A call to pace ourselves

Try and try and try again.

I see a lot of enthusiasm. I see our smartest readers being quoted as saying that the trend clearly shows Capriles is going to win. I see people who did not vote for Capriles assuring me that he is going to win. I see reasonable people saying that William Ojeda’s little stunt today – abandoning ship – is a sure sign Capriles is leading.

I dunno.

Let’s call a spade a spade: the most optimistic scenario is that we’re tied or leading slightly and, man, that’s not too reassuring to me.

We are on a kinfe’s edge, and we may well lose. We could even lose big.

Let’s entertain that thought for a minute, without fear.

Suppose Chávez wins fair and square on October 7th. Chances are there will be another election some time in the near future, one without Chávez.

Does anyone here believe Chávez is not gravely ill? Are we convinced Chávez will be around in six years’ time?

I’m pretty convinced he won’t be. And if he passes away before his inauguration or before the end of his third year in office – God bless him – we have to hold new elections.

So even in the worst possible scenario, this is not our only shot at the well in the near future. In that case, what do we do? Who do we run? On what platform?

Hopefully it won’t come to that. But we don’t do anyone any favors by not planning ahead and simply refusing to consider this possibility.

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    • Indeed. da Silva has Protuguesa, yes, Protuguesa going to Chavez.

      Where the hell is Protuguesa? Sounds like one of those “empresas de maletin” you always find involved in scandals.

          • Come on, Quico. You are just jealous that you did not come up with the brilliant concept of extrapolating straight lines with no error margin.

          • Well … I think you are both being a bit overzealous in your criticism. Projecting based on past performance is not necessarily idiotic, but has to be done carefully. Tanto como “the single stupidest thing I’ve heard about Venezuelan politics in years” no…

          • Between 1988 and 1993, Convergencia increased its vote by 30.5%of the vote. By this guy’s reckoning, they should have won in 1998 with 61% of the vote!

            I mean por dios juan da pena…

          • In that case, then YVPolis’ analysis is also worth squat. After all, isn’t he inferring current pollsters’; reliability based on past performance too?

            No da pena, Quico. You can disagree with the premise and the methodology, but it’s not *that* bad.

          • You are an economist, I am not. That said, yes, you can do analyses extrapolating trends (but at least add error bars, FFS), I have been paid to do that, but often you design scenarios and run Montecarlos and whatnot to see a bunch of possible events affecting the outcome of your baseline. The kind of stuff we are seeing here is the most basic part of a serious analysis, nothing definite and in conditions as unstable as ours, fuck, it needs to be taken with the whole salinas de Araya

          • Oh come on, so nothing short of a Monte Carlo analysis can be deemed serious by you guys? Why are you reading this blog then? Coño, no somos suizos…

          • If you are going to be dead serious about predicting election results with so much confidence, yes, I am going to be that picky.

            I read this because you have interesting insights, you know you can be wrong and you correct your mistakes.

        • Chama, sorry but no.

          If you are going to publish a prediction about a Presidential race, and you have an Ing. in front of your name, then proofreading had better be right up there amongst your list of skills.

          How serious can you expect to be taken if you can’t check your own slide?

          I may spelling mistakes all the time, I get definitions wrong, have no clue if to save my life I had to define “pluscuamperfecto” or whether or not dangling participles can be lopped off safely without major surgery.

          If I made a prediction in a very public way on my own website I would make sure I got the names of states right, at the very least. Plus, with spellcheck functions in just about every major software, I mean, coño, que mas quereis?

    • Regardless of the precision, or not, of Da Silva’s number estimates, a very iffy proposition at best, his basic premise that Capriles will take comfortably virtually all of the high-population states will probably be proved correct. It will take very large Chavez margins in those lower-population mostly-rural supposedly Chavista states to overcome this Capriles advantage.

  1. Dear Sir, I am stumbling over the phrase. “…wins fair and square”; I have checked my updated, latest-version political dictionary as issued by the proper ministry of peoples’ power and so forth and can say definitively that such concepts as conveyed in that phrase are quite, quite absent from the tome, a detail that would emasculate the rest of the argumernt. Even if running against a bright-spark german shepherd, regime candidates electoral manual doesn’t hint at anything of that kind.

  2. I’m thinking in terms of Nicaragua’s Chamorro vs. Ortega.

    I think we are still talking about how to interpret undecideds/no answer, and that the trend for Capriles at this time is still more important than the numbers, but we are geting to the point where the trend should level out.

