In Venezuela, There Is A Path and There Is Way

July 31, 2012

I went to Venezuela about two weeks ago and spent it meeting with a number of people. While I knew and know that it is an uphill battle to defeat Chavez, I must say what I heard and saw changed my mind quite drastically about the probability of change come October. In particular, I heard or saw at least two presentations of polls, which have different results, but from which I could reach my own conclusions.

Beyond that, the way the Government acts clearly shows that there is little confidence within the Government as to the possible outcome of the election. The recent CNE decisions against ONG’s and their campaigns and the massive use of state resources are but one example of this.

And to those that have not noticed, there was a union election in Ferrominera del Orinoco, the iron ore company owned by the Government, where the President of the union was reelected under the “Unity” banner by close to a 5%. And yes, while he was reelected, the path to the election was full of roadblocks and dirty tricks, the main one being hiring about 2,400 new workers to try to win it for the Government, as well as a one year delay to try to insure the PSUV slate would win.

But it was not to be. The same workers hired to load the election in PSUV’s favor, apparently decided they were not too happy somehow and the election went to the Unity candidate in what used to be Chavista territory and more importantly we are talking about a union election. Think about it, the rank and file of a union election held under the rule of the XXIst. Century Chavista Bolivarian revolution, was won by the opposition!

Going back to the poll numbers, I saw a presentation by a well known pollster, my favorite for too many reasons. Since I did not pay for it, I will not say the name, but it is in my mind the most accurate in recent years.

These are the highlights:

-To get it over with, because it is not the most important result, things were very close at the end of June. Within the error. That is the punch line.

-While crime is THE most important problem to a majority of voters, when deciding who to vote for, voters work with their pockets. It is inflation and their purchasing power which is most important when it comes to the decision of who to vote for.

-Confidence in Chavez is 9% better than confidence in Capriles. However, this numbers ahs not changed in six months. In 2006, confience in Chavez was 26% more than confidence on Manuel Rosales.

-51% of those polled like Chavez, 49% like Capriles. This is in response to “Is XX someone you like?”that is, not someone you would vote for. In 2006, the difference was 55% for Chavez, 40% for Rosales.

-Social and economic indicators are all even between the two candidates, however, Chavez’ have gone down or flat since December, Capriles’ have increased. They did go up the last three months of last year, but no more. In 2006, Chavez had at least a 15% advantage over opposition candidate Rosales.

-The fear that Capriles will cancel “Misiones” has gone from 60% last year to 42% at the end of June, which means Capriles’ message is getting through.

-50% of those registered in Mision Vivienda, expect a home before October. That is fully 25% of the population.

-85% of Chavista voters believe that Chavez is cured by now.

-The ratio of “Optimists” over “Pessimists” has remained flat to down since December.

The pollster discussed the variety of results between pollsters. He noted that the pro-Chavez votes is quite similar between “serious” pollsters. What is different is the number of undecided, which varies from 8% to as high as 23%. He suggested that it was the undecided that are leaning largely in favor of Capriles, which creates the differences.

The last argument is the only one that I fully did not buy. It is rare in polling to have the undecided split in such an asymmetrical way. Maybe the pollster wanted to be nice to his competitors, I just think that the other pollster are not asking the right questions. The pollster concluded by saying that Capriles’ trend was what you would like to see in an race: One candidate stuck, the other one rising, the structural race dramatically different from previous ones. Concluding, he said that a half million difference between Capriles and Chavez seemed to be quite reasonable at this time and with this data.

The other puzzle in all this, is the inconsistent policies of the Government: Why insist on the gasoline chip? Why the slowdown in Cadivi outflows? The first created fear, the second one could create shortages at the wrong time. The answer may be that not everyone in the Government is being realistic about the outcome.

So, I turn to my next worry: Will they concede? Looks tough at this time to answer this. These guys are no democrats. But I will give my thoughts on this in a post in the future.

In the meantime: There is a path, there is a way in Venezuela!

26 Responses to “In Venezuela, There Is A Path and There Is Way”

  1. island canuck Says:

    Miguel, glad to see that you jumped on the bus.

    Hay un camino!

  2. moctavio Says:

    I am a numbers person, after the primaries, Chavez not only kept the lead, but increased it, that was truly worrisome. Now, it starts looking really good.

  3. syd Says:

    I’m confused, Miguel.

    1. “50% of those registered in Mision Vivienda, expect a home before October. That is fully 25% of the population.”

