Monday, March 25, 2013

Electoral numbers for 14/04: trying to look at the rock bottom

Now that we have looked at the December result of state elections, we can try to evaluate the rock bottom total for the oncoming April 14 flash election.

But first let me give you the caveat. This flash presidential election is extremely volatile  On one side you have a triumphant chavismo which won two elections in a row but with a dead leader which is milked for all its worth to obtain a sympathy vote so as to secure a succession. On the other hand the economy slide that started in the last quarter of 2012 is forging ahead, with a renewed inflation, two back to back devaluations and a scarcity index on the rise while the regime has not even made a pretense to fulfill any of the promises of the dead 2012 candidate. Condiment this with an opposition whose unity seems resilient and a way more combative candidate playing on a background of doom.

You will agree with me that predictions are almost as useless as polls. Yet, we still must try to peruse the crystal ball and at this point the only thing that I dare to do is to try to evaluate which is the least amount of votes that each side will get.  Which means, that in a very emotional election, each of the three scenarios I present is meaningless in that an emotional upswing a few days before the election will decide the winner either way. I know, sounds like a cope out but stay with me and you will understand, maybe, I hope, perhaps better than I do myself.

Scenario 1

In here I start with the numbers posted a couple of days ago. That is, we start from the numbers the opposition gained last December and we improve them by making an average between December and October 2012. Let's call this a pessimistic/optimistic scenario since I assume the opposition will not recover well from its emotional down of October, but chavismo sympathy vote was factored in the December numbers and Maduro is unable to build on that. That is, a high abstention scenario damaging chavismo more than the MUD.

Note: in the three scenarios I took a wild guess at Caracas and embassy votes that did not take place last December.

The result here is a tie. That is, the election will be close and all sorts of charges of cheating will be levied. Political mess is sure to follow whomever wins. I assume of course that cheating will not go beyond the normal cheating observed until now, that is, the CNE will be forced to announce a narrow victory for either side, cheating not having been strong enough to give a decisive advantage to Maduro.

It is also important to note that such a scenario is likely to be influenced by the "celebrations" of April 11-13, the three days before the vote. Either people get sick of it or they come back to chavismo glories...  Which is the basis of the next two scenarios if you will.

Scenario 2

In this scenario I look at state by state intuition as to whether chavismo or the opposition improve better their chances in comparison with December 2012.  For example above my mean for Tachira is 284, but now I raise that to at least 300. Not more because the state being now ruled by a chavista it is difficult for the opposition electoral machinery to work as well as it did last October.

On the other hand in a state like Trujillo where in December we were trashed, I doubt very much that we will have a better recovery and instead of the 89 above I ruthlessly give only 50 thousand to Capriles.

I applied the same "gut feeling" for chavismo and the result is surprisingly not very different for Capriles who improves only 50 whereas Maduro gains 200. The election is close, Maduro is weakened inside chavismo as he did not recover Chavez October's numbers, but he wins nevertheless, a legal ruler if not a legitimate one.

This scenario keeps assuming that abstention is high because people are fed up with elections, something observed worldwide when elections follow too closely each other.

Scenario 3

This scenario is a more optimistic variation for us. In it I assume that Capriles does recover his October result but as a consequence, his strong campaign also decreases the abstention number within chavismo and the 47% afraid to lose their freebies will find a way to return to the polls on April 14.  In short I assume Capriles recovers his vote and that chavismo gets its December vote with some improvements. Again, my gut feeling according to the different states.

Unfortunately this result is no better than the one in scenario 2. In fact, chavismo gets a 0,1% more...


Still, this exercise leaves us with some information.

First, if the opposition does not go to vote, Capriles loss is certain, without need for the CNE to cheat more than usual. Once and for all those that promote abstention without any other plan of action would be well advised to shut up. After all, you can only claim your ballot was stolen if you cast it. If you did not go and vote you cannot claim that an non-existent ballot was stolen.

Second, abstention again is the key, except that this time around there is no guarantee that the get out the vote will work as well as it did in October: not as much money to pay, not anymore the beloved leader on the top. That is where the real uncertainty comes from chavismo whose blackmail machinery is supposed to be as fearful as it was last October.

