Jokowi team steps up campaign amid narrowing lead over rivals

Jokowi team steps up campaign amid narrowing lead over rivals
Jakarta governor and presidential candidate from the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle party, Joko Widodo.

Three months ago, presidential front runner Joko Widodo was leading his rival Prabowo Subianto by up to 27 percentage points in surveys by two polling outfits.

The lead has since shrunk to 6 percentage points to 7 percentage points, the pollsters' latest findings released on Sunday show.

This is sending a jolt to members of Mr Joko's campaign team even as it appears to be gaining momentum from the candidate's commendable showing in the first two presidential debates.

Polling by the Pol-Tracking Institute and the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) for their separate surveys was done just before the first debate a week ago where Mr Joko, commonly known as Jokowi, and his running mate Jusuf Kalla (JK) were widely seen to have bettered their rivals, Mr Prabowo and his running mate Hatta Rajasa.

Still, the figures confirm what many are saying on the ground and are the first significant indicator that this election is becoming too close to call. They came as the two candidates appeared locked in a dead heat in Sunday night's debate on the economy, and some two weeks after an earlier survey by pollster Populi Centre found Mr Joko leading by a 10 percentage point gap.

"This psychological barrier (of 10 points) has now been breached, and any slip-up by the Jokowi-JK ticket could see them overtaken," analyst Bawono Kumoro of The Habibie Centre think-tank told The Straits Times.

"On the other hand, a slip-up by their rivals could also see the gap widen again," he added, noting that the number of undecided voters was now larger than the difference between the tickets.

The Pol-Tracking Institute on Sunday said Jokowi-JK would get 48.5 per cent of votes and Prabowo-Hatta 42.1 per cent, while the LSI found Jokowi-JK would get 45 per cent against 38.7 per cent for Prabowo-Hatta, with the remaining voters undecided.

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