Monday, October 03, 2005

Chavez still has their hearts 

Last week I gave some poll numbers from the Hinterlaces polling firm that seemed a little off. The question was whether they were simply an aberation, erroneous, or represented a new trend. In the past couple of weeks some other poll numbers have come out which shed some more light on this. I am referring specifically to the numbers presented by Alfredo Keller and Associates which is one of the largest, and most anti-Chavez, polling firms. An article summarizing the Keller results can be found here while the complete power point presentation can be found here.

The Power Point presentation first gives some updated polling numbers. And what do they show? That Chavez is supported by 59% of the population and opposed by 41%. This is almost exactly the same margin he won by in last years referendum and more or less in line with all the other polls that have shown his support oscillating between 60 and 80 percent. And these numbers are further broken down. Of the 59% who support Chavez 30% are strong supporters while 29% are moderate supporters. Of the 41% who support the opposition 15% are strong supporters while 26% are moderate supporters. So there are twice as many strong Chavez supporters as there are strong opposition supporters. Certainly not much in these numbers to hearten the opposition.

Then we get to what the opposition has wound up focusing on – the supposed intention of only 45% of those polled to vote for Chavez. This appears on slide 19 of the presentation which is entitled “The ‘popularities’ of Chavez”. This slide gives what it says are four different indicators of Chavez’s popularity.

The first is just his plain “popularity” which it defines as the level of liking or approving of him. This number is 61%. Why is it different from the 59% given a few slides before – got me. Escualido math I guess. It then gives a couple other results on who people would prefer win the next election (49%) or how many people want an alternative to Chavez to arise (45%).

But the final number it gives is what the opposition has been trying to emphasize. It asks peoples intention to vote “if the elections were to be held right now” and gives a result of 45%. Now what the some in the opposition have been grasping at is interpreting this number to mean only 45% of those polled would vote for Chavez right now. While its possible that is what that number means it really isn’t at all clear. They don’t give the actual question asked and it may well be that people were simply stating whether or not they intend to vote – not necessarily whether they will vote for Chavez. What is more, they don’t ask how many would vote for any potential opponent of Chavez. So if the opposition thinks Chavez is vulnerable based on just these numbers they are indeed grasping at straws.

So some ambiguities not withstanding the Keller poll shows that Chavez still enjoys the support of a large majority of Venezuelans and would almost certainly easily win any electoral contest. I think he’ll take that any day.


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