The methodology of that poll seems fine. Direct interviews. 2.2% statistical error. I cannot tell much more because I only got a Power Point presentation, but at least it seems that the minimum criteria for quality and trust are met. Now about the results.
First, they are valid for the week of November 16-25. So, if the Marisabel ex-Chavez and Baduel effect are probably factored in, the break up with Colombia and today's surprisingly huge rally at the Bolivar are not. How these played we will only know Sunday but personally I do not think that Chavez will benefit much from the break up with Uribe which seems just too convenient, to obvious for the general population. In fact, the very large Colombian vote which tends to favor Chavez might be negatively affected.
They say that only 62% of folks are decided to vote. This is high and low at the same time. High because it is high for a referendum, and low because considering what is at stake it should be higher. However when we see the "sure" and "likely" to vote the number is 76%, quite acceptable.
Where things get more complex is that when the like or dislike for the reforma is measured the Chavez proposal loses by more than 10 points. But when electors certain to vote are considered alone then the difference drops dramatically to 1 point. That is, with a 2.2% error, the result cannot be predicted.
The effect of the participation is examined further and the final conclusion is that there are two possible outcomes depending on how abstention resolves itself this week:
1) The SI wins by a narrow margin
2) The NO wins by a narrow margin to 10 points spread depending on how many people do go and vote.
They stress, they underline, that a SI victory with a wide margin is very unlikely. In other words, we are guaranteed continuous political instability.
However there is also an interesting element in Consultores 21: they poll the rural areas and small towns, something not done by other pollsters in general. And these areas represent up to 25% of the country and tend to be largely chavistas. I learned this the hard way in 2004 when I examined the Yaracuy results. I am reproducing again the table that I made then.
|San Felipe Metropolitan area||49.84%||50.16%|
The metropolitan area of Yaracuy barely voted to retain Chavez but Yaracuy at large voted largely to retain Chavez as president (then the Chavez camp defended the NO) . The victory in the country side was way above the 6o% found for the state at large.
Consultores 21 does calculate how that 25% rural to semi rural population votes and it is for the SI next Sunday, and it is by an almost 2 to 1 margin. In a way I think this gives a lot of strength to the prediction of Consultores. First, the "rural" voter is the most decided one (only 1.1% replied "I do not know"). Second the 62% for the SI is unlikely to grow much more. And third it is probably the sector that would be more likely to look positively at a break up with Colombia as crops would increase in prices, etc... Thus we might indeed be looking at a plateau effect no matter what has happened in Venezuela these past two weeks.
I have already discussed in several opportunities how the pro Chavez vote drops in industrialized areas and now Chavez is left to make up his deficit only by growing in unfavorable areas. If by now the 6 hours week which was the bait designed for those areas has not been able to dent the SI deficit, then no wonder they switched to "Love me or be a traitor" theme for the SI campaign.
In other words, this poll is the best polling argument to let us know that the NO has a real chance to win, that we should go and vote and no matter what the CNE will not be able to cheat. The deck, somewhat miraculously, has dealt us a good hand. If it does, then it will be unmasked this time.
GO AND VOTE!