    25% of what population?

    2. “The ratio of “Optimists” over “Pessimists” has remained flat to down since December.”

    Define “optimists”. The voting pop’n for Chávez?

    3. When was the sample poll taken?

    I ask because with every week that passes, I see news clips of Capriles, campaigning here and there, and through that process, from far away, I sense significant spikes of approval. Frankly, Capriles is surpassing my expectations. His visible efforts, leaving few stones unturned in every visited community across the country will change for ever the rule book for future Vz politicians. People see that effort and want to be a part of its. It’s like a small tsunami that keeps growing.

    • syd Says:

      P.S. Capriles is only the visible performer. His MUD supporters deserve applause. In spite of monumental challenges, at the start, their perseverence and quiet behind-the-scenes work is fast becoming obvious. If it weren’t for them, I don’t think Capriles would have been so successful in his campaigning.

    • Miguel Octavio Says:

      50% of the voting population
      Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
      Second half of june

      • syd Says:

        thanks. so it takes a month from poll-taking to publishing the results. that’s just one reason why I find polls so unreliable.

  4. Kepler Says:

    Thanks for the analysis, Miguel. I agree things are changing and they tend to change, as usual, because of what people find in their pockets, not for concerns on human rights and not by peril and not even for their concern about the nation’s short, middle or long-term prospects. It has always been like that, but much more so in Venezuela. Capriles is doing good and yet this is no time to celebrate. We need to see what new tricks Chavismo has in its cauldron.

    Now to your
    “Will they concede?”

    Will flies stopped being attracted by shit?
    Will vultures renounce to their scavenging habits?
    Will cows stop farting?

    Only if there were a significance win for the opposition they might consider
    conceding…only to use a lot of Caracazos as commies have learnt to use since time immemorial.

  5. Alek Boyd Says:

    Miguel, I sincerely hope you’re right.

  6. firepigette Says:

    1.Pollsters can say what they will, but I do not believe that 51 % like Chavez, even if they say they do, and so far I have not been wrong in my assumptions.

    2.I am glad to hear that Capriles is trending higher, but what happens if he does win? What do you think Chavez will do?This is the most important question.

    3.It is when we are most trusting and confident that the enemy can surprise us in an ambush, so it is important to be aware and keep our eyes open. which means not believing in anything.Just watching with an open mind.

    4.Based on the above I am reminded of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s quote:

    “It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes. It may even lie on the surface; but we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions — especially selfish ones.”

    We all want to see Capriles win, but we have to be aware of who we are dealing with, and have a realistic plan.

    In my opinion Chavez won, and kept winning all these years, partly with the influence from outside the country, but also with his greatest ally: Venezuelan naivety.

    I realize I am not privy to inside info on the plan for after elections, I just have to say that without knowing there is a viable one, I am not yet optimistic.

    • Ira Says:

      Ditto.

      There’s a VERY old American saying that doesn’t make any sense at all, and there are variations on it. Mind you, this expression is way lost to anyone under 50 and above:

      “Wishful thinking doesn’t feed the sergeant’s cat.”

    • syd Says:

      I beg to differ on your view, FP.

      There may be a little naiveté among Venezuelan youth and 20-somethings, compounded by the I-can’t-be-bothered-to-vote element among several age groups. But it is doubtful that naïveté extends to 40-year olds and over, much less 60 + year olds who well remember life in a rather brutal dictatorship, an experience you have never had.

      Chávez won all these years, because there was no sufficiently prepared contender, nor was there a sufficiently united opposition. As a result, those against Chávez were rudderless (but not lost — we knew what was needed; it was not available). In addition, the fractured opposition made some very poor decisions, one of which was strongly supported by your favourite pre-candidate, María Corina.

      Here’s a reality bite. If the political field in the US offers so very few qualified individuals who are able to sustain public trust, after they throw down the gauntlet and accept their party’s mantle of presidential candidate, how do you expect Venezuela to fare after over a decade of strongman tactics and fractured opposition?

      Here’s another one. I don’t know where you’re getting your idea that most Venezuelans (through their naïveté) are unaware that the climb out of the cauldron won’t be steep. It would be interesting to know what straw poll you’ve been using. Because no one I talk to, among Venezuelans in Vz and expatriates in this area is naïve, ignorant, or stupid.

