Monday, December 05, 2011

The second debate non debate

Since I twitted it live (@danielduquenal) I have no desire to go overboard on comment.  A quick item by item to let you know why I think Leopoldo Lopez won tonight.

Venevision.  The big loser tonight.  They set it up as if it were some game show, all bright and shinny and bad judges all from the home field.  Pathetic.  But at least it will not displease their chavista masters too much because I bet a lot of people got turned off.  The previous debate was more rustic but more heartfelt and thus way better.  But all is not lost, at the very least the chavista hoi polloi now knows what is missing from their side: questioning!  And that can only but help the Unidad.  I have the feeling that Venevision is not going to try that stunt again....

Pablo Medina.  Earnest but all over the board, inconsistent.  He did not even lose the debate, he was not there.

Maria Corina Machado.  She had a strong start but she seemed to fade as the debate went on.  On points she might be the winner but somehow they did not add up.

Diego Arria.  He was perceived as the winner last time but this time he was not as provocative, played more the statesman.  I suppose that since Venevision is a national broadcast he felt more inhibited?  He was good enough but after last time people expected more of the same and as such that perception played against him this time.  Unfair but that is what show business is all about and Venevision setup was a show.

Pablo Perez.  He lost tonight.  If sticking to the script may work for Capriles it is still too early for him to play that card.  Last time he was probably the one who benefited the more from the debate by proving that he was more than just a provincial governor.  Tonight he proved that he was not much more than that, and boring.  He should have taken his chances to score against Capriles, his main rival in the electoral pie, but he may have lost his chance.  Hopefully for him tomorrow being a working day many may not have stayed until the end.

Henrique Capriles. In a strange turning of the tables he may have won tonight by assuming the expectation of Perez last time.  Capriles strategy is not to take a chance but prove that on occasion a little bit of blood runs into his veins.  The risk tonight was to appear too dull but he avoided it and as such of the six he may be the one that did the most good to his position as the one benefiting the most from an anticipated Perez drop in polls.  But playing the safe front runner strategy of not taking chances does not always work until the end, somebody should tell him.

Leopoldo Lopez.  Last time he was expected to win and he, well, sort of lost.  This time around he was expected to be more strident, more aggressive, but he resisted and came out the better, winning this debate but not by much. Actually he was the only one trying to turn this fake debate system into a real debate of sorts by asking Capriles to be his education minister which maybe the high point of the evening besides MCM description of Chavez.  As far as I saw it tonight, there are only two guys who are presidential material and tonight it showed with Arria and Lopez. The other ones for all of their qualities did not look presidential tonight and on this respect Lopez helped his cause a lot tonight, at least with the more intellectual lot which is unfortunately the smaller segment of the electorate.

Effect? Little and a lot.  On the surface all were good enough and none apparently hurt his or her chances (except the already dismal odds for Medina which were made worse).  But the electoral trends may be setting soon and will do so under tonight's impression as Xmas comes around.

1) Perez is not up to Capriles and thus this last one will benefit and can start hunting on Perez grounds
2) I have the strange feeling that for all the good things MCM said tonight it was her swan song.  But she should not complain, Medina had his first and swan song tonight...
3) Those who do not want Capriles will have now to chose between Lopez and Arria and Lopez will grow by being the non-dull-Capriles because Arria is still perceived as having little chance to prevail.

Thus December will be crucial for Capriles and Lopez, the first one in conveying the inevitability of his candidature and Lopez in making sure people see him as the only other choice, making January a contest between them for the top tier.

Then again the fickleness of Venezuelan politics........  I am still reluctant to rule anyone out already except perhaps Medina.


  1. Juan Cristóbal6:16 AM

    Wow, my take on Leopoldo could not be more different. Didn't you think that the "Lilian no consigue leche" line was a clunker? What about talking about the Inhabilitacion during his closing statements? And what's with pivoting to crime at every question? It didn't seem natural.

  2. JC

    Maybe we did not see the same debate?

