My First (Non) Prediction On The Venezuelan Presidential Election

September 24, 2012

I just spent a week in Caracas. I talked to anyone that claims to have a relevant number on the elections. Well, not everyone, I did not ask Jesse to meet with me, I am not sure he even goes out and runs polls. I heard all sorts of anecdotes, including one that went something like this: “In my maid’s family, all but the maid (Funny, how it is always that way!)  voted for Chavez in 2006, there are seven of them and four will vote for Capriles this time around, add my maid, that is five out of seven, Capriles will win.

I did see a few pollsters, not Consultores 21, they were in New York, giving their old numbers that say Capriles is ahead by 2%, but the margin of error is 2.3%. I heard part of a Datanalisis talk, but their numbers where superseded by new ones today. These say that Chavez has a ten point advantage over Capriles 47% to 37%, with 15.5% undecided.Funny how Chavez has not moved from 46-47% all summer.

However, I can’t quite comprehend these Datanalisis results when I see this private poll by the same pollster in Miranda State, in which Capriles wins by 16%. Given that Chavez won in 2006 versus Rosales by 13%, then this represents a shift of 29% in the electorate since 2006, in a state that is as heterogeneous as you can get (rural, urban, better off and poor, but in Class D, Capriles is ahead) and which represents 10% of the country’s population. Moreover, this State is contiguous with some of the most populous states that will be key to the election in October. It is difficult to envision that there has not been at least some shift in these states and that the 10% Datanalisis advantage to Chavez seems, at least to me, to be rather inconsistent.

It is also true that in the most rural states, which have smaller populations, Chavez won by as much as 40% in 2006, which implies that some of the differences can be compensated, but 10% still seems to large. To say nothing of the undecided in a country as polarized as Venezuela is today. The latter can be explained by the fact that Datanalisis asks a very open question, which includes, “Chavez”, “Capriles”,  “other”, “none” and even “don´t know” in the question. Or so I was told…

I also heard all sorts of anecdotes, such as “My neighbor, who works at the Ministry, says Capriles is ahead by 1%” or “My friend who is an expert on Chavismo, is leaving the country”. And so on…

But after this flooding of my mind with information, here is my conclusion, after processing my data with my slide rule, which you are likely to like as much as my friends who called me to tell me I was crazy to think that (They are my friends!):

The race, last week, based mostly on polls carried out before the infrastructure accidents in Cupira, Amuay and El Palito is too close to call based on the pollsters that I follow and numbers that I saw. Even in the best of cases, Capriles is ahead by a value which is within the margin of error.

There, get mad at me for not being more positive.

Are you over it? Then here is the caveats:

-Momentum is clearly in Capriles’ favor: His rallies have grown, people want to see him, touch him and he is now more accepted than he was two or three months ago. He creates “Fervor”

-Chavez’s campaign is fairly incoherent, he shows up every other day and his time campaigning is less and less every day.

-The opposition voter is much more motivated at this time. This has always been the case, but it may be magnified on October 7th. As a pro-Chavez analyst told me, “pro-Chavez voters may not vote for Capriles, but they are more than likely to stay home, rather than go and vote. Chavez campaign is very disorganized, which explains the failed rallies”

-Anti-fraud measures seem to be in place, with three opposition witnesses scheduled to be at almost all polling stations, the biggest obstacle being intimidation. (Witnesses have already been told in no uncertain terms not to show up again in some stations)

-Abstention is key. Most pollsters predict 26-27% abstention, less than that (25%), it favors Chavez, more than that (30%) Capriles wins.

But I am a numbers guy. From everything that I saw, heard and absorbed, this race is too close to call, it is 50/50, even, dead heat, too close to call. My heart wants to say 51%. I just can’t…yet.

Just don’t hate me, this is the way I see it and I would love to change my mind before the election.

Will certainly keep you posted, that’s what the Devil does, post, post, post.

58 Responses to “My First (Non) Prediction On The Venezuelan Presidential Election”

  1. This is my first time pay a quick visit at here
    and i am genuinely happy to read everthing at one place.

  2. Kaitlyn Says:

    Hello there! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!

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  3. Me ha agradado bastante esta pagina titulada My First (Non)
    Prediction On The Venezuelan Presidential Election | The Devil’s Excrement .

