From my inbox…

You know, when I first saw the CNE results, I assumed fraud. The weird hour, the huge spread, and the strange look on Carter’s face when he and Gaviria came out of the CNE offices at 1 am….

But now I think I believe these results are accurate… or nearly accurate. I won’t go into the debate over evidence (or lack of evidence) of fraud. But on a more general note, when you say in your “Realities” entry that the country is back to a “60-40” split, I don’t know if I agree. Let’s assume Chavez won, fair and square. I don’t think that means 60% support him. I think it’s a mis-reading of that vote. I think maybe 40 points of the 60 are loyal chavistas… but the other 20 is a bunch of people who would like to see someone else in charge, but don’t see who it could be. These middle 20 (and I don’t call them ni-ni, because that misses the point) simply did the math: If Chavez were kicked out, they would have to endure a month of Pres. Rangel and a big, chaotic presidential campaign, and when all was said and done, Chavez would be back in Miraflores by the end of September. I think that middle 20 percent regarded that possibility, sighed a heavy sigh, and said What the hell, let’s leave bad enough alone.

When the opposition looks at the CNE results, it interprets them as 60% pro-Chavez, and, seen that way, of course the results look fraudulent. There’s no way 60% of Venezuelans are chavistas. But that’s not what the 60% really denotes… I think.