I’d like to make one quick clarification regarding AP’s story today. The reason I can’t blame Capriles if he decides not to run is not because the “dice are loaded” against him but because he wouldn’t win a short election even if it is completely fair and square. February polling by Hinterlaces and Datanalisis show Maduro ten to fifteen points up on Capriles and those numbers do not depend on anything the CNE does or doesn’t do.

Rather, my point was that it would make political sense for Capriles to sit it out because another loss would probably put an end to his viability in the future. I also think it would be difficult for him to dramatically change campaign strategies (to be more confrontational and rhetorical) without looking unprincipled.

Of course Maduro’s lead comes from being named successor by a highly popular president who has benefited from record oil prices and a hyper-trophic increase of state spending. And it is likely that the often grotesque incumbent’s advantage we have seen in the past will be true this time around. But that is not why Capriles is likely to lose. He is likely to lose because Chavismo is much more popular than the opposition.

The conditions of these elections will be very similar to the 2012 and studies show that Capriles got his message out. The difference would be that these elections would have a shorter time frame, making it all the more difficult for Capriles. But it is good to keep in mind what Luis Vicente Leon wrote today. In politics nothing is certain and unexpected twist and turns are par for the course.