The Poll that Scares Chávez

A recent opinion poll in Venezuela shows that the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles is winning by a significant margin. The result is 52% against 48%, with 1.5% margin of error. This has apparently scared regime supporters, because the link to the poll has been blocked on Facebook after being repeatedly reported as “spam”. This happened shortly after the link was posted on the page Operación Libertad Venezuela, which claims to belong to the resistance.

In brief, the poll interviewed 18,803 potential voters in all states of Venezuela. The results are reported per state and demographics. Only in the lowest social strata (D and E) does Chávez have a slight advantage, with 52% against 48%. In the middle class the figure are 54% to 46% in Capriles’ favor. In the upper class (A and B) his advantage is a whopping 81% to 19%.

In urban zones Capriles has an advantage of 53% against 47%, while in rural areas his advantage is smaller, 51% to 49%. When looking at different age groups and genus, the results in those from 26 to 45 years is really striking. Women prefer Capriles by 62% to 38%, while men prefer Chávez by 58% to 42%. How is this even possible?

One potential explanation is the fear factor, which was not eliminated in this study. In other words, the respondents were interviewed in public, rather than allowed to fill out a form and deposit in anonymously. The fear factor is considered to be between 16% and 20% in normal polls at the door, which means that the advantage to Capriles at present can be estimated to about 20%. In public interviews (bus stations!) this can have played a huge roll.

It should be noted, however, that the polling organization is not known among political operatives in the country, and the size of the sample is exaggerated. There is thus double reason to take the result with a grain of salt. The real-world lead of Capriles is significant, as anybody who has recently been on the streets of Venezuela will testify to, but how big remains an unknown.

While on the topic, a former US ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick D. Duddy, recently wrote a contingency memorandum for the possibility of political unrest in Venezuela in connection with the October 7 presidential elections. Chávez is explicitly threatening with civil war. Reports from travelers who have recently returned speaks about a very tense atmosphere. Many have decided to stay to October 7 and vote, but unless Capriles wins they will leave the country, they say. It is a moment of destiny, and not only for Venezuela; whatever happens will have repercussions in all of the Americas, from Canada to Chile.

As a side note, I cannot but suspect that the recent violence in the Middle East, and the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya in Benghazi, due to a low quality movie trailer that grossly mocks the prophet Muhammed, very well may be instigated and coordinated by the Cuban security service G2. The purposes would be to:

  1. undo the damage caused to the dictators of the world by the Arab Spring,
  2. harm the U.S. and undo the advances it has enjoyed in its diplomacy as a result of the Arab Spring,
  3. deflect attention from the dictatorship under siege in Syria,
  4. deflect attention from the elections in Venezuela on October 7, which may result in violence erupting (instigated by the regime).

Point 4 is important for the timing. For the regime violence to be successful, the world must not pay attention in the lead-up to the elections. Thus the need to deflect attention now, 3 weeks before the election.