Xiomara Zelaya Leads in Honduras Presidential Polling

05/21/2013 06:06 pm ET | Updated Jul 21, 2013

The fourth set of presidential polls in Honduras is out, and for the fourth time Xiomara Castro de Zelaya is in the lead by a comfortable margin. In January, a CID-Gallup poll had Mrs. Zelaya ahead with 25 percent, followed by Congressman Juan Orlando Hernández with 23 percent, TV personality and sports commentator Salvador Nasralla with 18 percent, and attorney Mauricio Villeda with 16 percent.

In April, an opinion polling and market research firm in Honduras called Le Vote conducted a poll which showed Mrs. Zelaya ahead with 30 percent, followed by Mr. Nasralla with 28 percent, Mr. Hernández with 26 percent, and Mr. Villeda with 16 percent. Later in April, a poll taken by another Honduran polling firm, Encuestadora Paradigma, had Mrs. Zelaya again on top with 19.7 percent, followed by Mr. Hernández with 13.3 percent, Mr. Villeda with 10.2 percent, and Mr. Nasralla with 9.9 percent.

The latest poll, conducted by CD-Gallup during May 2-8, shows Mrs. Zelaya at 28 percent, Mr. Nasralla at 21 percent, Mr. Hernández at 18 percent, and Mr. Villeda at 14 percent. The remaining 19 percent of the people polled either said they did not know or did not respond. If you take the averages of the four polls, Mrs. Zelaya comes out with 25.7 percent, Mr. Hernández with 20.1 percent, Mr. Nasralla with 19.2 percent, and Mr. Villeda with 14.1 percent.

Mr. Hernández is downplaying the latest CID-Gallup poll and says it is he who is in the lead. His rationale against the accuracy of the poll is that CID-Gallup had him down by more than 10 points going into the primary election against his main opponent, Ricardo Álvarez, last November, and in the end he won by at least seven percentage points. Naturally, Mr. Hernández neglects to mention that the results were aggressively disputed by Mr. Álvarez, who asked for but was denied a recount by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE). The final results were not confirmed for many weeks, and even then there remained a veil of suspicion among many within the Nationalist Party that the election may have been stolen from Mr. Álvarez.

Benjamín Bográn, who is the coordinator for Mr. Villeda's campaign, is also downplaying the CID-Gallup poll, noting that they have consulted two other polling firms that have Mr. Villeda in the lead. The Villeda campaign has also apparently done its own internal polling, which has Mr. Villeda ahead. But, as we learned from the US presidential election last year, internal polling should always be suspect, because they inevitably turn out to be ridiculously over-biased in favor of their candidate. Mitt Romney dismissed polls conducted by reputable companies if the polls didn't suit him, at the same favorably citing polls that showed him in the lead. We see what happened to him.

You can't have it both ways if what you're interested in is truthfully gauging your chances. The reasons Mr. Romney and Republicans, in general, were so thoroughly surprised and disappointed is because they had been purposely deluding themselves for months -- actually taking seriously agenda-driven political hacks like Karl Rove and Dick Morris, who confidently predicted an electoral college landslide win for Mr. Romney.

Both Mr. Hernández and Mr. Villeda would be well-advised to take the new CID-Gallup poll to heart, particularly given that it is relatively consistent with the Le Vote and Encuestadora Paradigma polls. Think trends, patterns. They should take it as a wake-up call that they're in for one hell of a fight against two newcomers who offer something different from the failed policies and endless bickering of both the Nationalist and Liberal parties.