  4. Encontre esta pagina hace una semana y aqui estoy de
    vuelta. Me gusta

  5. firepigette Says:

    By using the term winning we obscure the fact that the election has been stolen.

  6. firepigette Says:


    Isn’t the presence of fingerprinting counted as part of the fear factor or does it just refer the polls?

    “sweeps the principle of freedom of suffrage right off the table.”

    you can say that again which is why I object to people even referring to Chavez ” win”.

    In terms neuro-linguistic affect of constantly repeating that Chavez might win, even though by unfair means,takes the focus away from the unfairness and reinforces the winning aspect.

  7. Ronaldo Says:

    If Chavez wins, he will immediately seek to destroy the opposition. Taking funds and power from opposition regions and politicians. Jailing opposition leaders and supporters. Creating laws making PSUV the official communist party and outlawing all others like Cuba.

    Capriles must and will win on Oct 7th. The polls are not reflecting how people will vote on Oct 7th.

  8. Eric Says:

    None of the polls take into account the fear factor, the perfectly natural tendency (in an authoritarian state) of a certain percentage of respondents to lie to the pollster when asked who they’re going to vote for. Penn Schoen Berland quantified this factor at 7% in the 2006 elections (see for a thumbnail description of how they did it) and Alfredo Keller estimates it at a minimum of 8%, possibly as much as 10% this time around.

    This means that in order to take a real hearts & minds measurement of what Venezuelans are thinking of doing, you have to subtract 8 points minimum from Chavez’s poll numbers and add 8 points to Capriles’.

    55% to 40% is what you feel in the streets in Venezuela today. And for my money, that’s how people expect to vote on Oct 7th. I say “expect”, because when they finally get to cast their vote they’re going to have to run the thumbprint-scanner-connected-to-the-voting-machine gauntlet ( and that in itself is going cause a substantial percentage of the 20-point lead Capriles now enjoys to defect.

    Big enough to swing the vote in Chávez’s favor? Could be. Is anybody watching TV in Venezuela these days? Have you seen all those wonderful “institutional” ads the government’s running about the Misión Vivienda and the beautiful furnished hom that will be yours, free, if (as it is not-so-subliminally suggested) you do the right thing on Oct 7th? Will the desire for change overcome the fear of being blacklisted? We’ll find out soon enough.

    Why Aveledo and other Capriles spokesmen keep insisting that the elections won’t be fair but they will be free is completely baffling to me. The mere presence at the polling booth of devices which whisper I-know-how-you’re-voting (and whether it’s true or not doesn’t really matter, it’s the perception that counts) sweeps the principle of freedom of suffrage right off the table.

  9. Kepler Says:

    Capriles has done an outstanding work so far. As we all know, we are fighting against billions of petrodollars and absence of rule of law (think region’s budgets being reduced against constitution – petrodollar at 50% for budget, etc)

    Now what I have been telling my clans in Venezuela for months:

    we need to be preparing for plan B. That is: whatever comes in October, this is not a battle but a war.

    If Chávez wins, the leading figures in the opposition must keep united and above all develop an information campaign throughout the country.
    Remember: there isn’t A Venezuela. That’s something perhaps some people in Caracas-Maracaibo-Valencia believe in. There are several Venezuelan regions. Capriles has reached out to them, but this is a recent event. We need to keep going there and
    1) inform about how the Boliburgueses are ripping off the nation – flyers with information on concrete cases of REGIONAL and national provenance
    2) show how Chavismo fears real debate and what is actually a real debate
    3) talk about the meaning of pluralism, the difference between government and state and accountability (these are not concepts for political scientists – if you know how to express that in clear Spanish)
    4) show how dependant we are on oil and how above all Russians, Chinese and other foreigners are profiting from it
    5) show how we stand relative to murder rate in the world
    6) show how Chavismo lies about education (Venezuela doesn’t take part in international evaluation schemes since 1998 but for one region – Miranda)

    We need to understand how the extreme left kept infiltrating the military, the slums and key populations (that is not just Caracas-Valencia-Maracaibo but anything that right now has over 100 thousand inhabitants) for decades.

    Oil prices can’t keep going up forever. Chavez is mismanaging the economy.
    When the system starts to crack more quickly we need to have the population better informed than what it is now.