Third, the opposition will likely lose but by a lesser margin which, in my opinion considering the circumstances may be quite a good result. I will even happily settle for scenario 3, as Maduro will be greatly weakened and a division of chavismo as the economic crisis intensifies is nearly certain while the blame will be put squarely on chavismo.

Thus I differ from people like Alek Boyd who already call for a landslide for Maduro or from pollsters that give a solid lead for Maduro that is nowhere to be seen. At least for these eyes who see him winning, but by a narrow margin. Of course, depending on how willing is the CNE to fatten that margin, something that the MUD would be well advised to face down before April 14.


  1. Michel Garcia3:11 AM

    Some questions. Sorry, they're a bunch, but I think they might be of some importance to determine more possible scenarios. I saw an interview where someone from the MUD (don't remember who) said that if chavismo made any events on the 11-12-13 they will too. Will the CNE allow it? Will it have any impact on the numbers? If CNE people participate in the chavismo events, will that have any impact, nationally or internationally, deep enough to change the possible outcome? Some people (common peope) seem to be basically calling for an ukranian-like Orange Revolution scenario. Do you think it might be possible? People seem willing to do it, however, as we know, it will not spontaneously happen, Capriles would have to start it, and maybe call it; pardoning my "french", do you think he might actually (have the balls to) do it?

    1. Michel

      The Orange revolution had a basic ethnic drive that got its trigger with economic problems and government abuse. Also Kiev was majority ukrainian. In Venezuela there is enough of a cult at this point to assume that 30% will fight back while the 30% that could start it do not have the guts. Not happening.

    2. Ps: though in a few months from now when the economy tanks, another type of revolution is possible.......

  2. Roberto Carlos3:12 AM

    Daniel you say it yourself "your predictions are meaningless", so I skipped to your conclusion -why waste my time with meaningless numbers right?- you present us with a false choice: "Once and for all those that promote abstention without any other plan of action would be well advised to shut up." By the way "Shut up" nice touch. Is that French for "i am an arrogant bastard"?

    Now what about this other choice: "the ones whose only plan is to go from guaranteed losing election to guaranteed losing election without any other plan should shut up? After all, there is a lot of truth in that old saying: If you keep doing what you've been doing you'll keep getting what you've been getting".

    1. Roberto

      1) nobody, absolutely nobody is forcing you to read this blog and even less able to force you to peruse numeric tables no matter how arrogant the editor is.

      2) making a prediction is meaningless, looking at the bottom line maybe not. Do not skip before time.

      3) and thanks for sustaining my point since you bitched against voting and yet offer no alternate plan.

  3. Dr. Faustus11:05 AM

    I would like to be the first to come onto your blog and predict,.....a Capriles victory.

    I know, I know, that sounds crazy. There is a well-known theory in politics that is often overlooked when analyzing unexpected historical events. It's a simple concept, but has powerful repercussions. It's called the "incompetency factor." The Maduro campaign is so incompetent that on the day of the election, April 14th, their get-out-the-vote efforts will resemble a Chinese fire drill. (Sorry to all Chinese for this analogy.) It will be chaotic. It will be unfocused and haphazard. It will reflect the current make-up of the planning staff of the Maduro campaign, three thousand headless chickens dressed in 4F baseball caps, red I-am-Chavez t-shirts and Venezuelan-flag arm bands. It will all come crashing down to reality due to, ...incompetence. This will be especially true if the race appears to be tightening prior to April 14th.

    There is precedence for this theory. In 1989 the SED party of East Germany was seen as the model for communist efficiency. These guy appeared to know what they were doing. Like today's PSUV, they appeared to have all their bases covered. They were good, damn good. They had infiltrated so many of their East German spies into the BRD, that they kept bumping into one another in the corridors of West Germany's spy headquarters in Pullach (Munich). They knew more about what was going-on in the government in Bonn than Helmut Kohl did. It was awesome. Yet,...

    In November of 1989 they showed their incompetence to the world. When the heat was on, think April 14th, the SED sent a spokesman to a press conference filled with western journalists concerning the widespread demonstrations taking place throughout East Germany. When asked whether asylum-seeking East Germans could shorten their journey to freedom by applying at the Berlin Wall instead of travelling all the way to Prague, Czechoslovakia, the SED spokesman, clearly unprepared, said, ....yes. Within hours of that statement half the population of East Berlin showed-up at the Berlin Wall. The crowds were overwhelming. The Wall came down, all because of incompetence. The SED showed its headless chicken image to the world. It was stunning in how swiftly it all came about. The once powerful juggernaut know as the DDR collapsed within itself as a result of the mistake made by an SED spokesman. It was that simple.

