Nicolás Maduro, Political Genius.

Amid an outright economic catastrophe, Nicolás Maduro has managed to retain popularity ratings many other South American presidents would kill for.

Few political opinions are more hardened in the Venezuelan oppositiosphere than the idea that Nicolás Maduro is just not a very talented politician. But can we be so sure? Have a look at the last Venebarómetro poll, out with data collected by IVAD from April 1st through April 8th.

De pana, can't we put together like a vaca to hire Venebarómetro a minimally competent graphic designer?
De pana, can’t we put together like a vaca or something to hire Venebarómetro a minimally competent graphic designer?

Nicolás still has something like a 30% approval rating. Think about that. THREE IN TEN Venezuelans look around this catastrophe and think “y’know what, the president is doing a pretty decent job…”

And Among the poor (class D in Venebarómetro’s oddball NSE classification) the proportion is closer to two in five:


Gestion Maduro 2

Look, in absolute terms, these are obviously crap numbers. But adjusted-for-economic-reality they’re…phenomenal!

Bachelet’s approval rating is at 26%, Humala’s in Perú is at 15%, Dilma’s is at 9%. Chile, Peru and Brazil have obviously faced some economic difficulties in the last couple of years, but nothing compared to the absolute shitstorm of despair that’s hit us. And Maduro is substantially more popular than all of them!

Think of it like this. On Wall Street, fund managers get judged by their Alpha: not how well they did in absolute terms, but how well they did relative to market conditions. If your Mutual Fund went down 5% this week, did your fund manager do a good or a bad job? Well that depends. If the market went up 10%, your fund manager did horribly. But if the market went down 20% and your fund just went down 5%, he’s a genius.

Maybe we need to re-evaluate our judgment of Maduro’s political chops. His Political Alpha is…off the charts amazing. We tend not to see it because in the social circles we move in, we basically never ever interact with people who think this way.

We can have a long conversation about why that is. But we should probably begin by acknowledging the simple fact.