Feelin’ blue about our not-so-blue map

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One of the most fulfilling images seen late at night on December 6th, when the National Electoral Council (CNE) allowed the legislative election results to be known, was the Venezuelan map painted almost entirely blue instead of red for the first time in who knows how long.

The thing is, it was downright misleading.

The MUD won 17 out of 24 states, including all the predominantly urban states. Better yet, the MUD won the states where 89.8% of Venezuelans live. To give you a sense of how rural the PSUV’s base is now, consider that the most populous state they won is friggin’ Portuguesa, whose total electorate is still almost 120 thousand voters smaller than the city of Barquisimeto.

So that’s the good news, right? Well, not so fast.  

When the map doesn’t reflect the closeness of many of those races, perception is replaced by illusion. Here’s a version of that map that shows the percentage gap in favor or against the New Majority’s parliamentary candidates.

The bluer the state, the more MUDdy it is. The redder, the more chavista. And also, here’s a chart with the numbers on every race, statewide.

Mapita Azul

Seven states are shoo-in victories for the MUD, being the only states where the gap was 20 percentage points or over in favor. The opposition’s coalition managed to win in ten additional states, but by margins that range from a relatively safe 18.7 advantage to a narrow 1.4 percentage points.

Tabla mapita azul

This is what that blue-red map we saw late December 6 leaves out: how different those 17 wins are from one another. Let’s zoom into the results to understand why even an almost 19 p.p. difference can be less substantial than it seems.

A 20 p.p. gap implies a win in the realm of 60% to 40%. That is what we can address as safe states. Anything ranging between 59%-41% and 51%-49% can be seen as more volatile or less safe, and therefore requires special attention.

In Táchira, we doubled chavismo (65.56% vs. 29.23%), being our best performer on the list, but in Miranda, the “tightest” race amongst these solid seven wins, the gap was almost 15 points shorter between both sides (58.96% to 38.45%). Notice how MUD’s percentage in Miranda is just 6.6 p.p. lower than Táchira’s, and yet the gap is that much tighter.

Along with the aforementioned seven strong performances, another three states -Lara, Carabobo and Barinas-, and the Capital District, saw at least a 55% of turnout favoring MUD, raising the tally of well-performing states to 10. That is more than a threefold increase for a faction currently holding the seat of only three out of 23 states (Alcaldía Metropolitana excluded).

But this is where things get tricky. Yes, the overwhelming majority of states don’t belong to the Gran Polo Patriotico, but the truth is that in the end, we approach state elections with an extra 12 states still being up for grabs -Delta Amacuro being practically unobtainable.

The remaining seven of MUD’s 6D victory spoils can be harder to convert into sitting governors. Those states are former bastions of chavismo, and that will always make things much harder for MUD.

We’re talking about places like Aragua, Falcón, Guárico, Sucre, Trujillo, Apure, Vargas, among others. Winning these states ought to be a priority for the New Majority in the same way chavismo is invested in retaining them, for reasons beyond electoral bickering and a foreseeable who’s-got-more-states-showdown between la Mesa and el Polo.

Aragua is a symbolic trench of chavismo just like Sucre, and the seat of military power. This makes it pivotal for chavismo.

Falcón has in the Paraguaná Peninsula the Amuay Refinery, one of the biggest in the world, a place that is also somewhat strategic. Guárico is where an alleged ally of drug movers, Rodríguez Chacín, holds office. Trujillo and Vargas’ governors were some of the best elected governors of all. And the cherry on top, Apure, is on perhaps the most permeable part of our border, where guerilla fighters seek sanctuary.

Regional relevance plays its part here as well, and governors from Trujillo, Sucre, Falcón and Vargas won’t go down without a proper fight. Losing those states alone would set MUD back to 13, four less than 6D. Four defeats, mind you, that aren’t at all farfetched.

The good news is that if the deplorable state of the country can sway voters towards MUD’s cause, it is possible to aim at winning 22 of all 23 states in the gubernatorial race; a crushing defeat to chavismo and a logistical nightmare, considering the impact that would have on their capacity of running their political operation in almost every part of the country.

The problem is that MUD doesn’t seem to be interested in discussing state elections just yet, instead focusing more on the recall referendum and legislative agenda.

The other bad news is that expectations among MUD supporters are now too high: 2 million signatures in three days AND a blowout last December later, it’s hard to talk sense into people without them feeling somewhat shaken about the idea of giving up even one of the recent wins.

Anything under 17 separate victories can be interpreted as chavismo gaining back some ground, when in fact it really isn’t the case. It’d be a shame to see momentum shift without real reason, all because of a damn blue-red map.

The numbers simply aren’t as solid as we would have hoped, and yes, the hype is also partly to blame. Had we been more honest about that blue map, we wouldn’t have sold the gap as that hard to close for chavismo, when, in fact, it always was.

Don’t get me wrong: 6D was as amazing as wins can be, but it wasn’t definitive. It wasn’t Germany’s 7 to Brazil’s 1 in the 2014 World Cup. It was chavismo being knocked to the ground but making it back up on its feet before the 10 count finished.  

This is nothing a couple of jabs can’t fix, but we need our boxer to be willing to go for the KO. We are notoriously lacking this right now.

19 COMMENTS

  1. You’re kind of a “glass is half empty” type, aren’t you?

    Of course, the rural states are on the tail-end of the general trends. And that election was a half-year ago. If the same election were held today, that map would look far bluer. As for the regional elections, if we actually get that far without some sort of regime change, the MUD has a deep enough organization that they can mobilize quickly.

