The opposition managed grudgingly to unify its candidates slate. Huffing and puffing, eventually in every single district there was a single list from the opposition. The opposition could have run a few more primaries but the fact of the matter is that its primaries were few but democratic whereas the PSUV ones could not hide the fact that the top spots were in the end decided by Chavez anyway.
If all the voting station were not monitored this time around the polling centers monitored sample was wide enough, that cheating became very difficult for chavismo. A very few rare centers dared to post a zero total votes for the opposition because they knew that next door voting station did have witnesses.
The campaign was not that great but at lest the people were able to sense the hard won unity. People also were sensible to the reality of the country and chavista campaign to preserve its 2/3 majority in the assembly was not convincing as folks sensed that the opposition would not be able to stop misiones programs if Chavez wanted to keep running them. The opposition did not offer a populist agenda but a managerial one and people did get the message.
But in the end when exit polls were examined what really mattered, what really made the difference in the the opposition success at blocking Chavez hegemony was that his campaign was too personal, that people did not buy Chavez self proclaimed legislative plebiscite, and that people got tired of lack of water, lack of electricity, lacks of jobs, lack of food on the shelves, etc... The majority of those who switched their votes to the opposition did so to send a warning to Chavez, not a final break up notice.
Why the opposition lost the 26-S vote
It all started to go bad when the opposition did not manage to hold at least one primary in one district in each state. People never understood why there was so many primaries in Carabobo or Portuguesa and none in Miranda or Bolivar. Still, opposition supporters overcame that why potential "NiNi" (whatever that means) did not fail to notice that the PSUV had hosted primaries everywhere, flawed maybe but primaries nevertheless.
In spite of all promises by the opposition, it failed to man all polling stations and in at least three districts this could have made a difference. But more than that exit polls showed that too many people decided to vote for the opposition at the last minute, fearing that their vote would not be counted, would not be defended. This suggest that too many decided to stay home once again!
To confirm that, exit polls also revealed that the opposition message had not be convincing, that too many people did not trust the ability of the opposition as whole to stand up for Chavez and that this had weighed a lot in their eventual decision to go to vote. Pollsters conformed that in the last days of the campaign, that the opposition was not targeting its message as it should be targeted, that the MUD pretty much ignored pollsters all along the campaign.
As a consequence of that the MUD was surprisingly unprepared when Chavez turned the election as yet another plebiscite on his persona and amazingly once again it worked. People were willing to forgive all of Chavez recent failures in the hope that this time around he will come up and fulfill his promises. Daniel Duquenal in his world famous blog noted that the opposition still does not understand that it needs to run at least once a negative campaign of blaming Chavez for all, knowing it would lose that vote. However by losing that vote it would force the chavista voter to take its own responsibility, associating it in the inevitable economic failure of the regime. And then, finally, the opposition will be proven right, will become credible and will win by landslide. Unfortunately the opposition prefers to settle for whatever scraps they can pry away from Chavez.
Thus, once again, in spite of all of his mistakes, Chavez was right in knowing that his political adversaries would make more mistakes than he would.
That way I do not have to write a post mortem on Sunday night late. All bases covered.....