  7. island canuck Says:

    Miguel Octavio ‏@moctavio
    Global 2022 en 100.5%, PDVSA 2022 en 97.4%, PDVSA 2017N 84.65%, Global 2031 94.0%. Bonos se disparan en la apertura. Todos arriba.

    I noticed lately that every time you have a post showing a possible solution to Venezuela’s problems – possible HCR win or possible death of Chavez – the bonds rise.

    You’ve become the Venezuelan guru. :-)


  8. I have watched every one of Capriles visits to the 100 towns he has gone to, so I just don’t believe in any poll, I’m positive Capriles will win the elections by at least between 5 and 10% more votes. And if Chavez doesn’t accept this, I’m one who will take the road of open rebellion and will do whatever it takes to regain democracy, and when I say what ever it takes, I mean it literally

  9. albionboy Says:

    “And if Chavez doesn’t accept this, I’m one who will take the road of open rebellion and will do whatever it takes to regain democracy, and when I say what ever it takes, I mean it literally”

    Nice sentiment, but look at Syria, when you have a guy
    who does a Coup, he shouldn’t have been permitted to
    run. for president and then spits on the constitution while being
    sworn in.

    But when you have an old fart like Rafael Caldera, who
    will flush his Country’s democracy down the toilet, to curry favor
    with the mob, this is what you get.

    Sixty percent of Venezuelans voted for Chavez,
    they made their bed, now they have to lie in it.

    • Luisa Mosquera Says:

      Even children learn through their mistakes .. Hopefully, we as a nation have done so. And from the outpouring of people in towns across the nation for Capriles, the winds of change are blowing.

  10. megaescualidus Says:

    Miguel,

    “Will they concede?”. They won’t, unless their hand is forced. And, quite a few things will have to converge for their hand to be forced to concede. One avenue for this is that Capriles wins with a double digit margin (a really uphill battle given all the dirty tricks the Chavista government has and is cooking). Another one is that by October HCF is really dying (the glue keeping it all together is dying). If he’s not dying by then, and the margin Capriles wins with is small they’ll be more than happy to not concede.

  11. ErneX1@hotmail.com Says:

    He’s getting some love lately:

    • ErneX1@hotmail.com Says:

      Watch the embedded and the second link, in one gets a t-shirt on the face and in the other what seems to be a piece of paper.

  12. Bruni Says:

    In 2007 Chávez accepted the defeat with a “victoria de M…” but he did. It was not easy: he later tried to find something to change the Constitution nonetheless but he did accept it while that something was not found.

    So, call me naive, but if the difference is big enough, Chávez will accept the defeat. If it s not big enough there we are in the twilight zone. Big enough for me is 5%.

    Now, in 2006 it looked like Rosales had a chance, so much so that people were up to the last minute claiming that he should not have conceded the election and he was made an outcast by some members of the opposition for having done so. Yet, six years later, you are telling us, Miguel, that the numbers were not that good at that time.

    How come? Why were us under the impression that Rosales had a chance? Were we deliberately led to believe it even though it was not true? How can we know that this is not the case now with Capriles?

    The problem in Chávez’s Venezuela is that the information is so manipulated on both sides of the spectrum that one never knows what to believe.

    I hope you are right, but after 8 years of following very closely the Venezuelan situation, I am terribly skeptical about any information, good or bad, coming from Venezuela.

    • moctavio Says:

      Bruni:On December 2nd. 2006, I wrote:

      “this is the first Presidential election in which I have felt somewhat disoriented.”

      So, to me it is not the same at all. In 2006 polls from most reputable firms were saying Rosales would lose by more than 10%, some polling firms were saying he was ahead by one or two points. Those I dont listen to any more, but I felt disoriented. I dont today, but there are still eight weeks to go. But like our old pollster used to say” look at the trend” and the trend to me looks very good today.

  13. Bruni Says:

    I was devastated in 2006, Miguel. I really thought Rosales had a chance. It was the overall feeling one could have reading opposition news..and he actually lost big. So you may have had inside info at the time that showed that he was not doing OK, but that was not my case. All I was reading was that Rosales was improving and he was actually having a very good chance at beating Chávez.

  14. gordo Says:

    If there is any “excitement”, it is not about reelecting Chavez! Excitement is a strong contagion, it can spread like an epidemic. If Chavez doesn’t concede, the epidemic can become even more viral and violent! If the opposition wins, the genie won’t go back into the bottle. I’m going to start contemplating the post-Chavez Venezuela, and how the recovery will begin.


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