268. Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1


  • Chilean Election Forecast

1. The total of registered voters for the 4 September 1964 election is 2,915,000, 45.7% of whom are women. An estimated 83% turnout is expected amounting to approximately 2,400,000 voters going to the polls.

[Page 590]

[Omitted here are the detailed results of several election predictions.]

b. An August 1964 sampling of the important areas of Santiago and Valparaiso shows Frei ahead by 20.2% over Allende in these cities:

Frei 54.4%
Allende 34.2%
Duran 6.9%
Undecided 4.5%2

(For an examination of details as well as regional polling data in five provinces, please see attachments 2 and 3.)3

6. Divisional Estimate:

We do not believe that it is possible to predict this election with any great degree of accuracy, that is to say, within one to two percent. For one thing, polling must be relatively inexact in view of the fact that expected voters this year exceed by more than one million the number of voters in the past presidential election. (This greatly increased expected vote is due mainly to laws passed during the Alessandri regime making voting mandatory.) As a consequence, pollsters do not have available the type of district bench marks which are used so extensively in polling in the United States. The enormously increased registration and expected vote can be assumed, however, to be of distinct advantage to the Christian Democrats in view of the fact that new registration will be heavily weighted among women who by and large favor Frei by more than two-thirds.
Some general regional observations are of interest. The northern provinces have traditionally been communist and radical strongholds. The PDC has worked hard to change this and Allende seems to have only a slightly favorable margin there. In the central urban area with its high number of women registrants Frei should win Santiago and Valparaiso by a substantial margin. In the central rural area Allende may carry Aconcagua and Talca with the vote being close all the way down to Malleco. The PDC seems to do not badly among the campesinos in Curico, Talca and Chillan. In the race in Concepcion, traditionally radical and marxist, Frei has a 50–50 chance.
From recent polls it would appear that the undecided vote as of the middle of August is about 5 percent. There is some indication that this undecided vote comes principally from Allende’s semi-defectors; logically, one would expect it to be composed also of radicals who find it difficult to choose between a far leftist and a catholic candidate.
We believe that Frei will win by a clear majority. From the point of view of U.S. interests a clear majority for Frei would be highly satisfactory and therefore we believe that this is the important point rather than trying to predict the exact percentage. Such a majority would mean that the election would not have to be thrown to congress and therefore that the uncertainties surrounding that process, including the possibility of rioting, would be eliminated. Furthermore, with a clear majority Frei would not have to make any political deals with other parties. Forced to predict, however, we would give the following: Frei—53 percent; Allende—41 percent; Duran—6 percent.4

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Chile, Vol. II, 9/64–11/64. Secret. Dungan forwarded the memorandum to Bundy and Moyers on September 4 and in a covering memorandum noted: “I know that both of you are interested in the Chilean election which is being held today. Therefore, I thought you would want to see a memorandum which I had prepared earlier this week by DDP giving their estimate of the outcome of the election. This analysis does not reflect the views of the Intelligence component of the Agency.”
  2. Bundy forwarded these results to the President on August 25. (Memorandum from Jessup to Bundy, August 24; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Chile, Vol. I, 1/64–8/64)
  3. None of the attachments was found.
  4. Rusk briefed the President on the Chilean election at a NSC meeting on September 1: “It looked as if a victory for the non-Communist forces in Chile would come up in the election 4 September, partly as a result of the good work of CIA; and this development would be a triumph for democracy and a blow to Communism in Latin America.” (Memorandum for the record by Ray S. Cline, September 1; Central Intelligence Agency, Job 80–B01285A, DCI Files, Meetings with the President) The election was also discussed on September 2 at the weekly meeting between ARA and CIA representatives. While FitzGerald gave the DDP prediction cited above, Mann said that “his source had indicated that Frei would probably win by a plurality but not by a majority.” Mann congratulated the Agency, saying that, “regardless of the outcome, he believes that we have done everything that is possible.” (Memorandum for the record by FitzGerald, September 3; ibid., Job 78–03041R, DDO/IMS Files, US Government—State)