President Mauricio Macri's unofficial political strategist, Jaime Durán Barba, predicts Macri and former president, Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will compete "neck and neck" to win the presidential race in October.
"I don't see a third candidate with any real chances. Not even close", Durán Barba told Jorge Fonteveccha in an interview published in Perfil.
"Cristina Fernández is a person with merit, with leadership, despite not being a person I would vote for. But she knows how to express herself and communicate sentiment", the political guru said.
Fernández de Kirchner "has the possibility of communicating and running a very good campaign, no doubt about it", he added.
Macri and the former president will compete "neck and neck", Durán Barba insisted.
The Ecuador-born political adviser downplayed the chances of former Economy minister Roberto Lavagna, claiming he lacks the leadership skills to manage Argentina's complex political world.
"Lavagna is just like a lot of people... Lavagna is an economist, a respectable guy, but he is not a leader who can control a bloc of lawmakers without being president", Durán Barba added.
He denied the government's inner circle was considering the Governor of Buenos Aires, María Eugenia Vidal, to replace Macri as the presidential candidate if Macri's poll numbers fail to improve.
On Vidal and Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta's popularity, Durán Barba warned: "There is a key point: They do not have to fix the economic problems of the people. If Macri did not have this responsibility, he would poll marvellously well.
"The people recognise that he (Macri) has fought drug trafficking, crime, which is fine. But his main responsibility is to address the economic problems of the people".
CRITICISMS OF 'KIRCHNERISM'
Durán Barba, who has been known to praise former president Fernández de Kirchner's political style, said there was a growing fanaticism surrounding President Marci.
"When focus groups are done with Cristina's followers, it's 'Cristina or death'. Any defect of hers are met with 'And, so what?'.
"This has gotten more intense with Macri, too, in the last year. Macri's supporters were much more moderate: 'Yeah, he's not a bad guy'. In the last year, given the anger (over the economy), a large portion of people became fanatical, too. It's Macri or Macri because otherwise, everything will go to hell."
He described the polarisation between Kirchner and Macri supporters as akin to "a neighbourhood fist fight".
"When you fight with your neighbour and you give him a smack because he supports Cristina, you become a fanatic of Macri, even if it's a little argument.
"Political dynamics have to do with voters not so much with the leaders themselves".
Durán Barba claimed Kirchner supporters "want a society free of the basic tenants of democracy: press freedom, the separation of powers, the respect of human rights. They don't want that. This is the society of intimidation, of threats".