    I think see the focus on the Recall Referendum as “keeping their eye on ball”.

    • Keeping the eye on THE ball doesn’t really help when you’re juggling several balls (plural). Yes, the RR is important, as is the AN and whatever states/municipalities MUD’s elected authorities hold, but this election has enough muscle in it to pretty much turn a national party and government into having to deal with the places where 90% of Venezuelans live; that, or fall back to their loyal Portuguesa.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Finally someone speaking some common sense. Sometimes the opposition seems too caught up in professing their recent victories rather than keeping the momentum. We cannot give the government the chance to catch it’s breath. They are experts at demoralizing the idle population.

  3. Yes like if you won all of those governorships the central government would let them work. As they did with the AN they would try to set paralel structures driven by thw central government and work through that. The ball is the RR, anything else is just a distraction. Otherwise you will have a Rwanda in your hands.

    • “As they did with the AN they would try to set paralel structures driven by thw central government and work through that”

      Be that as it may, it is no reason to disregard the importance of the gubernatorial elections.

      Apply the same logic (regime obstruction) to the RR and you will realize that it may not happen.
      The RR is a one shot deal that may or may not work whereas the governors have a mandate of 4 years. In the long term they may turn out to be much more important than the RR.

  4. We have given Democracy away to Populism and Anarchy. (Not just in Venezuela)
    It is unacceptable that at this point there are still red pixel there !

    If voters were required to know some basic tenets of the Constitution in order to exercise that right, the entire Venezuela map would be Blue, or better yet, White (for independents).

    These are the unintended consequences for Democracy after the expansion of voting rights during the XX century. Voting rules, need to be updated to mitigate these serious flaws, because is not just about Rights but also citizens’ Responsibilities.
    Otherwise we will always be hostage to populist incompetent leaders and populist policies.

      • Chiguire you seem to be out of touch with reality, blinded by dogma unable to think critically and independently.
        Where did I mention an “intelligent test” ?
        I suggest you land on reality and ask people who have been physically hurt or killed by armed Chavistas thugs, ask them if they think these people deserve the right to vote.
        These criminal squads are not even interested in Democratic values, compromise, peace or dialog.
        Obviously being 18yo as a qualifier is not enough.
        Unbelievable !!!!

  5. Well, don’t forget the opposition won this big with no money, no mass media, dealing with every dirty trick chavistas threw at them like min unidad, the circuit “redistribution”, the threat of violence the government likes to throw around (Pa la asamblea como sea, colectivos, you know, the usual)

    All things considered, I think 6-D was a great success but I get it, we have to stay grounded, however, at the same time I don’t agree with negative nancyism.

  6. even tough the crisis will sway a lot of voters to the blue side, in regional elections the candidate matters more than in parliamentary elections, for example thousands of opposition voters would rather vote for Ameliach than for Salas Feo. If Scarano could run he should win by a confortable margin, that’s why it’s easier for chavismo to pick on our candidates, like they have done with Scarano arbitrarily banning him from running for any office.

    • Well thank God Salas Feo isn’t running anymore. The race so far seems to be between Scarano, Naguanagua mayor Alejandro Feo La Cruz (Salas Feo’s cousin lol) and AD leader Ruben Limas (Only Scarano and Feo la Cruz stand a chance, the fight’s between those two). I’d argue that Ameliach would lose in a landslide against any of them.

  7. It’s an interesting analysis. So far, I’d argue that only Portuguesa, Delta, and Apure are the only safe chavista states. We have to remember some of those margins would be wider, considering the third party vote hurt the MUD far more than it hurt the PSUV in December. Táchira, Mérida, Sucre and Trujillo are some of the best examples. We have to remember also that some states don’t have the same dynamics. For example, Miranda is a pretty inelastic state and I’d call it a safer bet for the MUD than other states higher on the list, such as Bolívar, Anzoátegui, or Zulia. Thankfully for the MUD, the national situation is dooming even red states governors. If the elections are held this year (which, if you were the PSUV why would you want to if you are going to lose everywhere?), why might not have to look at traditional battleground states such as Miranda, Carabobo, or Zulia; but keeping an eye out if we could snatch Cojedes, Yaracuy or Guárico out of chavismo’s hands.

  8. Although a more sobering assesment of the situation is welcome , we must not miss the fact that things dont stand still , that even as the regime is trying to show itself as menacing anyone depending on a govt job or benefit and using its last funds to engage in some economic bribery to sectors of the population , the shortages and hardships are growing worse by the day and that there is a chance that by the years end a default will be declared by Pdvsa which is certain to have a big impact on the govt image as totally failed administration……!! We are not facing a static situation but one in which the ground under the feet of the regime is fast sinking into a deepening abyss.!! ….

  9. is there any possibility to at least project which circuits (states) have any chance to get the 20%?

    it should be interesting if somebody writes an article about it, i think is reachable in some circuits (states) no matter the conditions and having more states reaching that threshold would be interesting, obviously the strategy is to get more signatures from the whole country and try to get 20% as the one circuit (the country), but again the narrative will be more impressive if this number is surpassed in more states,

    in total 13 states painted in blue not including pale blue) could be within reach to get there however if it turns out that people happen to outperform expectations and no more significant bumps on the road are displayed, then to get between 13 to 18 circuits (states from blue to pale blue) could be achievable,

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