Ant-colored Polling


8539298757_7de3503d91_zThe September IVAD poll is on a level of awful that must be making the government think twice now. Consider:

  • 70% of respondents have little or no confidence in Maduro’s ability to solve the nation’s problems.
  • Better than 2-to-1 majorities think Leopoldo López is innocent.
  • The government is losing the National Assembly generic ballot question by 17 points (45%-28%).
  • Maduro is losing a hypothetical presidential vote against a generic opposition candidate 61 to 27.

The technical term for this is YIKES.

You can download the full poll document here ... for now, a glimpse:


I want to take a moment to be explicit about why any of this is relevant.

It is not because with numbers like these the opposition is likely to win any election called. It has nothing to do with that.

We’ve been hollering about the death of democracy in Venezuela on this blog for years. We grasp that there’s no predictable relationship between the proportion of votes the government gets and whether or not it stays in power: that’s pretty much the definition of the death of democracy, isn’t it?

The relevance of a poll like this – and of the reality it conveys – goes far beyond its use as a tool for forecasting an election we all know won’t be fair.

When a society-wide consensus begins to solidify around the idea that the country is totally fucked up, and that the people in charge are part of the problem rather than part of the solution, the stability of the regime can begin to falter. It need not falter quickly, it need not falter at all – this consensus is a necessary condition for regime change, but by no means a sufficient one.

Once that consensus is in place, the people the regime relies on to ensure its survival through violence have to make a calculation: is it really in their interests to position themselves as the last die-hard defenders of a regime that society sees as a calamity, or is it better for them to throw in the towel?

To pose that question is not to answer it. Smart autocrats structure incentives for their violence specialists that get them to stay-stay-stay. The Castro brothers have comfortably settled into their Depends Adult Undergarments from the comfort of the presidential palace by convincing Cuba’s violence specialists that if they stay there will be trouble, but if they go it will be double.

IVAD’s September numbers are relevant insofar as they suggest that a consensus – not a bare majority opinion, but something with the staying power of common sense – is forming around the idea that the regime Chávez bequeathed us is useless and cannot be reformed. This consensus is not just forming, it is strengthening. Moreover, the only tool available to revert that trend is disappearing right before our eyes.

Once that consensus solidifies, more and more of the guys with the guns will find themselves facing an increasingly uncomfortable choice. At some point, privately, a defection cascade could just develop as many of them realize at once that staying is worse than leaving.

When this will happen is anyone’s guess.

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  1. and now for Maduro’s response… “Que sigan soñando que me van a sacar. De aquí no me van a sacar, no me saca nadie” #QueQuieresTuQueYoHaga

  2. I’m tempted to argue this point: “a consensus […] is forming around the idea that the regime Chávez bequeathed us is useless and can’t be reformed”

    I agree that there’s a consensus building up that everything’s fucked up, but a non-negligible part of the population could attribute it to Maduro’s failure to keep El Gigante’s legacy. According to the poll 28% of people who identify with PSUV said “Maduro ha botado el capital político de HC”, which grows to 43% in the “bloque Pro-Oficial” (page 28). Of course, the error grows in these small samples, but I do think they’re telling.

    Maybe I’m splitting hairs with the way you wrote it but I’d say that the numbers show part of the consensus comes from people who *liked* the Chávez regime but think that now the country is fucked up.

    • Killing the wax doll in cuba was mandatory to create a myth from him, before the country got this major fuckage and his image crumbled in ashes in the mid of the crisis.

      After all, the diarrhea ridden mummy from the island’s got practice creating martyrs from his closest collaborators, such as the cochino guevara for example.

  3. Btw, this post is the most 80’s thing ever. I guess you could also say the goverment is currently full of karma karma karma chameleons who come and go, they come and go.

      • Maduro is chilling out. Only we, oppo people with NO GUNS fear him and not the way around.

        Polls can say whatever, as long as maduro has guns and oil revenue, he’ll be there.

        • Maybe they should substitute Maduro with the Material Girl who is our Ambasaddress in New York. OK, I’ll stop now.

