debts as problems that have affected public perceptions. The opposition certainly played this issue during this open campaign period.

Secondly, related to the successful team. The Widodo step often makes political blunders. Operation of the apparatus and bureaucracy is not neat. For example, incomplete cases have become a “negative aura” for the incumbent. The persecution of opposition supporters actually eroded electability. The vulgar campaign of ministers and regents has hurt people’s psychology. This is also the issue that the opposition continues to play until the voting day.

So, despite being superior in the majority of survey institutions, the incumbent’s position is not yet save. But the chances of winning are greater if you see the difference in electability between them to date.

The opposition, though small, still has the chance to win. If tenaciously utilizes the time available to sell sexy and rational programs, the opportunity to win the swing and undecided voters is very open. If successful, the opposition will win this contestation.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com

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