Looking at the December Elections

October 22, 2012

Given that I believe that it was the high turnout that decided the recent Presidential election in Chavez’ favor, it is important to consider what may or not happen in the upcoming Gubernatorial elections.

The high turnout tells me the following:

-Chavismo has a voting majority. (We lost big time!)

-This majority votes and can only be mobilized when Chavez is directly involved in the election. (2006,2009,2012)

-The opposition, with limited resources, does well in all other elections (2007,2010)

Thus, there is reason to be hopeful in the upcoming election. On the plus side:

-Some of Chavez’ picks will find resistance among the electorate

-Some regional leaderships for the opposition are strong

On the negative side:

-The unity behind the opposition is strained

-The opposition voters are discouraged, they thought they had a chance and now they don’t know what to think

-The confusion between abuse of power and fraud does not help, neither does questioning the presence of witnesses in the last election.

The last point is particularly important. The opposition has 90%+ of the Actas printed by the voting machines. This proves we had ample coverage by witnesses. It was not 100%, but it was 90%+, over 20 points better than it was ever done.

What is the complaint? That the opposition does not have the results of the audits too. But you have not heard anyone complaining that some audits showed a big discrepancy, have you? In fact, I have not heard any witness say publicly there was even a discrepancy, so that the discussion seems to be very ethereal.

Clearly, Chavismo will try to use the same strategy as it did on October 7th. But will it devote the same resources? Will people go out as much as they do for their beloved autocrat?

History says no, but at the same time it seemed that history said that abstention could not be lower than the 25% in 2006.

But it was. A similar miscalculation of 5 percentage points and the results will be quite different in the Gubernatorial elections.

But what is clear, is that if the opposition is discouraged, then our chances truly drop rapidly. Right now, talking to people here in Caracas, people seem very discouraged. Hopefully, they will change before December. But more importantly, the leadership in the opposition will not be responsible for keeping people away from the polls, like they have seemed to be trying in the last few days.

52 Responses to “Looking at the December Elections”

  1. moctavio Says:

    No, election fraud is when you manipulate the vote itself. A dishonest person may be called a fraud, but it is not.

    The difference to me is very important. People know this Government takes advantage of everything for the elections, but does that mean we should not vote? I dont think so, but that is my personal opinion.

    I think we should restrict the use of the word “fraud” in voting processes to such things as tampering with the machines, the voter rolls and the like. But I certainly would not call it fraud that the fingerprint machines intimidated, or that voters were taken to the polls (The opposition also took voters to the polls, for example)

    You say fraud is fraud, but everything illegal is not fraud. For example, for farud you have to deceive, the Chavistas said they were going to take people to vote. That is not a fraud.

    That the Government uses money from the State for its party’s campaign is fraud to the State, but not to the electoral process, it is iilegal.

    So, yes, I think you have to separate the two words. If I thought the voting process was fraudulent, I would stop voting. But I certainly want to beat Chavismo at the polls, despite the abuses of power. We have done it before, but peopel need to go and vote. By calling everything fraud you discourage it.

    BTW, I do think there was fraud in 2004. I also think we lost anyway.

  2. ElPeluo Says:

    Miguel, I don’t understand your constant differentiating between “abuse of power” and “fraud”. How is one different from the other? If someone does something illegal in order to influence the outcome of an election, then it’s fraud, period. There is no need to call it anything else. Whether the fraud was due to tweaking with the machines, adding ghost voters or using state funds to purchase votes and mobilize voters, etc, it’s still fraud.

    Fraud is fraud. Cheating is cheating. Illegal activity is illegal activity.

    I find the incessant need to differentiate between the two frustrating and irrelevant. People don’t care so much about “how” fraud was committed as much as they care about the fact that it was committed at all. It seems it’s an unnecessary differentiation being made. Whatever you want to call it, it was still illegal, cheating and gave them an unfair advantage.

  3. moctavio Says:

    Did you run the data on the 2010 elections?

