What Polls Say about Hugo Chávez

The breach between President Hugo Chávez and the candidate of the world’s extreme Right for the October elections gets wider every day

René Tamayo

CARACAS.— Does President Hugo Chávez have a development project for the country? Some 60.7 percent of the Venezuelans think he does. Does he take care of the poor? Yes, 67.3 percent believe so. Do his proposals include all citizens? Yes, 58.7 percent of the population says so. Does he represent Venezuela in the international arena well? 61.2 percent of the population agrees.

These are the four questions that the poll firm Consultores 30-11, presented in the most recent survey about the tendencies of voters for the presidential elections on October 7.

His rightwing contender Henrique Capriles Radonski doesn’t poll nearly as good. In most of the questions asked above – and in many others- the experiment of world’s Right wing barely obtains more than 20 percent.

And there is more: 67.3 percent of the Venezuelans believe that Hugo Chavez is a sincere and honest man. That he speaks his mind. In other words, he is an upright, impeccable man who acts and speaks as he is. He doesn’t beat around the bushes or present shallow and unrealistic things.

Approximately 25 percent of the Venezuelans think the same of Capriles Radonski. And that makes sense: that is, more or less, the percentage of people to be considered as the core of diehard opposition. The core that will never change. The core that will always oppose the Bolivarian Project.

As to the voting intentions, if the elections would have taken place on Sunday May 13, 56.8 percent of the people over 18 years of age with the right to vote would have voted for Chavez. Only 27.1 percent would have checked Capriles’ name in the ballots.

On top of that, 66.1 percent of the Venezuelans positively evaluate the work of the President. According to experts, this indicator reveals more than the “voting intention” because although this indicator reveals a certain political tendency, the “government evaluation” reflecting the suitability for the social and life project of the voter prevails; in other words, pragmatism over liking. And it is well known that man does not live on bread alone; but without bread- or at least cassava- there is no possibility to live.

Hinterlaces, another poll firm, announced last weekend that their most recent solid data- from April 18- showed a voting intention of 53 percent for the Head of State. However, later polls – which have not yet been completely processed- showed that the gap was increasing at a pace of two to three percent.

Similar results are shown by GIS XXI (21st century Group for social investigation), whose most recent study also gives an advantage of the 36 percent to Chavez (57 percent for the Bolivarian leader over 21 percent for the extreme Right candidate).

Differences aside, these and other similar studies agree that President Chavez has an overwhelming advantage. And since the elections are less than five months away, the tendency is irreversible unless an unpredictable event of inestimable consequences happens.

These are just three examples. The list is long. There are more poll firms. Surveying is not a simple academic exercise. It is a business. And generally, the poll firms are very serious enterprises.

These companies are directed by PhDs, university professors and high-level experts, some of them trained in the most prestigious, demanding and profitable specialized firms in the world. And regardless of the political preferences of their owners, boards, techniques and staff, seriousness is their best presentation card. Their profits are at stake. And we know that sometimes the pocket speaks louder than the heart.

Personally, I must confess that in my exchanges with fellow journalists in national and international media here, we all expected to see a furious “war of the polls” during the election process in Venezuela but this was not the case.

All the opposition has been able to say is that the poll firms are mercenaries. I don’t think so.

The real truth is that all the polls give great advantage to the revolutionary leader. And, that many polls can’t be wrong.

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