Opinion Surveys End with Mixed Results for Venezuelan Referendum

On Sunday, the
last day in which the latest opinion surveys were allowed to be publicized in Venezuela, results provide a very mixed view of
the possible outcome of Venezuela's
national referendum on the constitutional reform next Sunday.

By Chris Carlson - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Mérida,

November 28, 2007

(venezuelanalysis.com) - On Sunday, the
last day in which the latest opinion surveys were allowed to be publicized in Venezuela, results provide a very mixed view of
the possible outcome of Venezuela's
national referendum on the constitutional reform next Sunday. Surveys from
opposition oriented polling companies show the majority of Venezuelans voting
against the reform, while polls close to the government show a clear victory
for the constitutional reform.

According to results released last week by the Venezuelan
polling firm Datanálisis, 44.6 percent of Venezuelans will vote against the
constitutional reform, while only 30.8 percent will vote in support of it. But
the agency also reported high levels of abstention (nearly 60 percent), making
the results harder to predict. Although clearly identified with the opposition,
Datanálisis has been a relatively reliable polling agency in the past,
predicting a 27-point victory for Chavez in the 2006 presidential elections.

Another opposition-affiliated survey released by the
Venezuelan polling agency Mercanálisis also showed a loss for the reform.
According to this earlier survey, 58 percent of voters would vote against the
reform, while 37 percent would vote in favor. Abstention was placed at 27
percent.

Likewise, the Caracas
polling firm Hinterlaces showed that 45 percent of the electorate is against
the reform, while only 31 percent supports it. However, the results from
Hinterlaces show that if you take only those voters who assured that they would
vote next Sunday, those who support the reform come out on top, 45 to 43, showing
the importance of abstention in Sunday's referendum. 

A survey by the polling firm Keller & Asociados also
showed that the reform would be voted down, 45 percent to 31 percent, with 35
percent abstention.  Keller, however, was
one of the least reliable polls before last year's presidential election, when
it predicted a narrow victory for President Chavez.

Venezuelan government officials, however, have rejected these
opposition affiliated survey results that show the reform will lose next
Sunday. They claim that the surveys have manipulated numbers and are part of a
media war against the constitutional reform. 

Minister of Communications William Lara made a statement
last weekend against what he called "the media war of lies" and a
"war of surveys that want to deceive us by saying that these quick polls
show 'No' as a winner, and the truth is that the surveys give a wide advantage
to 'Yes'."

Vice-president Jorge Rodriguez also accused opposition
sectors of carrying out a campaign of lies and manipulations to confuse the
Venezuelan population about the upcoming referendum. Rodriguez said that the
same strategy was used in previous electoral contests to create uncertainty
about the electoral results in order to later make the claim that the official
results were fraudulent. 

Telecommunications Minister Jesse Chacón pointed out that
many of the polls only surveyed a total of 600 people, when they should have a
minimum of 1,500 respondents, and that they have a margin of error of 10
percent, and are therefore not statistically reliable. Chacón pointed to other
surveys that give a large victory to the reform, and estimated that support for
the reform would surpass 60 percent in Sunday's vote.

According to a survey released by the Instituto Venezolano
de Análisis de Datos (IVAD), 31.9 percent will vote in favor of the reform, and
21.1 percent will vote against it with an abstention of 47 percent. 

Other survey companies such as Consultores 30.11 and Alemica
Estadísticos Consultores also show the reform winning with nearly 60 percent of
the total votes.

"The important thing is to get out and vote, to confirm
our tendency in the machines," said Chacon, assuring a victory for the
reform. "The bigger the results are, the more tranquility we will give to
the Venezuelan people."

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