Saturday, April 03, 2004

Interesting poll of Caracas residents 

In today's edition of Ultimas Noticias (subscription required) a very interesting poll of Caracas residents was published. The poll was carried out by Instituto de Analisis de Datos. Here are the results.

Regarding what issues most concern Caracas residents the primary responses were:

Crime 55.6%

Unemployment 16.6%

lack of trash collection 6.2%

the state of the economy 3.4%

social problems 2.8%

The interesting point to this is that only 20% of the respondents consider the economy to be the primary problem in the country. I think that clearly speaks to how much the economy has recovered since the lockout of last year that so few respondents cite the economy as a primary problem.

It also comes as no surprise that so many residents consider crime to be the biggest problem. Crime is completely out of control throughout Venezuela and no level of government from the national to the local level seems to be doing anything about it.

Asked how their personal situation is the respondents answered as follows:

very good 1.4%

good 19.2%

ok 58.4%

bad 15.2%

very bad 5.8%

These are very interesting numbers. A full 79% of the population had an essentially positive view of their current situation - that is it is either ok, good, or very good. Only 21% said things are either bad or very bad. Now, this is really not all that surprising. But it would be surprising to anyone who listens to the opposition media and politicians who are constantly crying that the nation is rapidly going down the tubes. These poll numbers certainly contradict that.

Regarding their opinions of the performance of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez they gave the following responses:

Excellent 13.2%

Good 16.0%

Regular/Good 26.8%

Regular/Bad 14.8%

Bad 9.4%

Terrible 19.0%

These are good numbers for Chavez. It shows a clear majority 56%, have a favorable view of his job performance.

Regarding the Revocatory Referendum 48.2% of the respondents said they would vote to have Chavez leave office, 40% would vote for him to stay, and 11.8% didn't give a response.

These are certainly interesting numbers. They would seem to contradict the numbers above that show 56% have a favorable view of Chavez's perfomance. The most likely explanation is that the constant agitation and violence by the opposition has taken a toll and people would just like for that to end, even if it means that a president with whom they have no quarrel leaves office. However, it further bears mentioning that with only 48% of repondents favoring revoking Chavez's mandate it is quite likely any attempt to revoke his mandate would fail.

It bears commenting on polls in Venezuela. Polling in Venezuela is not carried out in the same way that it is in places like the United States or Canada. In the U.S. almost all polls are conducted by calling randomly selected telephone numbers. This helps ensure that the people polled are indeed selected in random way which allows polls in the U.S. to be very precise and accurate.

In Venezuela most people do not have telephones. So the U.S. method of polling is impossible. Instead, polls are conducted face to face either on the street or in people's homes. Of course, there is no way to make such polls truly random. After all which homes in which neighborhoods do you go to? Further, with face to face interviews the respondent may be inclined to give the answers which they think the interviewer wants to hear. This is particularly significant in Venezuela because most major polling firms there are affiliated with the opposition. Taken together these facts have led to most polls being viewed as having an anti-Chavez bias.

However, none of this is to say that polls in Venezuela should be completely ignored. It is just to say they should always be taken with along with a dose of skepticism.


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