    It all depends on how you examine the debate, in promoting your candidate, in looking at what stirs your slice of the electorate or what stirs the electorate at large. Three different point of views may give up to three different winners for the debate.

    I have not read your take because I was tweeting live while you were blogging live, but I read Quico 's take and we are drifting apart more and more on our views.

    What I can tell you is that the Lilian Leche was not a clunker because it is really a problem today as neither rich nor poor can find milk. Maybe the delivery was not the best, maybe he felt self conscious as lacking milk is a much lesser problem for him (he can buy evaporated milk perhaps), but it was still credible becasue it is a real problem (My S.O. had to spend three times the official price with a buhonero yesterday to get some).

  3. Javier6:56 AM

    I am along JCristobal. To the first 3 question there was the same answer: Insecurity He sounded like the chavistas that always bring up April of 2002

  4. javier

    it does not matter whether you are with jc, my readers are against both of us becasue so far MCM is ahead in the poll with only a few hours left to reply. clearly, we all tend to see what we want to see.

  5. - Machado gave the best answers. That should make her the winner.
    - Capriles didn't do too much, but he's playing it suave. That could work for him, becasuse I am starting to dislike him less and I am not a big fan of the guy.
    - Medina is not worth a thought.
    - Arria couldn't overdo his "I'll see you in the Hague" speech. It seems as the MUD told him to curb his enthusiasm...
    - Perez was lost. Very dissapointing.
    - Lopez before las night had my vote. However, he also looked lost. He put too much emphasis on the inhabilitation. He did not answered the questions and talked about crime without rhyme or reason. He was overreaching and it was obvious. We know that crime is a big problem, but he should have done a better job connecting the dots.
    If there's another debate, I hope the men follow Machado's lead and improve their game...

  6. "clearly, we all tend to see what we want to see. "

    MCM'S swan song?

    There was a famous Guru in India( one of the many Babas I believe) who spent most of his life mute.He wrote on tablets for all time announcing that upon his death he would utter words that would change the course of the Universe, and his followers looked to that day in great anticipation.

    Upon Baba's death however, he seemingly remained mute.Over the years it became clear that the 'followers' heard his message anyway : the 'swan song' being the contents of whatever personal message each follower began to hear.The trick, or rather lesson, was on them.

  7. "clearly, we all tend to see what we want to see. "

    Daniel, firepigette, I believe you do not realize how big this realization is.

    Yes, we see what we want to see. That's the infamous "confirmation bias", and that'a probably the biggest hurdle the opposition candidates need to overcome.

    Because this confirmation bias the voters - especially those who vote for Chavez and the undecided - have made their minds about the candidates and Chavez already. They have their political paradigm, and it won't be easy to change it. So, what's the better strategy to change their mind? The first thing is that you need to be listened. Once you get their attention, you need to prove yourself as worthy of their trust.

    The big question is: which candidate can do these two things better?

    Debates and regular campaigning should cover the first thing, at least partially. But the second one? Capriles can show some results in Miranda. Perez the same. Lopez and Machado need to go big or go home. Machado did pretty well in the 2nd debate, but she has an uphill battle, especially with her pro-capitalism speech. It was smart for Lopez to talk about crime, but what happened to his "la mejor Venezuela" thing. I'm not against crowd-pleasers, but it was waaaay too obvious what he was doing.

  8. "Todo depende del color del vidrio con que se mira" Willie Colon

  9. CharlesC6:09 PM

    Perez tries to sell himself as a petroleum manager. In reality, Perez is simply promoting himself.
    I do not trust his intelligence. In fact, while he talks like an expert in oil business-in fact he is not. (Re.Mr. Gustavo Colonel's article today)
    Lopez is an interesting and very nice fellow. Intelligent. Trying to use charm..
    Caprilles-so humble.Very sincere and trying to keep it simple, focused and clear. Not exciting.
    Very accurate thinking.Trustworthy.
    As to Maria Corina Machado-just my opinion.I believe she is in 2nd place now. And nothing could change Venezuela more than electing
    a woman President...


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