    The worst we can do is to bet it all on 7 October and then panic.
    The best we can do is keep pounding with information for months. If we do, in a year or two you will see a lot of huge changes for good.

    • syd Says:

      good advice. Whatever the outcome of 7O, I trust that work done by MUD, so far, will continue. I also trust that the oppo will have made important gains throughout the country. Finally, I reiterate my belief that Capriles will have a very influential effect on Venezuelan politics in the near, medium and long-term.

  10. […] the campaigning goes on, while Datanálisis comes up with puzzling […]

  11. For the record, I’m even more fence-sitty than you!

    You say it’s 50-50, but in its own way that’s already a prediction…a prediction that it will be close.

    I won’t even go there. It might be close. But not necessarily. Maybe Datanalisis is right. Chávez could still win 54-46.

    Or he might not…

    Flores de Bach pa to’el’mundo…

  12. CharlesC Says:

    (Possible)News Alert!
    Babalu says-“Seems that Castrolandia is all atwitter with rumors of some drastic turn in Fidel’s health — a grave crisis or even a well-concealed death.”

    Would that influence the election outcome? Chavez would have to stop campaigning and go to Cuba!
    (Would Capriles go? jajajaa)

  13. CharlesC Says:

    O/T How many people in Venezuela do not have electricity?
    And, everyone I know in Venezuela has gas stove for cooking.
    I don’t want to start people howling -but maybe- everyone should
    have free gas for cooking.
    Seems I was reading some of Chavez’s new apartments were
    all electric.[And, no water, no place for wastewater to go, ie unliveable..just a show]

    Not much time to talk about things like sustainability,etc.-nobody is very
    interested in Venezuela anyway…

    It really saddened me to hear Capriles come out and say he would remain
    a part of ALBA-hell, is he going to end up being Chavez-lite?

    • island canuck Says:

      “I don’t want to start people howling -but maybe- everyone should
      have free gas for cooking.”

      An 18kg bottle of gas only costs Bs.8 & lasts for months.
      At current rates that’s less than $1 so it’s almost free already.

      Oh, I forgot. There’s a shortage & they’re hard to come by.

      • CharlesC Says:

        Thank you,IC. Many Venezuelans here inFl send boxes of food each month to Venezuela. But, food is very expensive here plus the shipping. Yet, one lady in particular- who does the most- all are paid to her in advance.
        (We ship to relatives -but not food and everything we send is free even though they could afford to pay us)Anyway- the lady I refer to ships a lot of boxes of candy- I can’t believe it. And, I have seen so many Venezuelans come here-go to Disney and pack up a whole suitcase of candy.
        So, maybe start a candy business in Venezuela -?
        I tried to start a solar business-and all were afraid. I think I will check into
        a candy business-as much as I think it is a waste- No, I can’t spend my time
        selling candy??
        O/T but maybe we should do “imaginary debates” between Capriles and
        Chavez…zzzzzzzzzzz Everybody knows what the problem is- it’s Chavez.

        Chavez actually was asked about debates- and he said something like
        “How can I debate nothing?” I would like to slap his face when he responds like that…

  14. José Says:

    Totally unrelated, yet another very importat sign of corruption in Venezuela:

    Reuters.- Según informe del Fondo Monetario Internacional, Corea del Sur y Paraguay elevaron sus reservas de oro, mientras que Venezuela redujo sus reservas en 3,733 toneladas a 362,053 toneladas el mes pasado.

    Corea del Sur elevó sus reservas de oro en casi 16 toneladas en julio, al igual que Paraguay, que aumentó sus tenencias en el mismo mes desde unos pocos miles de onzas a más de 8 toneladas, continuando la tendencia entre bancos centrales a acumular más lingotes.

    Según un informe del Fondo Monetario Internacional, Corea del Sur agregó 15,988 toneladas de oro para llevar sus reservas a 70,44 toneladas en julio. El banco central surcoreano fue uno de los mayores compradores de oro en el 2011.

    Paraguay aumentó sus tenencias de oro en 7,527 toneladas a 8,194 toneladas hace dos meses, mientras que Venezuela redujo sus reservas en 3,733 toneladas a 362,053 toneladas el mes pasado.

