Saturday, July 23, 2005

Beating the dead poll horse 

This subject is probably beyond boring at this point but there is some new polling information that should be commented on. One of the major polling firms in Venezuela, Alfredo Keller and Associates, released the results of a new poll yesterday. In it they claimed that Chavez’s approval rating has fallen from 69% to 61% while those who disapprove of him increased from 22% to 28%.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. First, one will note that these polling numbers stand in marked contrast to other recent polls which put Chavez’s popularity at over 80%. That is a difference of 20 points on polls that all claim a margin of error of around 2%. Obviously, their accuracy leaves something to be desired. Venezuelan polls often have large disparities between one another even when conducted at the same time and asking the same basic questions. What this means is that Venezuelan polls have to be taken with a large grain of salt and should only be used to get general tendencies and trends not to try to get precise numbers. For example, from these recent polls we can see that Chavez is clearly supported by a large majority of Venezuelans as all the polls show that. But is his support 60% or 80%? There is no way to know.

The second thing of importance to note here is the politicalization of Venezuelan polling. For example, Keller releases this poll because it shows Chavez’s numbers supposedly declining. Yet while they now say that even their own polls showed him with a 69% approval rating recently they never published those poll results at the time. Why? Maybe because they didn’t want to publicize something that would reflect well on Chavez, a politician they clearly don’t like. Another example of this is during the Presidential Recall Referendum many of these large polling firms conducted exit polls but never released the results. Again, why? Maybe because the polls showed Chavez winning by a large margin which was something the opposition didn’t accept? In any event, this is another reason why all polls in Venezuela should be taken with a grain of salt no matter what they show. Read them. Just realize they are not necessarily an exact reflection of reality.

Getting back to the Keller poll for a second. Alfredo Keller, the president of the firm, gave one of the possible reasons for the decline – that Chavez has recently spent much time on foreign policy issues which don’t do anything to boost his support inside the country. Well, if Chavez’s popularity has indeed declined and this is the only way it can happen the opposition is indeed in trouble. After all prior to any election I think Chavez will actually spend most of his time in Venezuela dealing with domestic issues and campaigning. Then where will his popularity be? 80% again?


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?