More polling data from Venezuela
17.11.06 | I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm manifesting symptoms of poll withdrawal. After getting into the swing of the cycle--waiting for certain polls to be released, hitting the refresh on Rasmussen--it's hard to let go. So, for anyone else who's feeling a little lost without their crystal ball fix, here are some interesting new polls. The mid-terms might be over in the US, but the nice thing about living in a world where democracy is on the march is that there's always an election going on somewhere...
For instance. The presidential election in Venezuela is just a fortnight away. As I have mentioned before, this contest originally wasn't about whether or not sitting "president" Hugo Chavez would win. The question was by how much, and six months ago Mr. Chavez projected 10 million votes, at which point he proposed abolishing the obviously useless democratic system of Venezuela and declaring himself dictator for life.
Times have changed.
Mr. Chavez' once demoralized and fractured opposition united behind an excellent candidate--Manuel Rosales--in August. Mr. Rosales cut Mr. Chavez' once-insurmountable lead to about a dozen points in September, and at the beginning of November there was more good news: AKSA had Mr. Rosales within 4 points. Was it too good to be true? A perfidious "outlier" poll, like those flimsy hooks on which we have hung so many doomed hopes over the past few weeks? In short order, another poll appeared that seemed to confirm such concerns. A poll reportedly by University Complutense in Madrid indicated a lead of some 20+ points for Mr. Chavez. Oh well, I thought. It's just not our season. But the intrepid Aleksander Boyd, whose journalistic tricks included writing an email and making a phone call, discovered that the poll was not conducted by the university, and may well be wishful thinking on the part of Mr. Chavez' campaign. And today, we have yet another poll, this one by Penn, Schoen & Berland, that shows Mr. Chavez with a 6-point advantage. Alek wants these numbers to be better and of course I concur--I'd like to see Mr. Rosales with a healthy lead, but this demonstration that Mr. Chavez is not invincible is welcome all the same. He's clearly unnerved by the prospect of a close election, and is already taking steps to enforce the desired outcome, by force if necessary. Mr. Rosales is being urged "to assume a democratic stance" and accept Mr. Chavez' victory, which is inevitable because Mr. Chavez' own imaginary polls say so.
Again, not so fast. Two weeks is a long time in politics, and Mr. Rosales is on a roll. By not dismantling the Venezuelan constitution eighteen months ago on the assumption that this election would give him an even bigger mandate to assume a totalitarian stance, Mr. Chavez may well have undercut his own basis of power: the illusion of overwhelming popular support. A close election will force him to change his game--and there's even the possibility of an alternative outcome. How interesting it will be if the voters of Venezuela, once given a viable choice to Mr. Chavez, decide to exercise that option and show the strong man the door. Democracy has been taking a bum rap over the past few months as being too unstable and unpredictable--and not suited to everyone. It is indeed sometimes messy. Even inconvenient. But at other times it can be a truly beautiful thing.
Source Red State
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