  4. Manuel Says:

    Miguel, you keep saying that the large turnout is the main factor explaining the presidential election. Let me disagree with you and tell you why. Using data for almost all polling stations across the country I ran regressions controlling for state, rural and other characteristics, and found that one more percentage point in turnout only increases the difference between Chavez and Capriles in about a third of a percentage point in a polling station. According to this estimate, the larger turnout overall only explains about 2 percentage points of the 10 percentage point difference between Chavez and Capriles at the national level.

    • moctavio Says:

      That seems to contradict the data from the Parlamentary elections, where abstention was 27% where the opposition won 80% to 20%, to 36% where Chavismo won 80% to 20%. What happens if you segment it that way, which was the basis for my prediction.

      • moctavio Says:

        This is the chart:

        clearly, as you go from left to right, there is a huge change in abstention.

      • Manuel Says:

        I haven’t done that graph but I can tell you that a simple correlation of turnout with percentage-point difference between Chavez-Capriles is barely negative (actually it’s not significantly different from zero). So I’m guessing that that graph for the 7O election is not going to show any clear pattern in terms of “abstención”.

        • moctavio Says:

          That is correct, but the opposite is true, that less abstention in than in the 2010 election would help Chavismo, and that is what happened.

          • Manuel Says:

            To test that we would need to compare the results from the 2010 and 2012 elections across polling stations. There are some econometric techniques one can use to do that. The idea is to see to what extent the change in the percentage-point difference from the two elections is explained by the change in turnout. Your hypothesis seems plausible but it’s not necessarily true. For instance, there is no reason why “new” voters (those who did vote this election but didn’t do it in 2010) in the polling stations where Chavez won easily in 2010, which had relatively low turnout, are going to vote in the same proportion as those who did vote in that election. That could be part of the story, but not all. Another part of the story could be that in the 7O election, in polling stations where the opposition won easily in 2010, Capriles won by a smaller margin or even lost this time (Zulia, Carabobo and Miranda come to mind). This last effect might have nothing to do with turnout but with the fact that, for instance, this time Chavez was actually in the ballot.

            Unfortunately, I don’t have the data of the 2010 election nor the time to try to test your hypothesis.

  5. syd Says:

    Evidently, some folks are knee-deep in republican tea-party politics, and don’t have the benefit of a broad-based education, say in political science, to be able to distinguish propaganda woven with a few “excerpts” of the WSJ, included to fool readers into thinking they are digesting “news” that is more credible than the manipulative opinion of Pat Dollard.

    I don’t take this sh*t seriously. And I mean no offense to those who take it to heart, those who really believe that the opinion writers have a stake in the Truth.

  6. firepigette Says:


    Not too many are seeing the essential here but WSJ does

    • syd Says:

      Firepigette: Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s opinion in the Wall Street Journal of October 8, 2012, had this as its title: “Democracy Venezuelan-style” with no accompanying photo.

      Evidently, you chose to swallow Pat Dollard’s manipulative, fake and inflammatory title of “Wall Street Journal: Chavez Elections Totally Rigged”. And that’s your choice. But it’s galling when you, who repeatedly accused all Venezuelans of being naïve, promote phony US propaganda. Just sayin’, ya know?

      So do us a favor: how about verifying what you try to sell on this and other blogs. Have the acuity, for Gawd’s sake, of separating fact from fiction.

      Thanks in advance.

  7. Ira Says:

    I’ve loved reading and visiting here–but Miguel, I gotta tell you:

    It’s all over. Kiss the country goodbye, lose the optimism, and throw any faith away.

    You would better serve your readers by posting a comprehensive blog once a week, maybe less often, than try to follow the garbage that is now VZ on a daily basis.

    I know…I know…

    Call me a fly-by-night wanna be, but the insanity has gotten SO insane that I really think it’s time to say, “Fuck it all for now,” and don’t look back.

    Until it can actually do some good.

    • firepigette Says:

      Ira, I don’t think it is good to give up ever when it comes to fighting or exposing evil and wrong.

