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Latest poll in Venezuela: Chavez 48% Rosales 42%

By Aleksander Boyd

Caracas 15.11.06 | Doug Schoen, director of Penn, Schoen & Berland, just announced results of the latest poll conducted in 260 randomly selected sampling points around Venezuela. After interviewing roughly 1,000 people results show 48% in support of Chavez and 42% in favour of Manuel Rosales. Schoen explained the methodology used, which is completely different from what other pollsters that give Chavez a purported lead of 20% have been using thus far. Randomly selected people were stopped on the streets and given a secret ballot, they were not asked question pertaining their identity, home address or place of work. Upon conclusion interviewees were asked to deposit the secret ballot in a box. This method was designed to provide the greatest possible means of anonimity and confidentiality and minimize the fear factor associated with face to face interviews at homes.

The poll, which has a margin of error between 3% and 3.5%, indicates that the candidacy of Manuel Rosales is gathering momentum. Compared to results of a previous poll by Penn, Schoen & Berland released in September Rosales has nearly halved the gap with the incumbent in a two month period. This is due to two main factors: the first is rampant criminality levels and the second is Rosales' Mi Negra programme. In the first case interviewees expressed great concern about their personal security and the appalling performance of the Chavez regime in this respect. Secondly, in Schoen's opinion, the more people learn about Mi Negra proposal and how it will empower people by distributing a fifth of the oil income directly without intermediaries the more they'll shift towards Rosales' ticket.

Schoen's said "what I can say with certainty is that this poll does not underreport the support base of Chavez nor does it undermine the chances of Rosales. I was contracted by a group of businessmen to provide an accurate, objective and realistic picture of Venezuela's public opinion and that's what I did. This country is evenly divided and although I won't venture into any predictions about the final outcome I can positively say that this is a very close race and based on my 30 years of experience around the world I can conclude that the momentum is with Rosales and undecided voters will brake towards Rosales at a ratio of 2 to 1."

Penn, Schoen & Berland will conduct an exit poll on election day, with the help of a bipartisan multinational group. Schoen also said that Venezuela's democracy can only be strenghten if a great number of exit polls are done on election day so that people are informed.

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