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Polls Show Maduro Leading Capriles for Venezuelan Presidential Elections

Merida, March 19th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Private poll company Datanalisis has found that interim president Nicolas Maduro has a 14% lead over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, with 16% of respondents still undecided, or intending to vote for other candidates.

Yesterday Barclays/Datanalisis released a report in which 65% of respondents believe that pro-Chavez candidate Nicolas Maduro will win the 14 April presidential elections.

Barclays is a British multinational financial services company, and Datanalisis is a private Venezuelan company, whose poll results generally favour the opposition, but also tend to be closer to final election outcomes than some other private polling companies.

According to their poll, 49.2% of respondents intend to vote for Maduro, while 34.8% said they will vote for opposition contender Henrique Capriles, giving Maduro a prospective lead of 14.4%. Datanalisis conducted the poll from 11 March to 13 March; the days following the candidates’ registrations to run in the elections.

Only 15% of respondents believed Capriles would win the upcoming elections. Barclays identified this as a “risk” for the opposition, as a “lack of enthusiasm could lead to the abstention of voters”.

“In that sense, Capriles’s reaction has been an aggressive campaign to try to revitalize opposition voters. He is presenting the election in terms of a battle against adverse and unfair conditions, in which a significant portion of the country (roughly half of it) deserves to be heard,” the financial company’s report concluded.

The results also show that the passing of President Hugo Chavez only had a minor impact on voting intentions. Results from the same company, from a poll conducted on 20 February, show the voting intention for Maduro at 46.4%, just 2.8% less than the more recent poll. The voting intention for Capriles was 34.3%, 0.5% less than the recent poll.

The results suggest a high percentage of undecided votes, abstentions or intentions to vote for other candidates, at 16%.

Barclays argued, “Considering the short period for campaigning, the sympathy effect just after the death of Chavez, restrictions on the press, and the demobilisation of the opposition following two defeats last year, Maduro is still a favourite for the 14 of April presidential elections”.

It is not clear what “restrictions on the press” Barclays refers to. The National Electoral Council has increased the amount of electoral advertising time allowed by television and radio, given the short campaigning time. Television advertisements can last a maximum of four minutes, and radio advertisements five minutes. Official campaigning is allowed from 2 to 11 April.

“Maduro is still the favourite... however his popularity is volatile and relies on the emotional support that Chavez transferred to him,” Barclays stated in its report.

The financial transnational also concluded that the market is assuming Maduro’s victory, and that Venezuela still offers an “interesting asymmetric trade opportunity in the case of a black swan event”. A black swan event is an unexpected event with high impact, and the Barclay’s report says it sees an opposition win in this light.

Andres Izarra, a member of the team heading up the campaign ‘Hugo Chavez’ for Nicolas Maduro, criticised national and international “right wing media” for “ignoring” the poll results. He noted that at the time of speaking, yesterday, of Venezuelan media only newspaper Ultimas Noticias had reported the results.

As of today, newspaper El Universal and news website Noticias24 have also published the results, but TV channel Globovision and conservative paper El Nacional haven’t.

Today, another private, pro-opposition poll company, Hinterlaces also released its poll results. Based on a survey of 1,100 homes around the country, conducted on 16 March, 53% of respondents would vote for Maduro and 35% for Capriles, for a difference of 18 percentage points.

The poll also showed that 61% of Venezuelans think that Maduro will win the elections.

In October last year, Hugo Chavez won the presidential elections with 55.4% of the vote, to 45% by Capriles, with 81% participation. The September poll by Datanalisis gave Chavez a 13% lead.

Published on Mar 19th 2013 at 3.05pm