    Three key items here in play (in no particular order of importance):

    1) Abstention by Chavistas
    2) Opposition getting the “take two to the polls” to work
    3) Oppo Witnesses and the concomittant “defend the vote” back up logistics at a minimum of 95% of polling places.

    If at least #1 or #2 turn out to be true, Capriles should be elected the next President provided #3 is a reality. Whether he actually gets to sit in the chair is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

    If the cards fall the other way, and we have 6 more years of Chavez then our country is going to be well and truly screwed for the next 30 years. As it is now, we’re screwed for 15-20.

    • Totally agree with you. However, I worry that many of the ni-nis and undecided will
      insanely vote for Chavez.I fear if it is “close” Capriles does not have a chance to
      declare victory and this would most certainly embolden the chavistas..

  3. Dear Mr. Nagel, Sir, I am also of the persuasion that cell physiology will impose its own conclusion (“conlcusion” = “end of”; “culmination”) long before 6 years is up; indeed, possibly before that 6-year spell even starts, all depending how rapidly the creeping lurgi creeps. Notwithstanding the foregoing though furthermore thereto, among looming unknowns for any Venezuelan at all at all are the local afflictions to which we’re all exposed, especially those in dodgy health to begin with, being the popular Yeyo, Quebranto, Cuerpo Pesao and the widely occurring Patatús. The not unlikely appearence of any one, — especially the last — would change matters lickety split. As it were.

    • You seem to have forgotten about the pandemic Pasmo and the dreaded Calentura Neddie… on the subject of the thread, without any hard figures to go with, It seems to me that even if Capriles is the best possible oppo candidate, he is still facing an uphill battle to win the hearts of Chavistas and the guabinero-Ninis basically because he is too caraqueño and too sifrino-looking to appeal to everyone. As I said before on this forum, our Tierra de Gracia has NEVER elected a caraqueño to La Silla since the Cuarta República.

      About the health condition of the incumbent, besides being a moot point electorally speaking – Guy’s still the candidate, still the glue keeping his movement unified- remember that historically, in Venezuela, no president has died while in office, power seems to be extremely good for your health. Besides, putting any kind of hope on something external is a mistake those who studied any kind of Sociology in school -with Prof. Maryclen Stelling, in my case- call “locus de control externo”, meaning leaving stuff outside your area of influence to control your life.

  4. agree on the call to pace ourselves. As a voter, my ‘consigna’ is cautious optimism. But, I won’t diss the fever. It may have been one of the elements that has propelled the campaign of Capriles to the extraordinary VISIBLE levels reached in a short period of time.

  5. OK, I’ll bite: I don’t expect Capriles to win. I’m sorry, he is a great candidate, his campaign is run impeccably, and I’m sure that he’s the most qualified person for the job, but I for one believe that the average Venezuelan votes with his stomach and the massive public spending is impossible to beat. Also, I believe that expecting chabe to die in the near future is only going to increase the frustration when he shows up on a cadena in a few years saying “qué pasó, Nicolás? ellos creían que yo estaba muerto? MUERTOS ESTÁN ELLOS, MAJUNCHES QUE SON!”… yerba mala no muere.

  6. My two cents to this debate:
    Before I left Venezuela 6+ years ago, I was involved with party politics and eventually left to join a reputable NGO on the electoral front. I am sad to see how an incredibly well run campaing, a strong and valuable campaign team /potential future leaders of a new goverment and seeds for a healthier State, are now jeopardized due to the fact elections remain suspect of being maipulable and unfair.
    We have lost the opportunity to clean up the house and gain confidence on the electoral administrator. Whatever diference in votes are irrelevant if the loser, whoever it may be, is not satisfied of the fairness of the result.
    if the Capriles camp is not capable of manning all the poll stations ,has not planned for a difficult 8:00PM-3:00AM window on 10/7, and more importanly for a show of force on October 8 and beyond (Ukraine style), then they do not deserve to be on command.
    If the Capriles campaing does not manage to win by land slide, then all bets are off and the results will further divide venezuela.
    Ramon Pinango of former IESA fame said on his twitter account a week or so ago, after the Amuay accident, a very profound and grave insight, paraphrasing he said:
    Just because Chavez said there was no smell of gas, half the populations beleives it to be so.
    Just because Chavez said there was no smell of Gas, half the population beleives there was.

    These untrustworthy elections may as well be a lighted match thrown into this explosive social mix.
    Are we ready for what is to come?