      Maybe it is too late to beat Chavez for some time( thanks to the pitiful strategy of cover ups by the opposition), but it is never too late to expose what is going on….something which the opposition is doing a very bad job at by the way.

      Some people have the illusion that Chavez is a dictator who actually wins fair and square elections.I wish the same people would absolutely define fair and square.

      This ridiculousness and dangerous idea must be exposed not only to
      Venezuela but to the world because it is setting a dangerous precedent in many ways.

      • TV Says:

        I can tell you that immediately. “Fair and square” to them means “my option wins”. No one in their right mind would support Chavez ideologically anyway.

      • Ira Says:

        I’m just trying to say it’s useless, and one need look no further than Cuba–a model Chavez hopes to emulate–to realize that it’s a lost cause:

        The VZ electorate has been dumbed down by 13 years of Chavez…threatened by job loss…bribed by phantom new home giveways and free beer and parties…brainwashed as to whom their foreign friends and enemies “really” are…and the most dangerous corruption of all:

        Conditioned to believe that justice and safety are a privilege–not a right.


        The saddest thing of all is that the world doesn’t really give a shit, as they really don’t give a shit about Cuba.

        Even with VZ’s oil, they’re becoming about as irrelevant on the world stage as Cuba, with its useless nickel. Oil is fungible, and there isn’t a Chinaman’s chance in hell that Hugo could/would stop selling to the U.S.

        And the realities of Capitalist markets–the only TRUE economic model that works–is that the buyer holds all of the power, not the seller.

  8. Bruni Says:

    The problem in December is not just the opposition discouragement, but the date. Kids school closes around the first week of december and then venezuelans travel abroad to spend the Christmas holidays elsewhere.

    So the date was strategically chosen for opposition families to be happily spending their CADIVI dollars away from the voting stations.

  9. syd Says:

    My thanks, Miguel, for the utterly charming photo, accompanying this post. Me encanta esa viejita — española, me imagino — montada en su andadera. Something to aspire towards as I age like a river stone.

  10. firepigette Says:

    What is the problem Chavez has in sharing control of the CNE?

  11. firepigette Says:

    I wish people would make up their minds:

    If we claim that the Venezuelan government is Authoritarian and there is no real freedom of press,no workable Justice system, and that Chavez has claimed to never allow the opposition to win, and that Chavez has increased his power to the status of dictator, then we must simultaneously admit that under such conditions there would not be free and fair elections.

    To claim the above is an oxymoron EVEN if their is no proof one way or the other.

    Instead of insisting that there is no proof that elections were fraudulent , we must start from the premise that they must be, even if we do not have the freedom to prove it.

    Those who insist on taking sides with Chavez by extolling the efficiency of the Chavez voting machine( when they have done nothing but complain about the absolute inefficiency of the Chavez government), must take time to pause and reflect on said contradictions.

    The only thing that can bring peace, and honesty to this situation is to remain constant in one’s views instead of justifying Chavismo – let us justify the opposition by reminding folks that in a repressed State with a dictator there can be NO free elections and that Capriles did an amazing job but that we have not insisted on the government giving up its control of the CNE.

    • TV Says:

      It’s not contradictory, you’re coming off a false dichtomy: either there are free and fair elections, or the elections are neither free nor fair.

      Venezuela is a strange case of free, but completely unfair elections. As a result the government must spend attrocious amounts of money to keep ‘winning’. Next year will be difficult for Venezuela and even more so for them with their acumen of a house fly.

  12. syd Says:

    Miguel, you forgot this one:

    -This majority of (chavista) votes includes a segment that was coerced to the polls by a cadre that had their contact information, based on their having signed up for free housing. It is reasonable to assume that this cadre of mobilizers and the list will persist, whether Chávez is in office, or not.

    • moctavio Says:

      Yes, that is correct, however, in the past we have seen that if Chavez himslef is not involved, people respond less. Will this repeat? I don’t know.

    • TV Says:

      That depends, quite heavily, on whether or not these people are
      a) afraid their vote is not secret and
      b) genuinely convinced they’ll get that house (or whatever) if they vote Chavista one more time

      The b) part is an obvious delusion, hence the need for opposition to claim elections weren’t compromised in this way and that Chavizmo will not deliver. The second part is a certainty, the first part a necessity.

