Predictions by pollsters A,B,C and D (top) for the Sunday election. In the lower half, the same predictions adjusted for the undecided in three scenarios. Red indicates which candidate wins in each scenario.
Predicting elections in Venezuela has always been tough. I am no pollster, nor do I have the feel for what the people of Tucupita are thinking, even if when I was a kid when asked where I was born, I thought it was cool to say I was born in that city in Delta Amacuro.
In the last election, most reliable pollsters were saying Rosales was doing badly, but there was one prediction that said the opposite, wholly confusing me. I have since erased him form my studies as I did not dare predict the outcome.
And then came this election, where pollsters had either a close race, or a large Chavez advantage but an even larger number of undecided. Even worse, the number of undecided did not decrease in time, leading to the question: How can it be that in such a divided and polarized country, there can be such a large number of undecided voters?.
In the table above, I show the four pollsters I consider to be serious and their last predictions. Some don’t have decimals because I have been dictated numbers over the phone or been given the numbers in pieces of paper. Since I don’t pay for any of them, I don’t give the names associated to each, labelled A,B, C and D.
What I have done is to say that since I don’t believe that the large “undecided” all really exist, these people must be hiding something. Therefore, there has to be a large bias among them towards Capriles, after all, it is the Government that instills fear in them. Thus, I consider three scenarios in which for all of the polls, the undecided divide themselves 60% for Capriles, 70% for Capriles and 80% for Capriles. To me, the middle scenario 70% for Capriles/30% for Chávez is likely to be the more realistic one.
Given that, the four pollsters are split evenly. However, I can never forget the advice given to me by pollster Segundo Cazalis long ago, pay attention to the trends more than the numbers. And the trend has been Capriles’ friend for the last two months. Even in the most Chavista polls, Capriles has been rising.
With this information, and the fact that most of those polls above were made before Sept. 20th. , those two additional weeks and the campaign closing rallies should tip Capriles over the top and he should win, in my opinion, by 1% to 2%, barely 140,000 to 200,000 votes. Too close for comfort.
I could throw in abstention, which I think will be near 30% and increase the lead by an additional 1%, but I will leave it at this: A tight Capriles win with 140,000 to 300,000 votes advantage.
It is a small number. It may keep us up until the wee hours of the night Sunday evening, since the CNE clearly said it will not call the election until the trend was “irreversible”. (At the lower end foreign votes will be needed to call the winner) If larger, we could go to bed earlier, but this is as far as I can predict given the knowledge that I have.
Hope I am right!