Friday, December 05, 2003

The local variations in the potential votes against Chavez in an eventual recall election

The numbers game, part 2

Thursday 4, December 2003

Yesterday I gave the results so far in the signature collection for a recall election on Chavez. And my interpretations.

Today, as promised I am giving you more details as to the local repartition of the vote. This might not be of as much interest to those not familiar with the local characteristics of Venezuelan provinces. However to make it more interesting I have sorted things according to states where the potential anti Chavez vote has grown the most. For example the State of Aragua held by Didalco Bolivar was the biggest victory for Chavez in 2000. Today the opposition that had been reduced to its minimal expression then, thanks to a reasonably effective governor, has suddenly become quite competitive while the same governor has proved less effective under Chavez. That way, it will be interesting to observe that in some States the gains of the opposition have been quite impressive.

To make the reading easier I will write first the legend of the first five columns, then insert the table and then write the legend of the last 2 columns (the things that “blogger” forces one to do). And my conclusions at the very end of course.

The first column lists the states, in red those that have a pro Chavez governor, and in purple those that have an opponent to Chavez as governor (I still leave Bolivar as a pro-Chavez state although the governor has broken up with Chavez a few weeks ago, but for most of his tenure he was a big supporter).
The second column shows the votes of Chavez in 2000.
In the third the votes of the main opposition candidate in 2000, Arias Cardenas, that had about 85% of the opposition vote.

The fourth column displays the total signatures verified so far. I have highlighted in dark mauve the states where the number of signatures is larger than the chavista vote of 2000, meaning that in those states if the signature process had been a ballot Chavez would have been revoked there. In lighter mauve I highlighted the States where the signature number is almost as high as Chavez vote in 2000, that is states that more than likely would have revoked Chavez last week end in a secret balloting.
The fifth column titled “opposition gains” rate the percentile increase from column 3 to column 4. In blue the states where the opposition progress has been more than 70%, in yellow the states where the opposition has progressed less than 30%, states that arguably Chavez could recover, and in green the only state where actually the opposition has yielded ground.

StateChavez 2000Arias 2000Signatures 2003Opposition gains 2003Chavez advantage 2000Chavez advantage today
Caracas Center38736021393035920667.9%1.81.1
Nueva Esparta70805478477664860.2%1.50.9
Delta Amacuro251571285710005-22.2%2.02.5
Yaracuy82836549179346670.2% 1.50.9

The sixth and seven columns are a theoretical exercise where I assume that by some miracle Chavez retains his votes and that the opposition only progresses thanks to a decrease in the abstention vote of 2000. These two columns show how the Chavez advantage has receeded. Simply, in column 6 I divided the Chavez vote in 2000 by the Aria Cardenas vote of 2000. For example in Aragua for every voter of Arias, Chavez got 3.2 votes! In column 7, I divided the vote of Chavez in 2000 by the signatures of 2003. Now the Chavez advantage in Aragua has dwindled to 1 opposition vote for 1.7 vote for Chavez. In column 7 the states that Chavez might as well kiss goodbye are highlighted in tan.


Clearly Chavez has lost big not only in previously opposition ruled states, but also in some of the states that followed him from the beginning. These states share all one thing in common: they have been hit particularly hard by the crisis: Aragua, Carabobo, Lara and Miranda the industrial states who have seen their industrial park devastated, Zulia that has seen its important oil industry “taken away” by chavistas without regards for the local habits. That Zulia as our biggest state is already the biggest problem for Chavez should not hide the stunning progress of the opposition elsewhere. In Lara, reputedly one of the chavistas stronghold, the progress is spectacular. Lara was a state locked for Chavez, with the governor a notorious chavista from the coups of 1992, going as far as to even imitate Chavez’s ticks, most of town halls with chavista mayors, an iron clad majority at the state assembly. The misfortune for Chavez in Lara is that the total pre-eminence of his people implies that there is no one to blame locally for the mismanagement and economical crisis.

Only in Delta Amacuro does Chavez show some remaining power. But this is our poorest state probably, and one whose majority population is Native American. This rather thinly settled state might have actually benefited from the new Constitution that improves the status of indigenous people. Even the social programs that have failed elsewhere might have paradoxically worked some there, considering the previous state of neglect that this are suffered.

As for my own state, Yaracuy. This state actually voted for Chavez in 2000 but at the same time re-elected its governor, Eduardo Lapi with even more votes than Chavez got. Naturally, we were not from the start strong supporters of Chavez. And Chavez has pretty much abandoned us to our fate. This explain why even though Chavez was not that strong 3 years ago, he managed to lose so much more ground in Yaracuy. People are not dumb and they know who they are dealing with. The local question is which pro Chavez mayors are going to survive next year elections…

The table shows how much Chavez has receded. The states where he has faded the least are the rural states of the Llanos (Cojedes, Barinas, Guarico) or Tachira where he was not too strong to begin with. Even if he were to recover these states with lot of spending until the referendum, the main states of Zulia, Miranda and even Lara and Aragua seem quite uphill if not lost for good!

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