Another survey has suggested a decline in support for the Jakarta gubernatorial candidate pair of Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Sylviana Murni, though their campaign team remains optimistic that Agus’ “field guerilla” style will help win votes on election day on Feb. 15.
Agus-Sylviana’s popularity dropped from 25 percent before the second official debate on Jan. 27 to 21.8 percent after the event, according to a Populi Center poll released on Monday.
“We will still emphasize field guerilla campaigning. Greeting residents one by one through eye contact and handshakes is an important method to gain support,” the AgusSylviana campaign team’s spokesperson Roy Suryo told reporters in response to the poll results.
Agus, a former Army major and the eldest son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has coined the field guerilla term for his campaign style, emphasizing what he calls “the power of handshakes and eye contact” during many of his visits to residential areas across Jakarta.
Agus believes that “talking too much about programs” does not necessarily lure voters.
The survey, which had a 4 percent error margin, found that the drop was partly caused by Agus and Sylviana’s “unconvincing” performances during the second debate, which focused on bureaucratic reform, public services and spatial planning.
Conducted from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2, the poll found that only 13.5 percent of the total 800 respondents were convinced by AgusSylviana’s programs in relation to the main topics of the debate.
When asked if they were convinced about the pair’s comprehension of the issues, the figure dropped further to 12.3 percent.
The other contenders in the race, meanwhile, saw signs of improvement in popularity following the debate, according to Populi.
Some 40 percent of respondents said the incumbent Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat pair would win the election slated for Feb. 15, compared to 36.7 percent before the second debate.
Meanwhile, support for the Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket rose slightly from 28.5 percent before the second debate to 30.3 percent after the debate, which was held at the Bidakara Hotel in South Jakarta.
The changes to the pairs’ popularity, as purportedly triggered by the debate, albeit small, are considered crucial given the tight race.
“A good performance in public debates is crucial for candidates to lure voters,” said Populi Center researcher Nona Evita.
Some 74.3 percent of respondents said they watched the second debate, 54.7 percent of whom claimed they used the event to delve more into the candidates’ missions, visions and programs.
A survey by PolTracking Indonesia, which was conducted one day after the second debate, offered different results.
Of 800 respondents involved in the survey, only 34.25 percent said they had watched the second debate. Of those who watched it, around 80 percent said the debate was very important while 13 percent said it was not important.
The Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) has announced that the third debate slated for Feb. 10 will discuss key social issues, such as demographic issues and the improvement of Jakartans’ livelihoods.
“We received suggestions after the first two debates. We will use them to improve the Agus-Sylvi ticket’s performance in the third debate. There is no reason for us to give up [on the election],” Roy said. Responding to The Jakarta
Post’s question about whether Agus’ father Yudhoyono, who is also the Democratic Party’s chairman, would be further involved in his son’s campaign ahead of the election, Roy merely said “just wait and see”.
On Saturday, Yudhoyono showed up at a gathering of volunteers supporting the Agus-Sylviana ticket, saying he had decided to “come out of retirement” to help the pair secure the top posts at City Hall.