Ukraine election, round 1 polling data

Both winners of round 1 have an argument about how round 2 will end. For Mr Yankovych, there was a victory, although narrow. For Mrs Tymoshenko there was also good news–she was easily number two and outdistanced the third place finisher by more than double.

In terms of strategy, Mrs Tymoshenko was the clear victor as Mr Yankovych had publically pinned his hopes on a knock out in round 1 so that the need for round 2 would be just a matter of formality. That didn’t happen as he fell a full 10% point below his campaign goal while Mr Tymoshenko came within 3 percentage points of achieving hers.

Both campaigns have relied heavily on western guidance. Mr Yankovych hired top managers from Arizona’s recently defeated Presidential candidate John McCain to guide his Ukraine campaign, for example.

Grading the strategies:

Mr Yankoviych wanted to reach well over 40% in a knock out blow that would take the air out of Mrs Tymoshenko’s candidacy in round 2. However he did win round 1, if only by a slim margin. Grade: C

Mrs Tymoshenko’s campaign goals included holding Yankovych below 40% (accomplished) and to garner 30% of the vote (missed, but not by much). Grade: B+

Now several leading Ukrainian analysts are saying that lower than expected voter turnout may have cost Mrs Tymoshenko an additional 10% which would have put her even with Mr Yankovych. One of those anaylsts, the well respected Vitaliy Bala, commented that, “it is much harder for Viktor Yanukovych to increase his electoral support than for Yulia Tymoshenko.”

Given that several candidates are throwing their endorsements to Mrs Tymoshenko, this election is by no means over and may indicate a very tight race in round 2 on the 7th of February. If the turnout factor was indeed an issue, Mrs Tymoshenko’s campaign needs to step up the effort to get out every voter to the polls in February. For Mr Yankovych the idea may be to hold on to ever voter already committed and move toward the middle to woo undecided voters who didn’t bother voting in round 1.