The spate of refugee-terrorist attacks in Europe appear to have boosted the ratings of Austrian Freedom Party presidential candidate Norbert Hofer, with his lead widening to 4 percent, a new poll has revealed.
The Gallup poll, conducted July 26–27, 2016, is the first to be taken after the attacks and focused specifically on how they have affected voter attitudes for the presidential election rerun scheduled for October 2, 2016.
The new poll showed that the refugee-terrorist attacks have had a definite impact upon the voters, the OE24 news service reported.
The results showed that Hofer has a “comfortable lead” over Van der Bellen.
He has furthermore widened his lead and currently is on course to win 52 percent of the vote to Van der Bellen’s 48 percent, the poll said—adding however that margins of error meant that they still might overlap somewhat.
According to the poll, the margin of error for Hofer is set to a range of between 47.5 to 56.5 percent, and Van der Bellen’s is 43.5 to 52.5 percent.
It is significant, however, that even within this margin of error range, Hofer’s totals are still higher.
The survey also found that the two issues which are going to decide the election outcome are going to be “terrorism” and the “asylum question”—both topics which are Hofer’s main election platform.
“Terrorism has come as a turbo-boost to Hofer,” the OE24 news service noted.
“The attacks of recent weeks are likely to cause an upswing in favor of the FPÖ candidate because according to the current poll, voters have indicated that protection against terrorism is critical,” OE24 said.
No less than 56 percent of all respondents said that that “safety issue” will play an important role in their selection of the future president, and that 55 percent consider the “asylum policy” as vital in the coming election.
The poll showed that at least 5 percent of the voters will definitely choose another candidate in the rerun election, and that a further 5 percent are considering selecting a different candidate.
Given that Hofer won the popular vote on the day in the original election against Van der Bellen, this 5 (or 10) percent swing in voter choice will be crucial.
Just under two-thirds of the electorate say that they will definitely vote for the same candidate as they chose in the first round, the poll said—a claim which indicates that there is an undercount in Hofer’s favor, because FPÖ voters are the most motivated and least likely to change their voting choice.
The poll also measured a significant change in perception of the two candidates among the voters. Previously, Van der Bellen appeared to always win these “perception” measures, but now for the first time, Hofer is conclusively in the lead in this regard as well.
The previous Austrian presidential election—won narrowly by the communist-Green candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen, after postal votes were counted, was declared invalid after serious lapses in the postal ballot counting system were exposed.