Argentina’s Milei Keeps Edge Over Massa With One Week to Go Before Presidential Runoff

(Bloomberg) -- Javier Milei, the libertarian outsider promising to scrap Argentina’s currency and central bank, continues to hold a slight polling edge over his Peronist rival with just over a week to go before the Nov. 19 presidential runoff.

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Brazil-based AtlasIntel puts Milei’s support at 49% compared to 45% for Economy Minister Sergio Massa, according to a poll released Friday. Discounting blank votes, annulled votes and undecideds — which is the way the winner will ultimately be decided — the libertarian’s lead is 52% to 48%. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

The results are essentially unchanged from another poll by the same firm a week ago. Atlas was one of the few pollsters that accurately predicted Massa would vault ahead of Milei in the Oct. 22 first-round vote.

Massa is pledging a more centrist version of Peronism — the nationalist, state-centric movement that’s dominated Argentine politics for decades. He’s also overseeing an economy lurching into its sixth recession in a decade, with annual inflation running above 138%.

Milei, meanwhile, promises to slash state spending, swap the peso for the US dollar and shut down Argentina’s central bank to thwart inflation.

The two candidates will square off Sunday in a televised debate. The Atlas poll shows they’re both struggling to win voter approval. Some 49% of respondents see Milei in a negative light, compared to 57% for Massa.

Read more: Why Argentina’s Pro-Dollar Candidate Roils Markets: QuickTake

Over the past week, Massa visited the provinces of Cordoba and Santa Fe — the largest electoral districts outside of Buenos Aires — and announced a new tax rebate. Milei campaigned in wine-producing Mendoza province and the suburbs of the capital.

The latest Atlas poll was conducted online with 8,971 participants, between Nov. 5 and Nov. 9.

Whoever wins the most votes in the runoff will become Argentina’s next president, with a new government taking office on Dec. 10.

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