New Polls Show Venezuela's Chavez Winning Recall Referendum

Three polling companies, including Washington DC based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Inc., show President Chavez with majority support for the upcoming recall referendum

By Martin Sanchez - Venezuelanalysis.com
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Caracas, Jul 2 (Venezuelanalysis.com).- According to three newly released surveys, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will survive the upcoming recall referendum on his mandate, confirming earlier predictions by some Wall Street firms and other polls.

A June 23 poll conducted by Washington DC based polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc., showed that 49% of Venezuela's registered voters would support President Chavez in the recall referendum vs. 44% who would vote to recall him.

A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll shows an upward trend in favor of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez for the upcoming recall referendum
Washington DC-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research polls show an upward trend in favor of Chavez for the upcoming recall referendum.
Source: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research

Another Greenberg poll taken last March, gave Chavez only 43% support vs. 51% who opposed him, which shows an upward trend in favor of the 49-year old leftist leader.

The poll also determined that 54% of voters approve of Chavez's handling of the presidency, while 41% disapprove it. 42% said that the country is going in the right direction while 40% said the opposite. Only 47% approved of the President's job back in March, while 49% disapproved.

1.200 people were surveyed, with a margin of error of 3%.

According to a Reuters wire, the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner survey was held at the request of private television network Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), which openly opposes the government. RCTV has not made public the results of the poll. Greenberg acknowledges conducting the polls at the request of opposition groups by stating on its web site that they have "helped the opposition movement build domestic and international support for the referendum through a series of strategic surveys and focus groups".

The Greenberg survey found that the majority of voters support the government's social programs in favor of the poor. 58% said that Chavez's social programs or "missions" were "excellent" or "good", while 38% said they were "regular" of "bad". 68% said the social programs should be expanded or maintained.

62% said that Chavez is helping the poor, while 36% said he is not. Greenberg's March poll showed only 53% saying that Chavez is helping the poor, while 44% said he was not.

Most Venezuelans think Hugo Chavez is helping the poor, according to a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll
Most Venezuelans think Hugo Chavez is helping the poor, according to a June, 2004 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll.
Source: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research

63% said they though the opposition would cheat during the recall, while 54% thought the government would cheat.

"It is clear that he is gaining ground," Michael Penfold, a political analyst the Venezuelan IESA school of business told Reuters.

INDAGA and DATOS also show Chavez winning

A mid-June poll by Venezuelan polling company INDAGA shows that 55% of Venezuelans would vote against recalling President Chavez in the upcoming referendum vs. 42 who would recall him. A late January INDAGA poll found that 51% supported Chavez while 47% opposed him.

"We are talking about an electoral phenomenon that defies all scientific predictions and reaches its fourth year in government without suffering any erosion in its political project," said a statement released at the end of June by INDAGA.

INDAGA polls show a sustained upward trend in Chavez's approval ratings after the coup d'etat of 2002
INDAGA polls show a sustained upward trend in Chavez's approval ratings after the coup d'etat of 2002.
Source: INDAGA

Another June poll by Venezuelan firm DATOS, gave Chavez 51% of support for the recall referendum, against 39% who would vote against him, according to the state press agency Venpres which quoted a source linked to the opposition. DATOS is believed to be friendly towards the opposition. The results of the poll, which was requested by the opposition, were not released to the public.

Conflicting report by Datanalisis

The 10% Chavez lead revealed by DATOS prompted an emergency meeting of opposition leaders, held June 24th at the Globovision TV news network headquarters, according to Venpres. Prominent opposition leaders joined representatives of all mainstream TV stations; Globovisión, RCTV, Televen, Venevision, and CMT, to discuss the contradictions between the DATOS results and those of Datanalisis, an openly anti-Chavez polling firm which had reported more favorable numbers for the opposition.

A Datanalisis survey conducted May 10 and May 19 found that 57.4% would vote against Chavez vs. 42.6% who support him. The same poll also found that between 50% y 55% support Chavez's social programs to help the poor, while only between 6.4% and 15% of those surveyed benefited from such programs.

The Datanalisis numbers were highly publicized by the Venezuelan mainstream media, most of which openly opposes the government.

Analysts speculate that Chavez's acceptance of the National Electoral Council's decision to hold the recall referendum after determining that his opponents had collected the constitutionally-required number of valid signatures, may have boosted his image. The Datanalisis poll was taken in May, before authorities approved holding the referendum, while the DATOS poll was held in June, after Chavez's acceptance. Chavez has criticized opposition leaders for not publicly declaring that they would respect electoral results that are not favorable to them.

All polls confirm an upward trend favorable to Chavez, who has been accused by opponents of using extra revenue from higher oil prices to "buy votes" through the implementation of several social programs for the poor. Some opponents of Chavez also have accused him of paying demonstrators to attend political rallies in his support.

Opposition leaders have recently stopped their criticisms of Chavez's social programs and now claim that they will be maintained in an eventual post-Chavez administration.

Though mission

Last January, global credit ratings and research company Fitch Ratings said in their report on Venezuela that the most likely political outcome in Venezuela was that President Chavez will remain in office at least until the end of his term in 2006. Wall Street firm Bear Stearns also has predicted that the Venezuelan leader is likely to finish his term. "Not only is President Chavez likely to finish his term in office, but recent polls suggest he has excellent chances to win re-election in the next presidential election, scheduled for 2006," said a Bear Stearns report earlier this year.

The recall referendum, which is scheduled for Aug 15, requires that Chavez opponents get more than the 3.8 million votes Chavez received in the 2000 election. The Electoral Council determined that Chavez opponents collected 2.4 million valid signatures to demand the recall, which means that the opposition would need at least 1.4 million additional votes in order to recall the President. The signatures were collected last December when polls when less favorable to Chavez than they are today. Additionally, the number of votes obtained by the opposition during the referendum must surpass those cast by Chavez supporters.

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