Saturday, October 14, 2006

Full of Love, Chavez cruises along 

It was noted with much fanfare that Chavez came out with some new campaign themes last week – notably his “Love” advertisements. The opposition has been unable to make heads or tails of these ads and view them as an act of desperation by Chavez. Lets have a look for ourselves:

This is the print ad appearing in newspapers. It always appears with the same wording which is:

Message of Love for the people of my Venezuela

Always, I have done things because of love.

Out of love for trees and rivers, I became a painter.

Out of love of learning, I left my beloved small town to study.

Out of love of sports, I became a baseball player.

Out of love for my homeland, I became a soldier.

Out of love for my people, I became president; all of you made me president.

I have governed these past 8 years out of love.

Out of love, we made “Barrio Adentro”

Out of love, we made “Mission Robinson”

Out of love, we made Mercal.

Everything we have done is because of love.

Yet there is still much to do.

I need more time.

I need your vote.

Your vote for love.

Here is the T.V. commercial where he gives the exact same message. It is worth watching:

I’m not sure what Chavez’s opponents are so confused about because the message in these advertisements seems crystal clear. The message is that everything that Chavez does is out of love; that is he doesn’t do anything that he doesn’t genuinely LOVE and WANT to do. Listing the main events of his live he shows how everything he ever did was something that he truly wanted to do. In a similar vain, everything he has done as President results from his genuine love of the Venezuelan people and he truly believes in everything he has done.

All that seems straightforward and nice but why build a campaign advertisement blitz around it? Simple. Right now his main opponent, Manuel Rosales, is trying to paint himself as someone who will do even MORE than what Chavez has to help ordinary Venezuelans. If some Venezuelans believe that then they may decide to vote for him.

To counter that the “Love” theme reinforces the notion that Chavez will continue to govern for the benefit of ordinary Venezuelans because he loves them and truly believes in the importance of helping them. The not so subtle inference is that Rosales DOESN’T truly care about ordinary Venezuelans and DOESN’T really even believe in all these new proposals he is touting.

Who would you vote for – someone who says what he believes and believes what he says or someone trying to sell you a bill of goods only to probably forget about you 5 minutes after the election is over? I think it is precisely that question that these advertisements want people to be thinking about as they vote on December. And I think they will be effective.


Irrespective of any new campaign advertising strategies Chavez’s march to re-election is moving forward without missing a beat. In the latest poll by Datos Chavez is holding steady with a “intention to vote for” of 54.4% with Manuel Rosales at 24.8%, Roussea bumping along the bottom at 2.7%, and 18.1% still undecided. In other words, Chavez has a lead of almost 30 points over his nearest rival. This even after Rosales has gotten a 6 point boost in his numbers from the 18% they were just a month ago.

The same poll showed that even many of Rosales supporters don’t really expect him to win. When asked who they thought would win, irrespective of their own preferences, 66.3% think Chavez will win while only 16% think Rosales will win.

When asked about their likelihood of voting 66.4% said they would definitely vote and 17.5% said they might vote with the rest saying most likely they won’t.

Just for fun I did some back of the envelope calculations. There are about 16 million registered voters in Venezuela. Assuming 70% actually vote that gives a turnout of 11.2 million voters. Further assuming Chavez gets 60% of the vote (ie, most of the undecided voters go to Rosales) that comes to 6.7 million votes for Chavez.

That certainly is a far cry from the famous slogan of “Ten million votes for Chavez”. Then again I always knew that wasn’t really a realistic goal. Still Chavez would probably like to get at least 7.5 to 8 million votes to make it harder to revoke his mandate three years from now. If he had done something over the past few years to eliminate some of the glaring failures of his government such as crime he would be shoe-in for 8 million votes but now it will be an uphill struggle to get them. We’ll see if the “Love” advertising theme helps.


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