Sunday, October 22, 2006

Poll wars: that mysterious 40%

I have been greatly amused by a latest propaganda piece in Aporrea (yes, I know, as elections near I am making an effort to watch and read chavista propaganda stuff). It was about the latest poll of Cifras Escenario (a totally unknown pollster for me) mixed with the much older Consultores 21 poll (a respectable pollster). The objective today is not to discuss the manipulation that Aporrea does from an already “arranged” Panorama article. They mix an older, semi reliable result with a newer result of an unknown pollster based on an “I like do not like” result about the “love” add campaign in order to make this last one more, should we say, trustworthy and meaningful, as if it were anew poll confirming the old one. No, what has attracted my attention is that chavismo wants desperately to believe that the opposition is below 25%. I suppose there is a progress of sorts: a couple of months ago chavismo refused in its poll to grant more than 15-20% to the opposition. Indeed, more than that and the vaunted 10 million votes slogan became unattainable. But now that Ameliach has accepted that it will not be more than 8 million we can let the oppo numbers increase a little bit and look ever so democratic.

The point is that any political observer with a grain of savvy would know that any poll that gives the opposition less than 30% today is deeply flawed. Why?

The latest life size poll we have had is the Recall Election of 2004. Then with already hundreds of thousands suddenly registered voters, amid charges of fraud that have still to be resolved, the opposition did get 40% of the votes (at least according to questionable official numbers). These were arguably the most polarized election Venezuela ever experienced. People then voted for or against Chavez and the 40% who voted against him truly, deeply disliked him.

My question is: what has Chavez done since August 2004 to win over to his side a portion of these 40% electors?
  • Was it the discriminatory Tascon list?
  • Was it that to benefit from the Misiones you had to wear a red shirt?
  • Was it because if you were in the government you could get one of the few built subsidized housing?
  • Or because if you were associated with chavista business you could make enough money to buy a fancy new car?
  • Is it because of the extraordinarily inefficient 20 all but directly appointed chavista governors we got in 2004?
  • Is it because the trust in government increased since it is all so open, all so clear, all so audited?
  • Or is it because we are all so delighted to have Chavez give our money away to countries that need it less than we do?
  • It is because justice is swift an impartial as amply demonstrated in the cases of Alvaray, Anderson, Fort Mara or now La Paragua?
  • Or could it be the unbearable crime rate of Venezuela streets which makes whatever happens in Palestine or Iraq almost look like a child’s game?
  • Is it because your confidence in a brighter future comes to you from seeing a public employee shop at an El Cafetal supermarket with two body guards (two cars waiting for her outside with yet more body guards) and pay CASH 1.5 million bolivares the grocery bill (as seen by my mother a few days ago)?
Any savvy political observer cannot believe that Chavez has significantly dented that 40% bulk. Maybe with a raising oil revenue lavishly distributed to buy votes, maybe with some unfinished but inaugurated trains he can scrap some at that 40%, but to think that the opposition today is less than 35% is as delusional as thinking that chavismo is down to 30% as some opposition TV vedettes would like us to believe. The reality is much more complex than that and we have yet to se a poll that can reflect accurately what is going on Venezuela where electoral result will be based in raw emotion on December 3. That is, if we have elections on December 3 which I am starting to doubt again. But this is another matter best left for a future post.

NOTE: as an addendum activity for this pleasant Sunday after days of rain, you could do worse than watch the video dug out by Miguel, with a nice soundtrack about love while you can observe all sorts of Chavez associated violence pictures since 1992. Not to be missed. Or you can go directly to Youtube here.

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