        • Hunt, Maduro has no oil revenues, and only oil revenues ensure the guns keep pointing at the other guys and not him. That is basically the point of the post, which you seem to have completely missed.

          • Well, something else keeps pointing the guns against us then. Oil revenue -for sure- is no longer enough to import shenanigans such as “medicines” or “food” but still plenty to fill the pockets of those wielding guns.

            That is my point. Cuba ran out of money 23 years ago and you could only dream of a change being possible there. People dissaproval measures nothing.

          • You are abosutely right!

            J.C. Nagel talks as if oil production in Venezuela had dropped to absolute zero or something. You can cut by half what we are currently producing and there would still be enough money to keep the “violence specialists” happy.

          • i think that is an unproven point. Cubans never had the services and abundance to begin with.The population never got used to those benefits.Except for their shock period in the 90’s , their standard of living has been a relatively stable, if flat, trajectory.
            That is not the case in Venezuela. There is a definite, and more importantly ,fast, loss of standard of living in Venezuela. Frustration over economic and social setbacks are much more painful for a population that remembers the past or that recently had gains like the core chavez voters.

          • J.C. Nagel talks as if oil production in Venezuela had dropped to absolute zero or something. You can cut by half what we are currently producing and there would still be enough money to keep the “violence specialists” happy.

            You forget Chavez’ legacy of running the country on credit. The oil is mortgaged to death. The revenue is no longer going to the regime but to its lenders, to pay back the tab Chavez ran.

            The money IS running out.

    • The problem is, those 100 containers are for the “violence specialists” the author of this post talks about. I’m sure there is plenty of stuff in those containers to make them happy for a while.

    • 5% of the US population has grave chronic health problems. Half of those have terminal type problems where expensive treatments prolong life by a number of months. If the same statistics apply to Venezuela, then 75,000 Venezuelans need expensive treatments and medicines to prolong life for a number of months. Of those, since the rate of scarcity borders 50%, one might reckon half are going to die in the next few months for lack of treatment.

      That’s 37,500 Venezuelans euthanized to pay the country’s foreign and chavista bond holders.

      Those chavistas have lots of Venezuelan bonds.

  4. It’s worth pointing out that a large majority of respondents support a Constitutional Assembly. Then again, the rage is so real, so palpable, you could ask them “do you support frying Maduro in hot oil” and you would probably get 65% of respondents to agree.

    Another interesting bit: Chávez usually outpolled his movement and his party, but Maduro’s numbers map his government’s numbers pretty evenly. The whole myth about “es que sus ministros no hacen lo que él quiere” has broken.

    These are awful numbers for the government, simply awful.

    • Frying someone in hot oil? humm, sound familiar… A wacko who ended up destroying the country promised to fry the heads of some government party members…
      When all this farce started, like 16 years ago, my brother and I used to say that even “El oso Polar” (Yes! The one from the beer brand) would be better at governing the country than the frankly inept (Immortal though dead already) Hugo Chavez. I never thought there was a person who could do worse…. We were clearly wrong

      • and now that Robert Serra will not get a chance to lead the Bananarian Revolution, one would be tempted to say that THIS is the bottom and ABSOLUTELY NOBODY could do worse than Maduro as president… but I suspect someone even worse could pop out of nowhere to make us eat our words #MariaGabrielaPal2019

    • Yes, the numbers are awful but the government is holding the frying pan, not the people. It is evident that Chavismo can’t last forever but the very first post on this blog, 12 years ago, depicts more or less the same mad reality and the same economic dangers people suffer now (not so acute but the same). It is naïve to think that Maduro is going to do nothing before elections. He has at hand tens of billions and the lack of controls will allow him to do whatever he wants with them. He also has (too) well paid army officers. I don’t expect any good news for Venezuela from who people who has said in public “we are going to be in power in one way or another”.

      • No, Ramón, the situation is quite different. Back then, the government turned the numbers around thanks to a combination of a spike in the oil prices, good old populism, and the novelty of Misiones. Now, with no private industry, public finances severely strained, and a frankly incapable, snooze-inducing leader at the helm, things are much, much more bleak.

        • OK, I guess/hope you are right. That first post spoke about inflation, authoritarian government… and it looked like just the same you have now.