  7. Yes, we should pace ourselves.

    Nonetheless there is a lot to be hopeful about. These are my reasons:

    On the polls:

    1.-Pollsters (respectable ones) are given a very consistent value on Chavez popularity. The variance around his numbers is low.

    2.- The variance around Capriles is high, very high. The variance around Capriles + NS/NC is very low.

    4.- Regardless of the pollster, the gap between Chavez and Capriles is closing.

    5.- Datanalisis way of conducting polls and interviews is doubtful in the political context. Last results showed that the vote intention towards both candidates decreased (wtf?).

    5.- Pollsters in the past have overestimated participation. Chavistas are more likely to abstain than Oppo.

    On the context:

    1.- Chavez campaign seems to lack of the same excitement of the past.

    2.- A lot of stuff has happened recently that has increased the frustration on Chavez’s ability to govern.

    3.- According to qualitative studies the conciliation speech from Capriles is perceived as very positive. The violent speech from Chavez is perceived as negative. The study was done in both Chavistas and Oppo focus groups in classes DE, the perception didn’t varied

    4.- In the sames focus groups Capriles performance as a governors and mayor is perceived as positive.

    5.- Same focus groups commented that this is the first time they have felt Chavez can be defeated.

    6.- There was a nugget from one of the individuals on the focus groups (the chavista one). Paraphrasing: “No queremos a un presidente que se quede en el poder tanto. Se vn amanhando y se vuelven arrogantes. Seria bueno que el flaquito se pasase para este lado y asi si votariamos por el”.

    5.-Chavez is clearly sick.

    On the Comando Venezuela

    1.- The witness task has been developed almost to perfection. Over 120,000 volunteers have ben recruited and are being equip with the proper tools and support to do their work. This including in high risk places such as prisons (18 of them), consulates, and areas where plan republica is too scare to access. Of those 120,000 there are over 90,000 that have been audited, trained, confirmed, etc.

    2.- There has been an extraordinary work done towards identifying at risk polling stations and a whole set of rules a priorities has been set in place to make sure that those are manned.

    3.- Capriles has been extremely disciplined with his campaign with a few minor slips (like the jala bola or bate quebrao incidents).

    Everything can happen. Really. The variance in the pollsters tells you that. Not only that Chavez could win, but also that Capriles could win by a landslide. At the end it will be the citizens that will do the last part. Laureano said it today better:

    “Falta un mes, falta un mes para que falten muchos meses de un camino que el país siempre ha querido recorrer, sin caudillos inspirados, sin restauradores, ni rehabilitadores de nada, sin hombres fuertes. Este camino tiene que ser cívico y ciudadano o no será. Tiene que venir del alma o llegaremos a lo mismo de siempre. Tenemos que liberar las cadenas del espíritu para zafarnos de las cotidianas. Lo dijo con lucidez Andrés Eloy Blanco cuando se lanzaron al mar los grillos de la dictadura de Gómez en Puerto Cabello: “hemos echado al mar los grillos de los pies. Ahora vayamos a la escuela a quitarle a nuestro pueblo los grillos de la cabeza, porque la ignorancia es el camino de la tiranía”.

    Falta un mes para ese momento que tan bien recoge Augusto Mijares en “los Adolescentes” cuando “…llega el día en que hasta el crédulo pueblo que canta cuando sufre y pone su esperanza en los billetes de lotería, se siente dolorido y avergonzado. El país no se conforma y cada vez con más frecuencia se oyen las palabras que han llegado a ser sediciosas: patria, decoro, libertad, honradez… Y por último la pregunta que llega como un cauterio sobre una llaga, la pregunta angustiosa, apremiante, que llega a obsesionar a todos: ¿cómo salir de todo esto, cómo lo haremos, quien lo hará?”

    Respuesta: lo haremos todos, dentro de un mes votando masivamente, sin miedo, con coraje cívico en nombre de tantos sueños y esperanzas largamente pospuestas.”

    I am a realist. I think we could win. I think democracy can prevail as it did in Chile and in Nicaragua and many other places.

      • BTW, I share the view of JC. As Eleazar Lopez Contreras said “calma y cordura”, but this time another word should be included: “Cautela”.