    En agosto, Turquía y Ucrania aumentaron sus reservas del metal precioso. Turquía elevó sus reservas de oro en 6,625 toneladas a 295,513 toneladas, mientras que Ucrania sumó 1,87 toneladas de lingotes para llevar sus reservas a 34,836 toneladas, según cifras del FMI.

    Otros países que sumaron montos más pequeños a sus reservas en agosto incluyeron a Kazajistán, Kirguistán, Mongolia, Rusia y Serbia, mientras que México realizó un modesto recorte de sus reservas del metal precioso.

    • Ronaldo Says:

      Venezuela sold off 3.733 tons of gold last month. That is about US$120 million. Where did these funds go? Or did the gold just disappear into Chavista pockets.

  15. CharlesC Says:

    Thinking about Chavez’s ads with the corazon, etc. Chavez -in spite of all the bad things he has done and said-expects people to believe he is good
    and believe in him with all their hearts? It sickens me to think that someone can lie before the whole world this way and yet many do believe in Chavez.
    And of course, the Chavez message is Capriles is bad. Everything bad.
    That simple. That stupid. And, if the poll is correct,then, there are a bunch of
    brainwashed Venezuelans that need deprogramming.(A long and difficult process.)

    I can’t believe it comes down to a (virtual?) battle between good and evil.
    What century is this anyway?

    • firepigette Says:

      Charles C,

      I am not always sure it is good vs evil, unless you consider’ stupidity’ a part of true evil, which is valid on many levels.

      I have several Chavista friends who are as good as gold, and as smart as whips.One is even a psychiatrist.I think they are so touched by the fact that the ” revolution” is coming from a Venezuelan ethnic base, that the emotions concerning this simply bias them against seeing any other reality.This is not strange,It is quite normal really.

      In the same way, there are people who believe so strongly in helping the poor,that no amount of evidence that the poor are not being helped by a particular set of social programs,can convince them and it is useless to appeal to facts or logic.

  16. firepigette Says:

    How can anybody be more realistic while at the same time being positive or negative ?…please tell me.

    Saying that we don’t know with all certainty would be the more realistic and honest version I should think unless any of us are psychic.

  17. moctavio Says:

    Oh yes, Capriles wins easily in Caracas, that is the ambiance you perceive. But you need to lose by a small amounts in states where Chavez won by 40% in 2006.

  18. Dear Miguel, one week in CCS, even if you´re NUMBERS guy, is not enough to grasp the ambiance! For the first time ever I disagree with the Devil, I accept that the the race is close, but not as close as the Devils wants us to believe.

  19. […] the campaigning goes on, while Datanálisis comes up with puzzling […]

  20. Anónimo Says:

    According to Datanalisis, in 2010 mid-term elections there were 52 Chavistas 48 opp. and 30 “DK/NA”. Aren’t these guys something else?

  21. Dr. Faustus Says:

    “There, get mad at me for not being more positive.”


    But, how about being more realistic? Sorry, the future for the opposition has never looked brighter, regardless of who wins on October 7th. Yes, I said regardless. Were Chavez to win on October 7th the massive financial debt bomb that has been created by the Chavistas over the past 24 months will be one day closer to,….exploding. Big time. Already there are predictions that Venezuela will not be able to make their interest payments during the second half of 2013. Remember those 12%+ interest payments on the bonds? Er, ah, where’s the money gonna come from? After October 7th everything will collapse. It was planned that way. It’s at the very core as to how Chavez runs his government. The infrastructure disasters will get worse, the crime rates will skyrocket and there will be, must be (!), a currency devaluation. In other words the Chavistas have brought Venezuela to the edge of a cliff.

    Now, Hugo Chavez has malignant cancer. He’s not gonna make it for another 6 months, maybe 8. Doesn’t matter. There will be another election within a year. No question. The revelations of the impending financial disaster that is Venezuela will become more apparent after October 7th. Has to. It will be breathtaking for people to behold. Who are they, the Chavistas, gonna put as their replacement candidate? Who? Bottom line: There will be a change of government in Venezuela shortly. Perhaps on October 7th, perhaps later. But, it’s coming. That’s what’s in the cards.

    “There, get mad at me for being more realistic.”