      • “…a frankly incapable, snooze-inducing leader”

        I continue to be convinced that he’s a chronic pot smoker.
        Just listen to him speak.

    • Yes!! This HAS to go into a constitutional amendment:

      Capítulo II

      Del Poder Ejecutivo Nacional

      Sección Primera: Del Presidente o Presidenta de la República


      Artículo 232. El Presidente o Presidenta de la República es responsable de sus actos y del cumplimiento de las obligaciones inherentes a su cargo. Si se determina que el mandatario no puede ejercer su cargo debido a extrema incompetencia, se presentara a traves de plebiscito la opcion de sumergir al Presidente o Presidenta de la República en aceite a una temperatura de 150 grados Centigrados, ideal para la coccion de papas fritas.

  5. Gross assumption: Once that consensus solidifies, more and more of the guys with the guns will find themselves facing an increasingly uncomfortable choice. At some point, privately, a defection cascade could just develop as many of them realize at once that staying is worse than leaving.

    When the guys with the guns — and the LOOT — are sociopaths, do you honestly think they are measuring the temperature of public opinion, “consensus” if you will, and becoming increasingly uncomfortable?

    Oh, Pull-eeze.

    • You’re totally right, I probably should have qualified that heavily by, say, preceding it with an entire paragraph underlining the fact that this increasing discomfort need not have specific political consequences and…oh…wait…

      • given that the whole piece was an exercise in shifting nalgas so as to stamp every inch of the Louis XV chair you’re sitting on, adding a preceding paragraph would not be a stretch.

  6. “The Castro brothers have comfortably settled into their Depends Adult Undergarments from the comfort of the presidential palace by convincing Cuba’s violence specialists that if they stay there will be trouble, but if they go it will be double.”

    You seem to forget that our “violence specialist” are being tutored by their “violence specialist”, so I’m pretty sure part of the tutoring is the convincing thing you talk about.

    And let’s not forget either that the Castros were able to do that (convincing the violence specialists) without oil. There is still plenty of money to buy (convince) quite a few people. After all, how many violence specialists do you really need?

    • “And let’s not forget either that the Castros were able to do that (convincing the violence specialists) without oil. ”

      The only period when the Castro regime was in any danger was the years between Soviet aide and Venezuelan aide. The people were desperate, and there was less crumbs to throw at the violence specialists. Fortunately, Chavez showed up.

      I think it’s easier to keep that type of regime in power when on an island, as well.

  7. The bottom has not been reached, because oil prices are still falling, inflation is still soaring, outside investors are told now that the economy is not sustainable, imports are down, no medicine, disease outbreaks, no cancer treatment, shortages, printing money, assassinations, factories closing, labor unrest, polls show declining support, and the man leading the country is a bus driver who can’t form a proper sentence in a speech that’s supposed to give people confidence that the country is in good hands!

    Is all this going to get worse? Obviously! Is there going to be enough bullets to keep the regime in power?

  8. I have been saying for years that the key is to win the National Assembly back and to do that one must have an overwhelming majority.

    I agree Quico: there is a consensus against the current government. One must see if that becomes a consensus for a single opposition candidate.

    Vzla’s opposition is such that the moment they sniff the possibility of a win, they break.

  9. I find it hard to comprehend people putting hope in an election that will not take place until the end of next year. Events are developing faster than than that. Long before we get to November of 2015, one of two things will have occurred. Either, 1) The people in charge will have flown the coop realizing that there is no more left to steal, leaving the country in chaos, or 2) They will have reduced the number of the people benefiting radically through massive purges and repression. Either way, I see discussions of elections more than a year away as moot.

  10. “Ant-colored” hahaha… loved it!

    I usually read the articles and comments… I was so hopefull with this one, then I remembered (read) about Cuba in the comments… hopes are gone now…

    Anyway, there was something that happened in Cuba that we haven’t faced yet (not so badly). They executed a lot of people, and most of the people left by boat, with nothing with them, and went through other very dramatic events…. it was much more worse, so people feared these guys and still (I presume) do now. We are not there yet, so nope, it’s not the same! (for now).


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