      • Excellent comment! I would add
        1)The alleged document forbiding all members of the military to watch Cariles ad was a major faux pas. That should have been posted by someone other than Capriles
        2)I agree with everything that you said. I don’t mean to sound Luis Vicente Leon-ish but at the end of the day people vote for the candidate “que les cae simpatico”(I.e., the one they would have a beer with). Add all the boondoggles and the outspending and the smear campaign and voila! Chavez wins the election 53 vs 47% (btw, yes, this is a prediction)

  8. Thank you Juan… I wonder myself what is the plan B…but they are so many variables that Capriles cannot control with the health issue of the hopefully “Presaliente”. For me there is two scenarios
    1. Chavez has a big “Patatus” before Oct 7, so big that he cannot deny it. IN this case I really think that Capriles will win.
    2. Chavez continue “parapeteo” until the elections…and in this case all depend of who win and Chavez health issues, so here the scenarios can be many! In addition if Chavez wins,the short term scenario is a repeat of other elections. I know that at least haft of Venezuelans will feel very down for a loong time and people will be so angry that may not even vote in the Dec. elections.Chavismo will take advantage of the situation as long as they can, with Chavez sicker o parapeteado. The long term scenario who knows????

  9. What is the point of being cautious if I will be completely crushed if Chavez wins anyways, no matter how pessimistic or mentally prepared I could be?

    • Absolutely true…. A defeat now will absolutely crush oppo psicologically…. I dont see a recovery any time soon… We really need to make the extra effort “for the win” a reality… And just hope to pull a Chamorro….. It definitively can be done, but I guess no one knows to which extent, or if they do, pleople are not aware… It would be sweet to have some inside info to give us a little more hope

      • Here I have to say I disagree. If we lose I’d suck, I get it. Losing to chavez by, say, 53 vs47, compared to the 63-37 from 2006 is encouraging for the oposition. Plus, right after that we have regional elections in which we are likely to gain more ground agains innefficient sycohantic chavistas.

        • I am with you, Metropolitano… I hate everytime I talk to my Mom back in the land and she has this wide-eyed stance that Capriles WILL win and does not see the alternative as possible. That is faith, not reason. Beyond Capriles, whose work is to look 120 pct convinced he will win, the rest of the opposition should be working under the assumption that they will likely lose and not be fazed when it actually happens, but be ready to keep working after Oct 7. Roma no se hizo en un día people.

          • There are many reasons to be perceived as a winner Tom. Practical ones. You are more likely to get funding. Something that was extremely difficult at the beginning of the campaign and it is still is.

            To the same extent, to get volunteers, people to work for you. People don’t want to work for a lost cause which is the exact picture that the government has been trying to paint.

            A more importantly, people like to vote for the winner.

            I don’t believe in blind faith, but given the quality of the people working towards the campaign, the excitement, the feedback received I believe we have a shot, and a good one.

            I find it hard to explain to people overseas the fact that Chavez presence in the streets seems to be diminished. He attempts to capture middle class votes seem desperate.

          • I have to add that is easy for people abroad to say: “Losing to chavez by, say, 53 vs47, compared to the 63-37 from 2006 is encouraging for the oposition”, i dont know if you are actually in Vzla or not, but in any case living it here where everthing is destroying in front of your eyes is veeeeery different that seeing it from the comfort of a normal country. Trust me, losing now will be devastating for the opposition that actually lives here, at least for a while (enough for us to perform badly in the Regionals in december, since people will be dissapointed). And probably enough for Chavez to destroy the few things still standing while being alive…

          • Exactly Rodrigo Exactly!! Its time to be bold, not reckless, but Bold.
            Capriles can defeat Chavez, there is no doubt in my mind about that.
            We will see soon enough if it will happen or not, but in the meanwhile, lets enjoy the great campaign that Capriles and co are doing and the mega blunders coming from the Chavismo camp. Hay un camino!!

  10. What happens if Capriles wins on Oct 7 and then Chavez dies before Jan 10? Vice President EJ would be president but for how long? 30 days? If so then what? Or until Jan 10?

        • Fom Article 233: “If the President becomes permanently unavailable to serve during the last two years of his constitutional term of office, the Executive Vice-President shall take over the Presidency of the Republic until such term is completed.”

  11. You kiddin´ me? You still talkin about emperor Chavez dying? The Master of deceipt and lies passing away next year? But wasn´t he supposed to be kaput already? Cáete de esa nube!

