But yesterday, Mr Akbar spoke positively about Mr Wiranto's chances, in a move that suggests the Golkar chief was keeping all options open, including cutting a deal with his rival that could see him being offered the post of senior presidential adviser.
Mr Akbar estimated that Golkar's presidential contender could garner about 36.5 million votes, or 32 per cent of the total, drawing on his party base as well as those of his running mate, Mr Solahuddin Wahid.
He is the younger brother of former president Abdurrahman Wahid, who still has enormous influence in the country's largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), and the affiliated Nation Awakening Party (PKB).
Mr Akbar noted that besides NU and PKB, Mr Wiranto could also get support from smaller parties such as the Indonesian Nahdlatul Ummah Party and the Nationhood Democratic Party.
But his two other rivals are running close. President Megawati, he noted, already had in hand about 21 million votes, based on her party's performance in the April parliamentary polls. Her No 2, NU chairman Hasyim Muzadi, would add votes from his supporters in East Java.
Mr Akbar said Mr Bambang, known popularly as SBY, and partner Jusuf Kalla were also doing well, attracting support in the cities as well as the heartlands.
'SBY's popularity will help him in obtaining many swing votes from other political parties,' he said.
The electoral commission has now excluded Gus Dur from the election and he's filed an appeal to the Constitutional Court. If he is unsuccessful his party, the PKB, which is particularly strong in East Java, will throw its support to Wiranto. Wiranto's running mate is Gus Solah, Gus Dur's younger brother. I suspect Mega's vote may actually fall between now and the 5 July election. Nothing suggests the performance of her government or her popularity will improve over the next month. That would make Wiranto and Yodhoyono the candidates for the September runoff.
The issue of Wiranto's indictment by East Timor must be getting some traction because Wiranto is seeking a reconciliation meeting with East Timor's President Xanana Gusm�o. East Timor has delayed despatch of the warrant against Wiranto to Interpol.