Venezuela’s leading polling firm Datanálisis released its July Omnibus today and the news for HCR is not good. It has Chávez (HCF) at 46.1% and Capriles (HCR) at 30.8%. Each candidate has increased its share of the electorate by about 3% over a month’s time. This means that over the past three months the gap in support for the two candidates has been relatively stable at around 16% (May 17%, June 16%, July 15%).
However, this poll is actually much worse for HCR because while it has the same gap, it has fewer undecided voters. They have declined from 31.4% in May to 26.7% in June to 23.1% in July. Analysis of formerly undecided but now decided voters shows that, so far, they are breaking in favor of HCR 55.4% to 44.6%, which is good, but not good enough. Even if they all fell that way, the gap would be reduced to only 12.8%. However, Datanálisis looks at the leanings of the remaining undecided voters and shows that in all likelihood, they would break almost 2 to 1 in HCF’s favor. Taking these voters into account, HCF is up by 16.3 points.
All of this will surely be a big disappointment for the Capriles campaign. There has been a sense that HCR has scored points in the past couple of weeks—especially with his call for an accord regarding the basic ground rules of the campaign, which the CNE subsequently followed with a reduced version of the accord that HCF says he will sign.
But it is important to remember that this “July” Omnibus is actually based on June fieldwork (June 14-23) and so is about 3 weeks old. Datanálisis is, in my view, the best polling outfit in Venezuela, but the size of its operation does not come close to, for example, Gallup in the US with its daily tracking polls published the next day. Thus these data should not be taken to assume that HCR has not had a couple of good weeks.
Here again, the biggest problem for HCR is simply the popularity of Chávez, which is still above 60%. This, as in previous polls, is highly correlated with monetary liquidity, which in turn is highly correlated with personal outlook. Additionally, perceptions of HCF’s health have improved. 65.25% think he is cured or is getting better while 53.3% think his cancer will not affect his ability to govern.
But there is one more bad number for HCR: Only 35.3% polled say they have “confianza” (trust) in HCR, while 53.9% say they do not. In Venezuela “confianza” has a somewhat different meaning than trust does in the Anglophone world. “Trust” in the latter means that a person has integrity and will do what he says he will do. “Confianza” in the Caribbean world means something closer to “will do right by me.” This is a little less damning than it would be in the Anglophone world in which someone who is not trustworthy is seen to have a serious character flaw. Not being “de confianza” can be addressed through demonstrations of good will.
Datanálisis included another interesting question, asking respondents how they currently felt emotionally. The responses break down remarkably by political tendency. Among government supporters 68.8% describe their emotional state as positive and 25% negative. Among opposition supporters only 9.3% describe their emotional state as positive, while 88.7% describe them as negative.