Public opinion at the start of 2023

How does the Salvadoran public feel about the country and its challenges at the beginning of 2023?  As part of our series on the current state of El Salvador in several areas, today we look at public opinion.  Recent polls taken in December 2022 and released by long-standing credible polling organizations -- LPG Datos and the University Institute of Public Opinion at the UCA -- give important insights into the mood of the public.   A quick summary -- the public strongly approves of what president Nayib Bukele has accomplished to address gang violence and crime, and now the public's biggest worry is the economy and inflation. 

IUDOP -- poll results published here.

LPG -- poll results published here in series of articles between December 13-15, 2022.

To start with, 80% of Salvadorans say the country was better off in 2022 than in 2021 (IUDOP)

The economy is the biggest problem.

63.4% of those polled said economy was the biggest problem compared to only 19.6% who said the biggest problem was crime. (IUDOP)

93% of Salvadorans polled had felt prices increase on basic necessities in the year. (IUDOP)
48% of households had stopped buying one or more kinds of food because of price rises. (IUDOP)
41% of households had needed to borrow in order to meet basic household needs. (IUDOP)

Nayib Bukele's approval ratings remain very high.

An 88% approval rating (LPG Datos)
An average grade of 8.37 on a ten point scale (IUDOP)

Public approves of the State of Exception

90% believe that crime was reduced during 2022. (IUDOP)

68.7% say the administration of justice in the country has improved during 2022, and when asked why, most answered that criminals were being locked up. (IUDOP)

89.5% say Bukele had done a good job with public security in the country. (LPG Datos)

Reports of experiencing crime are down

88.2% say they feel safe or very safe in the neighborhoods where they live, while 11.3% indicated that they or someone in their household had been a crime victim during 2022. (IUDOP)

Only 4.8% said someone in their family had been a crime victim in the preceding 3 months, the lowest figure since the pollsters started asking that question in 2005.  (LPG Datos)

The armed forces and police are the highest rated institutions after the presidency.

In the LPG Datos poll, the armed forces had an 89.9% approval rating, and the police had an 85.3% approval rating.  

In the IUDOP poll   77.1% have trust in the armed forces, and 72.8% have trust in the police.

The public still does not like Bitcoin

61% of Salvadorans believe Bitcoin benefits only a privileged few -- the rich, foreign investors, and business owners.   (IUDOP)

79% had no Bitcoin transactions in all 2022, and only 7% had more than 4 Bitcoin transactions in the course of the year.   (IUDOP)

Respondents listed Bitcoin as Bukele's top failure as president. (LPG Datos)

Opposition political parties barely register a little more than a year before elections.

Salvadorans go to the polls in early 2024 to choose all elected positions in the country.  The presidential election is scheduled for February 4, 2024

According to LPG Datos polling: 

  • 49.3% would vote for Nuevas Ideas and Bukele in the presidential election
  • No other party had more than 2.7% (ARENA)
  • And 2/3 of Salvadorans believe that Bukele will win reelection, regardless of what their own preference might be.
  • While the majority of Salvadorans do not identify with any political party, 38.7% identify with Nuevas Ideas, and the next largest affiliation is the 3% who are willing to tell pollsters they identify with ARENA.
  • If we look at the two dominant political parties from the decades before the ascendancy of Bukele:
    • ARENA - favorable opinion -- 16.9%
    •                  unfavorable opinion -- 61.6%
    • FMLN -- favorable opinion -- 11.2%
    •                 unfavorable opinion -- 68.4%