There are two ways to gauge the popularity of political parties in Georgia -- opinion polls and the number of people who turn up for rallies in downtown Tbilisi. Scientifically questionable as the latter method may be, it is still frequently cited as a key indicator of political sentiments.
The survey of 6,299 voters showed that Georgian Dream’s approval rating has gone up over the past four months to reach 18 percent, but still falls behind the support (36 percent) for President Mikheil Saakashvili’s United National Movement (UNM).
But had the Ivanishvili team taken the pains to take a closer look at the survey data, they would see that what the survey really shows is that Georgia may still be in for a cliffhanger this October.
While the National Movement leads the field, its support has slipped by a noticeable 11 percentage points since February.
Meanwhile, the combined undecided vote (22 percent of respondents) and the silent vote (16 percent) trounced both the Misha and the Bidzina camps. That’s a number that can seriously impact an election result.
On some fronts, the two rivals stand shoulder-to-shoulder.
Twenty percent of the respondents said that if the presidential elections were held tomorrow, they’d vote for an Ivanishvili-proposed candidate. Just slightly more (22 percent) say they would go for a UNM choice. Here again, the combined undecided voter and refuse-to-answer voters stand at 47 percent.
The only person who is the hands-down winner in the poll (as in any other) is the longtime leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Ilia II. For everyone else, the fight for Georgia is only beginning.