An Open Letter to Consultores 21

Estimados Consultores 21,

I read your communiqué published yesterday with some confusion, and the distinct sense that you really haven’t grasped the full magnitude of the damage last Sunday did to your firm’s reputation. I’m afraid bland assurances that you acted professionally and broad assertions of your staff’s professionalism fall far short of an adequate response to the reputational debacle you face.

Pointing to your forecasts’ success in the previous six elections was an especially misguided touch: it reads like the White Star Line responding to the sinking of the Titanic with a press release noting that their previous 75 transatlantic crossings had gone off without a hitch.

The reputational hole you’re in is far too deep for that.

To begin to claw your way back to respectability, bold action will be needed.

In fact, I can think of only one course of action with a real chance of success: you need to reveal all the details of that final survey that led you to forecast 7-O wrong.

Yes, all the details: the full questionnaire, a detailed description of your sampling strategy, a full question-by-question breakdown of responses, including comprehensive cross-tabs and, most importantly of all, an in-depth explanation of the way you assigned non-responders to the pro-government or pro-opposition column in your projection. Everything.

Nothing short of this radical action will really address the legitimate concerns of the millions of Venezuelans who rested their hopes and dreams on your analysis. We’re simply not going to take your word for an internal investigation that keeps the underlying data out of reach, because it is precisely the reliability of your word that’s now in doubt.

We understand that under normal circumstances you’d be leary to reveal certain trade secrets in your methodology, but you need to grasp that unless you do this, you’ll have no trade to protect at all.

Only once you throw the doors completely open to that final poll will researchers truly be in a position to assess what went wrong where. Only then will we understand specifically why it is that you showed such strikingly lower figures for undecided or “won’t answer” voters in your sample compared to your competition. Only then will we be able to assess whether the assumptions that led into your projection were reasonable or not.

You can console yourself with the knowledge that in taking up this radical path you’ll be making a major contribution to the transparency of an industry that has been pathologically opaque in our country for far too long. It may be unfair that Consultores 21 has to carry the weight of making that first step all on its shoulders. But them’s the breaks: you screwed up big time. Now nothing short of radical openness will help make up the credibility gap that’s opened up.

con sinceros animos de colaborar,

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