      • Roger Says:

        I think many Venezuelan think that their vote is not secret. The question is why? We have speculated but, so far, we still don’t know exactly what was said by the barrio bosses to get everyone out to vote and for chavez. A free house? I don’t think so. Their not stupid they have heard this for 14 years now. The other question is why were not the same people packing the Chavez marches and rallies and chomping down on free arepas and beer?
        No free bus or subway ride to and from?

  13. Anelim Says:

    Miguel, thanks for hanging in there – writing. Your cautious optimism is very welcome. Other (English) bloggers seem to have thrown the towel. Thanks again.

  14. ya va, ya va, let’s not mix topics. Nobody says there is a problem with witnesses, that was a success. The thing that is being questioned now is that there was no effort to collect the results of the audits. We have the witness actas for 90%, therefore 90% of the witnesses were there when the Acta was printed. Since the audit takes place soon after that, why did this 27,000 witnesses suddenly dissappear? Did they? I just dont believe it. I havent heard anyone say until that comment that the audits did not take place, what I heard is that people were complaining that the audit reports were not collected, but I have not heard ONE person say there was a discrepancy in their audit.

    • syd Says:

      Why haven’t we heard from Leopoldo López who, prior to the elections, assured us that 100% of the witness actas were a done deal?

      • moctavio Says:

        I never heard him say 100%, more than 90% is 20% more than we ever did in any previous election.

        • syd Says:

          Then, I understood wrongly. I thought there was an announcement, just prior to 7O, that 100% had been achieved.

          In any event, has LL come forward with a post 7O summary of the experience from his organizational point of view?

  15. Kepler Says:

    Miguel: Caracas NO es Venezuela.
    Y ahora me dirás: pero yo tengo un amigo en Margarita y otro en Valencia y me dijeron que todo se hizo bajo plan. Pues te digo que es casi seguro que salieron de las mismas zonas que poca idea tienen de lo que pasa a 5 kilómetros de ellos.

    Ahora va a salir Syd: “necesito pruebas y si no las tienen, bien documentadas y escritas y todo, no las mencionen”.

    Te dije lo que ocurrió en Guacara. Hubo gente que se fue, que dejaron de contar cuando Lucena dio los resultados…así de simple.

    Te puedo asegurar que en San Diego, que queda al lado de Guacara, todas y cada una de las actas fue contada, toda la información se tenía a tiempo. San Diego, sin ser de clase alta, es la zona donde mejor organizada está la oposición, incluso mejor que la mayoría del Norte de Valencia.
    Bajas al sur, a la zona pobre de Valencia, y verás que allí las cosas de parte nuestra se hicieron a la caimanera, peor incluso que en Guacara.
    No quiero imaginarme cómo fueron las cosas fuera del casco central de Puerto Cabello o en Morón con nuestros testigos.

    Cómo es posible que nadie denunciara lo de los vehículos de PDVSA, más de quinientos, que salieron de Yagua para llevar votantes?
    (yo coloqué una foto en mi blog después de insistir a amigos que me enviasen algunas, para ellos ya eso es como la lluvia para Londres, algo que pasa)

  16. moctavio Says:

    Whats the basis for that number? Were the audits stopped? At the center where I voted all audits were performed, this is the first that I hear they were not. Why weren’t they? Sounds like rumors to me.

  17. Alexander Says:

    Octavio writes:

    “What is the complaint? That the opposition does not have the results of the audits too. But you have not heard anyone complaining that some audits showed a big discrepancy, have you? In fact, I have not heard any witness say publicly there was even a discrepancy, so that the discussion seems to be very ethereal.”


    The audits were performed only in about 5% of total electoral posts, so it is not difficult to understand why you did not hear anyone complaining that some audits showed a big discrepancy !!. Why the oppositions witness did not audit the 55% as the law requieres ? If you find the answer wrte here..

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