    Point: Don't ever underestimate the power of the "Theory of Incompetence," especially when shown numerous examples such as twice devaluing the national currency before an election, in addition to the current Venezuelan President singing the Cuban national anthem in front of potential voters. It may be that the PSUV could join the SED in the dustbin of history, very shortly.

    1. To which you can add Arias Cardenas calling for electricity rationing in Zulia...

      My " models" do not rule out anything, they only at showing the least amount of votes each side will get. The extra bonus to win at THIS day is still up in the air.

    2. Island Canuck1:50 PM

      We also have rationing in Isla Margarita this week. Acording to Corpolec cuts of 1½ hours. We had one this morning.

      I guess nobody told them 14 years ago that it got busy in Margarita during Semana Santa.

    3. Charly4:31 PM

      Well.. Dr Faustus, I don't believe it but I sure like it. But if they are so incompetent, I hope they barely make it at election time to crash back to earth a few months down the road never to raise their ugly heads ever again. You want the PSUV coffin nailed solid to be exposed next to Chavez's.

    4. I'd like to be the first to voice my concern about the recent dismantling of former barriers to entry for ALBA members. With easier entry into Venezuela (no passport requirement), what are the possibilities of the Vz cédula machinery going into high gear? That is, to award these new entrants the possibility of voting --- madurista, of course.

      I don't wish to be an alarmist, but it's the first thing I thought of when I read the news.

  4. moraimag12:05 PM

    Daniel, thanks for trying to make sense of this crazy situation. I have to say, I read both you and Alek and both have great points, I can't make my mind as to what might happen. The incentive to activate the get the vote machinery is even higher this time around, but Maduro's blunders could well put a lot of people off voting. 3 weeks seems like a loooong time to have to wait to see how this plays out

  5. The success of the opposition will depend on the people who vote for Capriles who limit the amount of dishonesty in and around the elections.

    Capriles is not everything.The students should not be alone.How many people are demanding fairness? Depending on that, the results will be in accordance.


  6. It would be interesting to make the V. public aware of how a government can remain in power effortlessly and indefinitely by promoting helplessness on a massive scale in the subject population. The scandalous levels of crime, injustice, and chaos in V. promote just such a generalized psychological state, as does the electoral board's evident partial behavior. The animal experiments commented in the link below are actually fascinating. The link comes from a blog making the relevant observation about Cuba:

    Cuba y la Indefensión Aprendida.

    La indefensión aprendida (o desesperanza aprendida) es un fenómeno que podemos encontrar en diferentes grupos sociales y/o países en general. Ésta se traduce en la aceptación por parte de una persona o grupo de individuos de la desgracia porque, en algún momento y de alguna manera, aprendieron que, hagan lo que hagan, es imposible cambiar la situación presente y salir del castigo o la adversidad.

    Considero que, si bien existen otros factores que dinamizan el comportamiento del ciudadano de la isla, éste es un fenómeno bastante generalizado en el país cuando hablamos en términos políticos.

    ¿Existirá la posibilidad de revertir dicho aprendizaje? ¿Qué se podría hacer para ello desde fuera?

  7. Anonymous9:17 AM

    I really don't understand why you don't have a scenario where Maduro gets at least 7,5 millons!

    I think it's posible, poll all the chavistas you know, 90% of them are going to vote for Maduro without doubt.

    I really hope:

    Maduro gets less votes than Chávez
    Capriles get almost the same amount than in Octuber 7th.
    The difference between Maduro and Capriles is under 10% like it was between Capriles and Chávez

    I really want to win, but I know it's almost imposible.

    1. Anonymous

      What is it you cannot understand? This is a post about THE LEAST each side may get, NOT about how much they can aspire to.

  8. Anonymous6:30 PM

    What happened to the Ni-Ni's in the last two elections? Do they still exist? Could they be a bigger factor in this election?

    1. I never believed in NiNi, calling them mere sinvergüenzas. I suppose that a case can be made that NiNi are those that probably will not vote anyway, and those working for the regime and blackmailed into voting for Chavez.


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