If we look at the evolution of voting pattern in Caucagüita, Capriles should win in October.
One of the unheralded bellwether districts of Venezuela is a Caracas semi slum area, Caucagüita, East of the Sucre district of Petare. I have already written about it and for this entry removed the 2004 local election number so as to make it more about Chavez, in case you compare with previous graphs. After all, in October 2004, fresh after the recall election, the local vote was an anticlimax, not only the opposition staying home but also a lot of chavistas.
Caucagüita is important because already for the campaign of Luis Herrera Campins a famous spot was filmed there with a local, Aleida Josefina, claiming how abandoned the area was. It was 1978. Maybe people do not remember it today, but it was one of those crucial ads that helped swing the election in favor of COPEI. By the way, if you look if you Google "aleida josefina caucaguita" you will find a lot of articles of recent date, but in 2008 it was yours truly. I know, I know, I like to pat my back on occasion.....
But I digress. The point is that neither COPEI nor AD did much for Caucagüita and if there is a district where Chavez should be winning always 3 to 1, it is there. And if there is a district where any improvement through chavismo social programs should have secured a strong 2 to 1, it is there. As you see from the graph, we are now down to 1 to 1.2 in favor of Chavez. What happened?
Simply put, I think, the proximity of Caracas makes the issues in Caucagüita be more the lack of jobs and personal security rather than a Mercal bag of free goodies that may settle the issue in more rural districts. As such until 2007 the opposition did not grow there, chavismo still benefiting from "hope" which we all know springs eternal.
But in 2007 the hoi polloi of Caucagüita could not relate with the constitutional reform and not only chavismo vote dropped precipitously but the opposition vote started edging up, which it has not stopped doing since. Slowly, admittedly, but growing nevertheless. In 2008 Capriles became governor of Miranda and one may argue that the steady increase of the opposition vote may be due to his good tenure.
The prognostic for a continuous increase is good. Already at primaries the opposition got 4,500 voters there. This is big because showing up for an opposition primary in Caucagüita is like showing up for a primary between two black candidates in a fundamentalist Alabama town where crosses occasionally burn. The primary turnout allows one to think that Capriles is going to reach the 10,000 votes mark and if he does not defeat Chavez there, he will be damn close from doing it.
Caucagüita voting pattern is terrible news for chavismo. That pattern repeats itself in many popular districts where chavismo may still be winning but losing the "natural" reserve of votes needed to compensate other districts where chavismo is losing or may start losing (Anzoategui, Lara, Catia come to mind). And that trend may speed up or may be slowed down, but it cannot be stopped or reversed. Not only chavismo campaign does not seem to be working out but there is a political tectonic force at play here: Chavez has been in office for almost 14 years and there is something about staying too long in office, a tiredness and boredom that even successful and productive leaders were not able to contain (from de Gaulle to Thatcher, from Swedish Social Democrats to Canadian Liberals).
In other words, looking at trends since 2010, and at a messy chavismo campaign, the election starts looking more as Capriles to lose.
Note: since it is mid August, less than two months before V day, the time has come to start number crunching. As usual I avoid polls and the like, but if you live by polls and are ready to die by polls, you can follow other sites to that effect. One is YV Polis which does not link to me even though I have one of the best track records in electoral predictions. Then again I am not a pollster, just a self made electoral map specialist....
The other thing is that this time around excruciating trend analysis is not going to be as useful as in recent elections. The emotional make up of this election is very, very different from other elections and trends can be easily upset, magnified or erased at local level through local factors. Chavez could collapse in state X and yet retain a substantial vote in state Y. If a global prediction is easier (I am already giving Capriles ahead), it is still too early to decide which states are going to be responsible for that victory outside, of course, Miranda and Zulia.