Mind the Gap

David Smilde

Over the past 48 hours I had the opportunity to see the latest polling of Venezuela’s most reliable firms. Of course, Venezuelan electoral law says we can’t talk about numbers at this stage of the game. What I can say is that indeed there has been an interesting narrowing in the gap between Maduro and Capriles. However, the numbers now look similar to where they were before the October elections and it seems likely that Maduro will win with a similar margin of victory, perhaps somewhat smaller.

That said, the main lesson I took away from seeing various pollsters results is that the unique elements of this election–coming on the heels of a popular president’s death, with a successor that people do not know well, who a couple of weeks before Chávez’s death took the most unpopular of measures in Venezuela (devaluation)–means that the numbers are unusually volatile.

All of this is not just a moot point since the gap by which Maduro wins will be the main focus of the results. If he can repeat Chávez’s margin or improve upon it he will be in a strong position. If he gets anything less than an eight point margin it will raise doubts within his coalition that he is the man to carry the revolution forward. It would also energize to organize for the municipal elections this year, legislative elections in 2015, and an eventual push for a recall referendum