We’re in the realm of probabilities here, and all I meant to point out is that underlying economic conditions probably have a much stronger impact on October’s election than you – the average Venezuelan blog reader – would expect. That’s because the topic is seldom brought up in our public sphere.
Looking back at some of the Political Science literature on the whole question of Economic Voting, I realized it all gets rather murky pretty quickly. Researchers find good correlations in some contexts but not others, and in some elections but not others. Certainly, no one sane can predict an election on economic grounds alone. Context is key.
One interesting side-argument in this whole discussion is the idea of Grievance Asymmetry: the possibility explored by some theorists that voters are quick to punish incumbents when the economy is going badly, but slow to reward them when it’s going well. This is an offshoot to a long-established line of research on loss aversion – people are far more upset to lose $100 than they are happy to gain $100.
Grievance asymmetry is just a hypothesis at this point, but one loaded with good common sense. It suggests my original post was way overstated – what’s extraordinary is not when an incumbent loses during good times; it’s when an incumbent wins during very bad times.
Intuition still suggests that whatever positive impact strong economic performance may have must be magnified in a context like Venezuela’s, simply due to the huge weight of the State in the economy and its capacity to funnel direct material advantage on a life-changing scale to constituents.
Cuz I’m pretty sure the Danish voters studied in this investigation of Grievance Asymmetry, for instance, were not being offered near-free washer-dryer sets as part of “Veludstyret Hjem” – GoogleTranslateDanish for Mi Casa Bien Equipada…
Whether it’s a lot or a little, I think we’re safe saying that fast economic growth and triple digit oil prices have some impact on the state of the race. But that’s already more impact than it gets credit for in, say, the Opinion Pages of El Universal, where it’s simply never mentioned!
That’s all I was trying to get at.
Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported.
Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.Donate