Yes, I know, I know, abstention is the ghost that haunts all elections and the one that gets invariably blamed by the losing side, as if ALL "abstentionist" would cast the same vote for the losing side if they were marched at gun point to the polls. But after Amuay I really think that abstention has become the key to a handy Capriles victory, handy enough to force chavismo to accept the result.
First a brief psychological observation.
One thing we need to understand is that in ANY political culture where elections are held regularly 40% are ALWAYS on one side and the other 40% are ALWAYS on the other side. The composition of that side may vary, may include more than one political party (in France the left has always got more than 40% but on occasion they were as many as 4 significant contenders). Elections are thus decided on two factors, where the 20% lean and how many of the 40% of each side will stay home on election day. There is in general very little transference between the 40% blocks and when that happens to a significant amount able to decide a momentous election it is in time of perceived major crisis (the apparition of gaullism in France in 1958; the Reagan democrats; Chavez in 1998).
Now, for the psychological part. The stability of those 40% blocks reside on many things but one thing is the difficulty for people to admit they were wrong for so many years. If you have voted for Chavez each and every time since 1998, voting next month for Capriles ain't gonna happen. What is going to happen is that it will be the first time you do not vote for Chavez and stay home deliberately.
If the opposition has been able to grow since 2006 it is because, among many things, a large chunk of chavismo stayed home for the 2007 referendum. Once that first emotional break was done (PODEMOS people mostly), it was possible to conceive that yes, why not?, they could go all over to the other side.
The problem with this year election is that the opposition has gained as much as it would gain from the 2007 defection. It is good enough to tie chavismo, and even give it a small but significant lead. But is it enough to give Capriles the strength to stare down Chavez next October and not only beat him but force him to surrender office?
Well, after Amuay I am thinking that abstention will be higher than expected inside chavismo and that many abstention leftovers of 2007 (PPT mostly) will come across once and for all.
I need to look at my numbers to integrate this new feeling but from my last post on this matter, I must say that of today I am seeing that Chavez 5.5 million is looking toward 5 while Capriles today's 5.8 is looking to 6.2. (remember, I was starting in that post with conservative estimates). In other words, it is becoming possible that Capriles may reach the million vote difference..... due to abstention. Furthermore the clumsiness in which chavismo handled Amuay and Monagas and Cupira may paradoxically mobilize as much of its voters as it loses them to Capriles outright. Thus even a 5.5 to 6.5 is not out of question.
PS: I have received some interesting data of trend studies that do match mine quite well. So after I look and digest it all I will update my predictions. Stay tuned.