  22. moctavio Says:

    According to Datanalisis in the 2010 Parliamentary election, the opposition would not stop Chavez from obtaining a 66% majority and would get less than 50% of the votes. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Oh yeah, we also lost the 2007 referendum, according to the same source.

    • You know as much as I always agree with you Miguel in this particular subject I don’t.
      Yes the oppo won the 2007 Referendum but that was a throwaway, he could afford to lose it -as much as he might have not liked it at the time. It was just a bump on the road. Fourteen months later what happened, he got what he wanted anyway. And now he has the patina of “democracy” on top of it.

      The 2010 Parliamentaries? essentially the same thing, yes he lost the vote but did he lose any power? Nah.

      My concern with Presidential elections in Venezuela is that Chavez can’t afford to lose. Can you envision Chavez acknowledging defeat? It will never happen.

      • moctavio Says:

        George: Thanks you with agreeing with my other 5870 posts 🙂

        Now, you may agree with this one too. I think that Capriles has a chance to win, what Chavez can, may or will do is a different problem. It is up to the opposition to manage that. In some sense I prefer a close result, because I believe that Chavez has to stop the counting before it starts if he is to stop a Capriles victory. If it is close, he may not.

        • Miguel thank you so much for responding to my post. Sincerely, I think your posts are the most intelligent and original of all the venezuelan blogs.

          OK, so you say “…what Chavez can, may or will do is a different problem.”.

          As The Eagles would say, that is “the heart of the matter”.

          So, regardless of the actual vote tally, Tibsay will come out at 2:30ish in the morning and announce that Chavez won 54 to 46.
          The details will not published for several months -if ever.
          What happens next?

          The observers are not inside the CNE, so they will simply report that the process of voting was perfectly ok.
          Internationally no one will say anything in support of the opposition.
          Reuters? AP? these are all leftist news organizations.
          The New York Times? Wash Post? don’t make me laugh.
          Do you think the OEA will say a peep? or Obama or Hillary?, who are ideologically aligned with Chavez. (yes they are!) China? Russia? France now with its own leftist PM? Spain’s Rajoy would be a good one if they weren’t in the financial mess they are in. Santos?

          Bottom Line: Chavez will not lose because he cannot afford to lose. He will cheat and he will get away with it. All the polling, the size of the attendance to his meetings, his health. None of this matters.
          It’s over. Do you think Chavez wants to go to jail or live in exile?

          • moctavio Says:

            Aja! The opposition political parties will have one witness each in the totalization room on the night of October 7th. The opposition will be adding the printouts of the machines simultaneously in a different center.

            If you allow the totaling to start, i. e. the transmissions begin to occur, it will be almost impossible for Tibisay or the Government to deny the result. There will be half a dozen representatives from the opposition seeing the numbers as they come out. What are you going to do with them and with the lone oppo representative on the Electoral Board?

            Thus, my belief is that only if Chavez knows he is losing big, will he stop the results before they begin to add them and claim victory. I really think it will be quite transparent if we were cheated, we will have copies of the actas (totals) everywhere, generated by the CNE’s machines. Chavez would have to create a parallel total, very hard in my mind.

            • deananash Says:

              Miguel, I hope you’re right. From what I’ve seen and know of the world, it won’t matter if everyone knows Chavez cheated. NO ONE CARES. As long as the oil flows…

              Many people agree with the adage: “People get the government that they deserve.”

              I’m sorry, but I can’t see Chavez leaving via the ballot box.

  23. Rizo Says:

    According to datanalisis numbers, Capriles would need almost all the “nini” voters to win. Even if he have the 85% of them, the result will be a tie, i think we are all screwed up.

  24. megaescualidus Says:


    If what you’re saying is true and if he does loose, it’ll be pretty easy for Chavez to steal his win out of the election. In any case, faltan 12 dias.

  25. firepigette Says:

    Roy says that Chavista voters are suggestible , but I say most people in general are that way, and as I recall many people in Venezuela get darn angry if you disagree with them, specifically in politics; thus the worry Miguel might have that people will hate him for his post.It’s all part of the group-think curse.

    I recall when Chavez won his first election, and I was the only one at school who did not like him.I saw the hysteria, and the euphoria and people were furious at me for disagreeing…I could not have cared less.