  12. I am not impressed at with Capriles’s campaign. Not that I am against the dire changes he will bring to a crumpling country. But his rhetoric, his speeches, his choice of words and thus his charisma are too weak, too uselessly general, and simply not enough to combat the impressive sway that Chavez holds over Venezuela.
    Furthermore, I fear that Capriles and his campaign managers are holding back their rhetoric.
    Capriles has the past 14 YEARS of history to conjure up arguments that can cripple Chavez.
    For instance, incredibly Capriles either ignored or has forgotten to mentioned that Chavez himself shouldn’t even BE a Presidential candidate. Two years ago, by referendum, the Venezuelan people voted against indefinite re-election. Yet Chavez overruled this vote through his pets in the Supreme Court.
    I find it frustratingly amazing how this is not a major campaign issue.
    Another issue: corruption: Just one example out of many (Just randomly scroll down caracasChron and your memory will be refreshed) Aban Pearl exploration rig. A public funds corruption scandal.
    Earlier this year, a supreme court justice, ex-ally of Chavez, escaped into the hands of US authorities and revealed how damaged the justice system is in Venezuela and how the drug trade is protected by the military and those high in the government.
    Has Capriles said anything about the investigation in Amuay?

    Capriles says in my opinion too much about the future, and makes many promises, and definitely defers from the violent Chavista rhetoric. I know for a fact his campaign his working hard to ensure a genuine voting process.
    But Capriles refuses to play dirty. He refuses to hit Chavez where it really hurts…
    Why? I can only speculate.
    Hopefully, from now till the 7 of Octuber I am proven wrong.

  13. I have to say, this is such an entertaining blog! especially because of the comments. I mean, where else can you read a bunch of Venezuelans discussing politics in english, with often impeccable grammar and impressive vocabulary and then introducing words like ‘patatu’ here and there just to spice it up? You guys are funny, I guess I’m funny too since I’ve made myself a part of it. In any case, I commend Mr. Nagel and Mr. Toro for having some grip on reality. Don’t get caught flat-footed if (when) Mr. Chavez gets reelected in October.

  14. And if Capriles wins there’s this dark cloud of doubt – Chaves will use all means available to stay in power.

    However the reality is if Chaves wins there should be an equal “effort” to resettle him elsewhere post haste.

    The stakes are high. Venezuela could disappear down the plug hole on the 7th. to the cost of everyone. Even an improved election performance for the opposition means zero.

    Whilst I believe in democracy there’s something about Venezuelans and voting. A bit like adding maltin to anniversario – it just doesn’t work !

  15. Juan, your post is right on. Capriles is not a shoe-in due mainly to the fear factor, which, if sufficiently overcome, will allow him to win, since the Country is a mess, nothing works, and everyone but the die-hard resentido social Chavistas (est. probably less than 30%) know this. I believe Chavez is sick, and my Chavista sources say he’ll be lucky to last more than a year, if that. In that event, with no Chavista candidate even remotely popular with the “Pueblo” (sources say Chavez unrealistically wants his daughter, believe Maria, to be the candidate), Capriles, who the Pueblo knows/likes from his campaigning amongst them, would logically be elected the next President. So, there is really no reason for the Oppo to become depressed, even with a (genuine/not fraudulent) loss on Oct. 7, especially since all signs point to an Oppo landslide win in the Governorship elections.

  16. guys i just arrived from margarita where i stayed for a week. i live in ccs and everybody and the cat except 4 pathetic chavistas playing loud music in pampatar, are revved up for change.
    from the vendors on the beaches, to the thong clad beauties, to the owners of the food kiosks, taxi drivers, raspao’ sellers etc etc that i interviewed are ready for change, and they blame chavez for a low foreign tourist count. and a low venezuelan tourist count.
    when the power went out in playa el yaque, the communal roar could be heard in juan griego “fuera chavez”!! when the power came back the communal applause was accompanied by “ethe ñero capriles, mi gallo ethe sthi eth el camino” in their best orientalese

    i know predictor, poll and statistic wise, things are very close. but the gut feeling is that it’s over. and we vote with our guts. finally after 13 looong years we’ve finally had it. other countries like ecuador suffered a singing bucaram for less than a year. but we are a hotel and not a country
    ( mi revered cabrujas dixit) so it took us 13 years of involution, caudillismo and rancho mentality to finally get it. i can feel it in my gut.

  17. I believe that your doubts reflect the excellent work on the psychological warfare front that the G2 is waging. You are full of doubts about triumph. These doubts are what keeps alive Chavez’s hopes. Otherwise he would just be buried by all those public employees and beneficiaries who are too afraid to express their votes freely.


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