    We are slowly developing this curse in the US as well as seen from the hatred between Liberal Democrats, and Conservatives.Nothing but utter bullshit if you ask me.Because of this hatred I refuse to vote in the US.

    I am irritated with the upcoming elections in Venezuela.We are talking about numbers without stories.How can we even consider that Chavez could actually win rather than steal.The stealing has taken place over the years in so many ways.

    It’s the stories behind the numbers that can give us the real picture, of how honest, or dishonest the elections can possibly be.

  26. Carlos Says:

    Capriles will win with 7,8M votes. Remember Noones will pass the 8M votes mark. With 20-25% of abstention Capriles gets 52% of valid votes!

  27. CharlesC Says:

    “Chavez Yes, Castro no” expressed in Act of the Government candidate campaignVA / GlobovisiónShare on emailShare on facebook_likePeople who attended the Act of campaign of the Government candidate, Hugo Chávez, carried a banner that read “Chavez Yes, Castro no”, which could be seen fleetingly through the channel of the State.It was noted that those who operated the camera quickly removed that image so not the message which rejects the current Governor of the State, Castro Soteldo continue reading.Later, when the camera returned to focus on the site where it was previously the banner, it had been withdrawn”

    Is it possible? Do some chavistas have some active neuron connections
    forming in the area where a brain is supposed to be located?

  28. guest Says:

    And there’s something that might completely change the outcome of the election on the election day itself: how is Chavez going to manage doing the actual voting? He needs to be seen voting early in the day to motivate his followers, but he can’t really walk anymore. Is the CNE going to move the voting machine to the outside so he doesn’t have to walk so much? Is he going to have someone help him walk (and risk looking like a cripple on election day)?

    • Ronaldo Says:

      Chavez is making fewer and fewer appearances. If his vote is televised or not, it will make little difference. He can stand and walk some. This may be all it takes.

      Chavez the “track suit commandante” ( just like hero in Cuba “track suit Fidel”) never turns down a chance for public exposure.

  29. Roberto N Says:

    No reason to hate you, Miguel!

    You call them as you see them and that is a good thing,especially since anyone who reads you knows you are an honest broker.

    The momentum is key, it has been a long marathon and not a sprint and Capriles has shown he can run for long distances and do so well.

    After January 10th, 2013, Capriles may have to learn to run the Hurdles and the 100 meter dash, but for now he is doing it right, 10,000 meters like a Kenyan!!

  30. Roy Says:

    “In my maid’s family, all but the maid (Funny, how it is always that way!) voted for Chavez in 2006, there are seven of them and four will vote for Capriles this time around, add my maid, that is five out of seven, Capriles will win.”

    Interesting anecdote. I expienced something similar with my maid. Through contact with me and some other expats she was working for, she was against Chavez. Yet, later, she ended up taking a temporary Chavista job during a previous election, and through contact with the Chavistas and attending their meetings (mandatory), she was swayed back to the Chavista camp.

    Basically, I determined that a lot of Chavez’s base are people who are highly “suggestible”, meaning they do not have their own convictions, but adopt those of the group that they have the most contact with. In order for Chavez to mobilize this type of person, he must establish an emotional “contact” with them, something he has been very good at doing in the past, but which he is not doing nearly as well in this election, due to his illness. All of his air-time and ads cannot make up for the lack of his personal presence.

    I think that the Chavista abstention will be high, this time around.

  31. JotaE Says:

    Miguel, your analysis coincides with Dr. Sagarzazu’s conclusion that Varianzas seemed to be the least biased pollster, and they are showing a tie with momentum for Capriles.

  32. NicaCat56 Says:

    Diablo, will you be able to vote? And, if so, will you? Stay safe, mi amigo.

  33. geronl Says:

    Protecting the polling station is the best way to stop fraud.

  34. Javier Says:

    To me, having the “opposition” received 52 % of the total votes on the National Assembly elections two years ago, I don’t see how Chavez can win unless opposition does not protect the votes at the voting stations.

    • moctavio Says:

      Javier: The Assembly did not have Chavez running, people who voted vor an opposition Deputy from their state may easily vote for Chavez, the emotional connection is totally different. Remember he lost the Constitutional referendum and pulled off the reelection referendum 14 months later, the second one was about him, the first one had many other things in it.

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